Petrino not backing off prediction about beating Alabama

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.

New UofL classroom facility adds to campus beautification

Charlie Springer photos

The cranes are finally gone, the dust has settled and thousands of University of Louisville students are occupying the brand new Belknap classroom facility on a daily basis.  The $83 million, 170,000-square-foot building welcomed students during the first week of the 2018-19 academic calendar on Monday.

 Instead of rows of desks in classrooms, students gather around tables for active learning experiences with instructors and each other.  The facility also includes many informal meeting spaces for group work and projects outside of class time, as well as a student center and labs for scientific research.

One of few academic facilities in nation built specifically for active learning experiences, with all the advantage of recent technology and wireless connectivity. An structure enhancing the outlook for student success while adding to the recent beautification of the campus.

Adjacent to the new Belknap classroom is the John Shumaker Research Building, completed in 2005.

Half a century of covering Louisville sports for Ed Peak

Our man Ed Peak (left), a veteran sportswriter, teams up with Gary Graves of the Associated Press to cover the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May, as well as many University of Louisville games.

Editor’s Note: More on Ed Peak from the man who knows him best, Ed Peak. I first met Ed while we were young sportswriters at the Courier-Journal; he was part of the Friday night high school sports crew, I was on the copy desk. He reminisces about some of the high and low points along the way of a 50-year-plus career of covering local sports.

By Ed Peak

I have been involved in reporting sports since my freshman year of high school. That’s 50 years. I take pride in reporting the facts. I try not to slant the news right or left.

Taking solace that in all my years I have never once jumped out of my seat in a press box to show my emotions for a team I was covering with a loud yahoo. I have never withheld information about a team or individual. Good or bad. I learned old school.

I was covering a Kentucky Colonels basketball game for my college newspaper, The Quadrangle, of Jefferson Community College. The late Earl Cox, then Sports Editor of The Courier-Journal sat next to me. He said to me.”Ed, how would you like to work at the C-J taking high school games on weekends over the telephone. We pay well.”

I jumped at the chance. The C-J was one of the top newspapers in the country at the time. I got to work with one of the greatest Prep Sportswriters in Bob White. I got to work with Dave Kindred, Dick Fenlon, Billy Reed. Mike Sullivan, Tev Lauderman, Jim Bolus, Russ Brown, Ron Coons, Johnny Carrico, Rick Bozich and Eric Crawford just to name a few. I learned from some of the best.

About the same time, 1972, Wayne Perkey, asked if I would do a high school “Game of the Week” for his morning radio show on WHAS 840. I was also asked to help with the Saturday, “Telescore84” scoreboard show that preceded University of Kentucky football games. It was all sports scores and information. I was very fortunate to have these gigs. I learned a lot and appreciate all the help along the way. I learned to be “Fair and Balanced”.

Continue reading “Half a century of covering Louisville sports for Ed Peak”

At least one coach believes Louisville can beat Alabama

Photo by Cindy Rice Shelton

By Ed Peak

Anyone who would bet against Alabama in the opening game versus Louisville, Saturday, Sept. 1 in Orlando’s Camping World Kickoff would be … crazy.

The Crimson Tide comes into the game having won five of the last nine National Championships and three of the last the six.  Alabama has won 26 Southeastern Conference titles — double the number of second place Georgia and Tennessee with 13 each. The school has produced 125 First Team All Americans including at least two every year since 2008. In 2011 the Crimson Tide had seven.

I'm sure the talking mouths on the local sports talk radio shows will have a field day with those comments. What is he supposed to say 'We're going to lose 200-0.'?

The boys from Tuscaloosa are preseason ranked No. 1 by Street & Smith’s, Athlon preseason publications, USA Today Coaches Poll and The Associated Pres. Sports Illustrated and Lindy’s Sports have the Tide ranked No. 2.
Alabama opened as a 25.5-point favorite and has remained there for months.

The Cardinals come into the game with a sophomore quarterback, Jawon “Puma” Pass, who has never started a game and was the backup to Lamar Jackson in each of the last two seasons. Louisville’s strength lies in its offense with a bevy of wide receivers with speed. Sophomore Dez Fitzpatrick, junior Seth Dawkins and seniors Jaylen Smith and tight end Mickey Crum can all catch the ball. Freshman Tutu Atwell is fast and has impressed during fall camp.

The offensive line has size and speed in sophomores Mekhi Becton (6-foot-7, 335), center Cole Bentley and seniors Kenny Thomas, Lukayus McNeil (6-6, 324) and Linwood Foy (6-4, 299). The running backs should be solid in sophomore Trey Smith, Dae Williams and Colin Wilson. In all the Cardinals return seven starters on offense.

Continue reading “At least one coach believes Louisville can beat Alabama”

Remember When: Alabama-Louisville — the first game on the big screen TV

Squaring off against Alabama in the opening game of the 2018 college football season brings back rich memories of UofL’s last game against the Crimson Tide in 1991. A New Year’s Day nationally-televised appearance in the Fiesta Bowl.

Howard Schnellenberger had four weeks to prepare for Alabama.

Easily the biggest game in UofL football history at the time, Alabama was a prohibitive favorite,expected to easily roll over Louisville. The fact that UofL Coach Howard Schnellenberger had almost a month to prepare for Alabama was lost on the sports media, along with Louisville’s 9-1-1 record that season.

Three days before the game, I had forked over big bucks for a huge console TV, with a 48-inch screen, encased in a walnut cabinet. State of the art, it would be main attraction in the basement. I couldn’t wait for it to be delivered the night before the big game.

I told my wife the TV was going down to the basement if I had to start cutting holes in ceilings and walls.

The call came from Smith’s Furniture that they were on the way. I figured it would take a while for them to get there so I dashed out to a video store to rent a movie. I returned home, video cassette in hand, eager to get acquainted.

But to my shock, sitting smack dab in the center of the family room sat the big new TV.  Where the guys from Smith’s Furniture had left it, having convinced my wife it was too big to go downstairs to the basement. Wouldn’t be able to get around the corner into the basement. they told her. Lots of company coming by the next day for the Fiesta Bowl party.

Panic time. Calls to Smith’s Furniture were to no avail, they were already closed for the holiday. I told Barbara the TV was going to get to the basement if I had to start cutting holes in ceilings and walls.

Desperate, I called Joe, our next door neighbor, and he called another neighbor. Three anxious and perspiring individuals, refusing to accept failure, were slowly and cautiously able to get it down the steps and around the corner. Finally, there it was –a monument to persistence and fanaticism.

The next day came a football game-watching party that will never be equalled. Browning Nagle completing a 70-yard pass for a touchdown to Latrell Ware, Ralph Dawkins scoring on a five-yard run, a 37-yard pass to Anthony Cummings for another TD, and a UofL recovery of a fumble in the Alabama end zone. UofL was up 25-0 after the first quarter. The Cardinals would win the game, 34-7, shocking the world of college football.

The TV was in the basement for about eight years before getting handed  down to Steve. I wasn’t there when he arrived with friends so I’ll never know how he got it out of the house. “Leverage, dad,” he said. “Simple leverage.”