Trent Johnson was ready for call from Louisville

Trent Johnson is one happy man today, having landed a job as an assistant coach with the University of Louisville basketball program. Happily giving up the routine of a beloved grandfather in retirement to return to the game he loves.

To work with David Padgett, a person he has known and respected for a long time. Johnson’s son Terry played on the same team with Padgett at Reno High School when Johnson was head basketball coach at University of Nevada.

David Padgett needed a seasoned professional and Trent Johnson was the logical choice (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

Padgett describing Johnson as a person be will be able to lean on and his players can relate. “I think under the circumstances, I don’t think that we could find a better hire,” he said.

“I accept the responsibility to David, his staff, the players on this team to continue anyway possible to sustain the standard of excellence that Louisville basketball is all about,” said Johnson.

“My agenda is come in and help him morning, noon and night to be the best possible team, the best possible players they can be socially, academically and athletically.

“I’m ready to do anything Coach wants me to do.”

Johnson had been out the game for a year since he was fired at TCU but said he wasn’t ready to be retired. “I’m a lifer,” he said. “Basketball is a big part of my life. I was going to be in somebody’s gym sooner or later.”

He has a lifetime won-lost record of 236-88 after coaching stints at Nevada, Stanford, LSU and TCU. He also served as an assistant at Utah, Washington, Rice and Stanford.

So Johnson has been around, quite a bit, experienced more than a few ups and downs. Happy to be at UofL. “It’s Louisville,” he said, acknowledging the UofL as one of the sport’s elite programs.

Contributions to athletics by UofL Trustees are weak

Fans who may be apprehensive about future support for athletics from the University of Louisville trustees may have reason to be concerned. The levels of giving range from generous in some cases to abysmal in others.

And apparently giving back to academics is way down on their list of personal priorities.

That’s according to a report obtained from UofL by Card Game through an open records request. The report includes lifetime giving for academics and athletics through August 9th — and it does not differentiate between personal and corporate giving.

The vast majority of trustees have been tightfisted in their financial support, especially in athletics. In fact, eight of the 13 trustees have never donated anything to the athletic program. Overall giving to academics was worse although 11 trustees have made donations. Two of them had yet to give anything to UofL.

There are some notable exceptions, with John Schnatter, through his company’s name brand sponsorship of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, receiving credit for a total of $19.1 million-plus for athletics and another $5.7 million-plus for academics.

Sandra Frazier, the owner of Tandem Communications, has contributed $5.3 million-plus to academics and $10,350 to athletics. She is, of course, the niece of Owsley B. Frazier, who was a multi-million contributor to numerous programs throughout the university, including athletics.

Interesting that J. David Grissom, chairman of Glenview Trust and chairman of the board of trustees, is among the leading contributors to athletics at a sum of $20,000. His financial support for academics, meanwhile, comes in at $108,047. Not all that generous for one of the community’s most successful investors, especially one who graduated from UofL’s law school.

James Rogers, retired chief operating officer of J.J.B. Hilliard, W.L. Lyons Inc. and an advisor to other investment funds, has given $50,350 to athletics. Rogers, a UofL grad, is also a member of the University of Louisville Athletic Association.

The only other trustee who had contributed to athletics was Ronald B. Wright, a physician who had made $1,500 in donations to athletics. A graduate of UofL Medical School, he practices obstetrics and gynecology in Jeffersonville.

Eight trustees — a group consisting of Bonita Black, Brian Cromer, William Armstrong, Raymond Burse, Nitin Sahney, Enid Trucious-Haynes, Diane Medley and Vishnu Tirumala — have given no money to athletics.

— Armstrong and Cromer are graduates of the University of Kentucky, having given $640 and $75 to academics.  Armstrong is a personnel analyst in UofL’s Department of Surgery. Cromer is a partner at Stites & Harbison law firm.

— Medley, who founded MCM CPA’s in Louisville, has contributed $25,650 to academics. She’s a UofL graduate, valedictorian of her class.

— Trucious-Haynes, a faculty member in the UofL School of Law, has given $4,748 to academics. She’s a Stanford grad.

— Burse, who served briefly as President at Kentucky State University, has given $520 to academics.

— Vishnu Tirumala, who is President of UofL’s Student Government, has given $356 to academics.

Two trustees — Bonita Black, a UK grad who manages Steptoe & Johnson law firm in Louisville, and Nitin S. Sahney, a healthcare executive and Punjab (India) grad –have yet to write their first check to UofL.

A consultant to the University of Louisville Foundation recently suggested that the best way for UofL to restore the faith of donors in the University would be for the trustees to make “visible and meaningful” gifts. The advice had yet to be acted upon by numerous members of this board as of the date of the report.

Sure wins have disappeared from UofL football schedule

The game at North Carolina State was expected to provide a barometer of where the University of Louisville stands in the college football landscape. The conclusion following a 39-25 thrashing is not deniable, that the Cardinals are close to being on life support.

Unfortunately UofL has few offensive options than Lamar Jackson in the running game and it’s finally catching up with the Cardinals (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

An embarrassing offensive performance, with UofL leaning heavily on quarterback Lamar Jackson for everything but returning kickoffs and punts. Jackson running for 102 of Louisville’s 119 rushing yards and passing for 354 yards.

The offensive line, which was supposed to be improved, has yet to arrive, giving up four Jackson sacks and losses for 30 yards. Making it even more difficult for running back Malik Williams and Reggie Bonnafon, getting only 10 handoffs for 44 yards between them.

What once appeared to be a light football schedule has become a barricade.

