Cindy Rice Shelton photo
The question was predictable so Coach Bobby Petrino was not insulted when a sportswriter asked on cue if Petrino still believed the University of Louisville football team could compete with Alabama.
“How do you know if you’ve succeeded (in convincing players they can beat Alabama)? Do you not know until game day?”
Most memorable was that 63-20 romp over 10th-ranked Florida State during the 2016 season. No one, not even Petrino, saw that one coming.
Questions for a man who has made motivating college football players his livelihood, entering his 31st year of collegiate coach, his 14th year as a head coach and his 10th year in Louisville (including a year as offensive coordinator). He owns a career record of 117-48 (.709) in 13 seasons.
No correct answer really but Petrino is courteous and respectful, knowing his team will be paying attention to the response, noting that the key is going into the game with confidence.
“One of the things that helps your confidence is that you really understand what you’re doing,” he said. “You study and know the game plan, and then you’re ready to go execute it.
“It’s not like it’s a new thing. It’s the same thing you try to do for every game. Part of your job as a coach is to get your players to believe you can go out there and win the game, to get your players to believe during the game that you’re going to win the game. That’s a big part of coaching.”
But how do you know you’re ready, comes the followup question from the same reporter.
A big grin from Petrino, the kind of confirmation that comes from a coach who recognizes the opportunity that comes from playing the No. 1 team in the country.
“Well, you go and play the game,” he said. “Here we go, time to do it!”
Easy to say, harder to do. Petrino is 5-14 against ranked teams at Louisville, the most recent losses coming to third-ranked Clemson and 24th-ranked North Carolina State last season.
The most impressive performance was that 63-20 romp over 10th-ranked Florida State during the 2016 season. No one, not even Petrino, saw that one coming.