U of L Fans May Need Shades at West Virginia

Fans across West Virginia are pumped up for the U of L-West Virginia football game next Thursday. They don’t seem to be too concerned about whether they will win, that seems to be a given for them. They do respect Louisville, however. and a capacity crowd of 60,000-plus is expected.

Even though it’s a night game, visiting U of L fans may still need sunglasses. WVU football coach Rich Rodriguez is encouraging Mountaineers fans to wear gold. “I’d like everybody to wear something gold — a shirt, jersey, jacket, hat, scarf, shoes,” he said. “It would look impressive, particularly at night.”

Members of the Mountaineer Maniacs, a group consisting of more than 4,500 students, are being encouraged to get to their seats 90 minutes before kickoff. They earn loyalty points for football based on home attendance. The more home games they attend, the better their chances of getting tickets for the big games.

Mountaineer fans without tickets at the stadium can still see the ESPN broadcast on the big screen in theaters at theaters in Morgantown, Charleston and Beckley. The Morgantown theater also is giving away 120 free passes and is offering free food.

The West Virginia defense, which takes a back seat to Pat White and Steve Slaton, is third nationally in total defense (262.13 yards per game), fourth in scoring defense (14.9 per game), third in turnover margin (1.38), tied for 11th in turnovers gained (22) and tied for 12th in fumbles recovered.

Mountaineer Coach Rich Rodriguez on Brian Brohm: “He’s one of the best not only in the Big East but in the history of NCAA football,” he said. “I think it’s a great story for college football that he decided to come back (for a senior year). Obviously, he’s carried that team. He has stayed healthy this year. He’s competitive and a very good athlete.”

Keeping Up With Francisco Garcia

Francisco Garcia remains one of the all-time U of L fan favorites, even though he elected to make himself eligible for National Basketball Association draft following the 2004-05 basketball season when he led the Cards to the NCAA Final Four.

Garcia is averaging 17 points per game after three outings with the Sacramento Kings this season. The head coach of the Kings is Reggie Theus, a former U of L assistant coach. Fans can keep track of Francisco’s progress during the season by clicking on his photo.

Pitino Making Good On Promise

One thing is clear after two exhibition games: This year’s basketball Cards are light years ahead of any Rick Pitino team since he arrived in Louisville in 2001. He appears to finally have all the pieces together for what could be a special season.

Few coaches could have survived the challenges of his first few seasons. The program was plagued by a lack of talented veterans, few recruits in the pipeline, and players with eligibility and discipline issues. Then came the disappointments of talented recruits skipping college for the pros, accompanied by the crushing blow of injuries to key players. The coach was even dealing with personal health issues at one point.

It’s hard to believe that some skeptics were questioning whether Pitino had lost his touch and desire to win as recently as last season, despite having guided the Cards to the Final Four during the 2004-05. That, of course, was before they won 12 of the last 15 regular season games last year.

Pitino is making good on his promise “to return the Cards to national prominence.” It’s going to be fun to watch.

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Here’s a must see video to tide U of L fans over until the regular basketball season officially begins against Hartford on Nov. 17:

Haunting Image

It’s Halloween, easily the most dizzily dissonant holiday of the year. Ancient tradition holds that Halloween is the time of year when ghosts of the past make contact with the physical world.

So we were not surprised to see the face of Bobby Petrino haunting various sections of Papa John’s last Saturday. Apparently he was a bit disturbed over some of the shots aimed his way since he vanished in January.

Actually that’s Erin Kenney behind the mask. I would have preferred her face to Petrino’s. Maybe next time …

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Saw where Sonny Bass, whose name is on U of L’s Bass-Rudd Tennis Center, recently donated $1 million to the university to help single moms complete their college education. A generous gift. Now if somebody will step forward and do the same for single dads, we will really have advanced the cause of gender equity locally.

Going our way

Steve Kragthorpe apparently pulled off quite a coup in notching a verbal commitment from Darius Ashley, a speedy 5-9 running back from St. Xavier in Cincinnati who has put up some incredible numbers.

Over three seasons, he has racked up 56 touchdowns and 3,896 yards rushing while helping lead St. X to one Ohio Division One championship and earning all-state honors each year. He is the real thing; see his video highlights, thanks to Rivals and Card Chronicle.

Assuming he plays next year, U of L would have quite a stable of running backs. He would join highly touted Victor Anderson and Dale Martin, along with Serio Spencer and George Stripling. I can hear the skeptics now, wondering if current offensive coordinator Charlie Stubbs will be able to manage all that talent.