UofL’s passing defense is almost non-existent as well, consistently giving up 300 yards through the air to four Power Five opponents. Scenes of UofL defenders flailing at receivers, allowing opponents to march down the field at ease, have become commonplace.

Jackson, who was supposed to be older and smarter, is older but his decisions aren’t getting any better. Those short bullet passes to receivers aren’t any easier to handle and the overthrows down field are becoming more frequent. He completed only 26 of 48 passing attempts against NC State.

One want to give him credit for hanging on to the ball, with no fumbles, but that one interception in the fourth quarter was a game clincher for the Wolfpack. By then UofL was totally predictable and a pick six was inevitable.

What once appeared to be a light football schedule is now a barricade. The immediate future littered with “formidable” opponents like Boston College, Wake Forest, Florida State, Virginia, Syracuse and Kentucky. None of them no longer considered sure wins.

Vince Tyra shares Tom Jurich’s passion for Louisville athletics

Vince Tyra’s top priority personally and professionally is to see UofL athletics continue to thrive.

We may never know how many people were interviewed by the school to fill the acting athletic director’s role during Tom Jurich’s suspension.

Nor should we care because Vince Tyra appears to have been an amazing hire.

Uniquely qualified in so many ways, for either the short-term or the long haul, ready to totally  immerse himself in his new post as Acting Athletic Director at the University of Louisville.

He’s a life-long UofL fan who closely follows the school’s academic and athletic programs, wanting to take them to the highest levels. He hails from a UofL family and the son of the basketball program’s first consensus All-American basketball player.

Tyra is congratulated by his wife Lori following the press conference.

And he admires and respects Tom Jurich for what he has accomplished at UofL, considering Jurich among the best in the business.

“I’m passionate about UofL athletics, I grew up a Cardinals’ fan, raised my kids as Cardinals’ fans,” he said during a Tuesday press conference  at Bigelow Hall on Belknap Campus. “Tom is a good friend. His legacy is all around us. While this has been a difficult period for us, it’s a time for our fan base to dig in even deeper. It’s a time for us to be even more supportive.

“While this is a difficult process of what we’re going through, we have a terrific set of athletic programs all across the board. One of them may have a flat tire right now, but we will prop it back up. I’m looking forward to work with David Padgett.”

Tyra’s 80-year old mother still attends every UofL basketball game and he said she cheers like her late husband Charlie Tyra is still playing for the Cardinals. His father averaged more 20 points and 20 rebounds per game during his junior and senior seasons, leading Louisville to a National Invitation Tournament championship in his junior year.

Vince has blazed his own trail, has been enormously successful in business, serving as Chief Executive Officer for five companies, most recently as operating partner in Southfield Capital and as an advisor to ISCO Industries where he served as president. He was also president of retail and active wear at Fruit of the Loom.

Interim President Greg Postel listens intently during Tyra’s remarks.

When a new board was appointed for the University of Louisville Foundation last year, Tyra was named chairman of the ULF’s finance committee, establishing new guidelines to control spending and to restore credibility with major university donors.

After leaving a ULF board meeting last week, Tyra walked down to the baseball field where he met with UofL Coach Dan McDonnell. “We stood on the field and just talked. I know he’s a leader among our coaches. We’ve got a great group of coaches, many of them have been here more than 10 years. I’m going to enjoy working with all of them.”

It was obvious during his introductory press conference that Vince Tyra is an individual who has considered himself a part of the University of Louisville family. He was convincing when he said very much appreciates what Tom Jurich has done for the school.

One got the feeling that while he would devote a great deal of energy to the job and probably be enormously successful, Vince Tyra would have no problem stepping aside if Tom Jurich were allowed to return and continue his life’s work. They share a common interest, first and foremost, in seeing UofL thrive and prosper again.

Couple of bolstering days for Louisville athletics

Two bolstering days in a row for University of Louisville fans. Treasure them, hope for a few more.

Anyone think it was a coincidence that there was a construction crane emblazoned with name PADGETT in all caps in front of the towering stadium expansion in the north end zone? Or that there was not one video replays during a 60-minute football game?

A crowd of 47,826 against Murray State is solid turnout on a good day for UofL fans.

A day after David Padgett becomes the basketball coach, the football team was taking care of business with a 55-10 thrashing of Murray State at Cardinal Stadium on Saturday. The basketball team getting a standing ovation, the football team getting almost everybody on the roster into the game.

UofL fans needing to get together, reaffirming their loyalty, enjoying some tailgating, supporting each other after a tumultuous week that some would say shook the foundations of the athletic department. The feelers were out but there no signs of any doubting Thomases, no one losing faith or disrespecting the University this day. Not here, not ever.

Louisville has been through almost as many ups as downs over several decades in football and basketball. Cardinal fans are a hardy lot, enduring the slings and arrows of the media, especially the local newspaper, but growing, expanding and winning in spite of the obstacles. They rarely waver when it comes to their UofL teams.

A crowd of 47,826 turning out for a predictable trouncing of a lower level opponent on a perfect autumn day, temperatures in the upper sixties in the shade, seventies in the sun.

Fans rewarded with another impressive performance from Lamar Jackson, their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback, rushing for 100 yards and a touchdown while passing for 249 yards and three other touchdowns. That’s in one half, mind you.

Backup quarterback Jawon Pass playing the entire second half, passing for one touchdown and scoring another himself. Hope for the future.

Trevon Young and Stacy Thomas on defense turning in five and four tackles, respectively, that side of the UofL line holding Murray State to only 61 yards passing and 19 yards rushing. That’s with plenty of young second and third stringers playing during the second half, gaining experience, building depth for the tough haul ahead.

Needed a couple of days like that, thanks.