If anyone needed evidence that new defensive management was necessary, it came early in the first quarter in game twelve. Rutgers’ Ray Rice scampering 10 yards untouched to the end zone, the U of L defense running the other way. Just another glaring error in a season of defensive lapses.
Also during the season, a once proud offensive unit was reduced to relying solely on the arm of Brian Brohm to keep games close or from getting out of hand. One is forced to credit senior leadership for the inexplicable turnaround in the come-from-behind win over Rutgers in the final game.
They needed to go — Mike Cassity and Charlie Stubbs, the coaches with the immediate responsibility for the defensive and offensive units. They were obviously ill-equipped for the challenges they encountered. Other dismissals are sure to follow as their successors assume control.
Steve Kragthorpe gets more time to shape the program in his image. He promotes Jeff Brohm to offensive coordinator, tapping into a mind shaped by offensive geniuses like Howard Schnellenberger and Bobby Petrino. Kragthorpe also finally has the opportunity and time to secure a decent defensive coordinator.
Kragthorpe pointed out during the news conference that out of the past four recruiting classes, there are 43 players no longer associated with program. Where did all these players go? We will probably never know because the local sports media didn’t follow up on this revelation, probably missing their Sunday afternoon naps.
Nor are we likely to learn much more about the extent of the “off the field” issues. Tom Jurich and Steve Kragthorpe will never tell us because they aren’t the sort to point fingers. And there are no “insiders” close to the program willing to shed any light on the issues. Fans will just have to take the coach’s word for it in these litigious times.
That’s a challenge that’s difficult for many to comprehend, especially among those who elevated the players to unprecedented levels after the Orange Bowl victory. Some are simply unable to differentiate between a program that produces solid citizens and good football players and a program that wins without doing both.
Kragthorpe, meanwhile, will continue to pay the price for the losses on the football field.