South Florida Sorries

— If you muff the opening kickoff on the road, the odds are good that it’s going to be a long, long night.
— A laugher is a game where the TV cameras stay focused on the South Florida quarterback for much of the fourth quarter. Were the Bulls having fun, or were they just laughing? At who or what? Don’t want to know.
— The producers could have used a still photo of Kragthorpe; his body profile and facial expression rarely changed.
— That flash of excellence you saw late at running back late was Bilal Powell.
— Was there ever a longer, more frustrating football game?

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Met a couple of West Virginia fans at the hotel after the game. They couldn’t recall WVU fans calling for Rich Rodriguez’ job, even after he won only three games out of 11 in his first year at the helm. What he had going for him was that he was a West Virginia lad. Go figure.

Off And Running

The basketball Cards did what was expected in dispatching Hartford 104-69 in the University of Louisville’s season opener. Some impressions:

— Terrence Williams looks like Darrell Griffith-plus, with even more athleticism than we remembered. A reverse double-clutch dunk, 14 points, 13 assists and 12 rebounds. He will be legendary simply for his dunks but his other contributions are so much more valuable.

— Edgar Sosa will start again, and soon. For this team to come close to its potential, Edgar must realize his talents extend far beyond shooting; that’s when basketball will become fun again.

— Will need more than 16 minutes from Derrick Caracter as the schedule toughens. Still seems foul-prone. Officials expect him to foul, too, so they tend to anticipate.

— Can’t wait to see David Padgett against a good post man, brings out the best in him.

Still not quite into basketball, football grieving continues.

What To Expect vs. South Florida

Louisville has never beaten South Florida in Tampa. There’s no logical reason to expect the outcome to be any different this time around. But fans can hope

— That Harry Douglas is able to be the Harry Douglas of old, at least one more time before he graduates.

— That U of L opens with a two back offense, with Brian Roche living up to the hype that accompanied his signing, creating holes as big as trucks for the running backs.

— That junior college transfer Woodny Turenne has finally adapted to major college football and picks off at least three interceptions.

— That George Stripling is not running up the middle on third downs; he’s more effective on screen passes.

— That neither Brock Bolen nor Anthony Allen pull disappearing acts.

— That a Rutgers win can cap a winning season.

No Contest: U of L The Fan Favorite

Every so often, much too often, you hear the notion floated that the ratio of University of Louisville fans to University of Kentucky followers in the Louisville area is evenly divided, about 50-50 between the two schools. Rick Pitino has even heard said same.

Not so. Not even close, according to the results of a Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll released in February 2005. The poll should have settled the issue once and for all. But UK fans and some media types, who either don’t read the front page, are research-challenged , or count on the forgetfulness of the general public, persist in advancing .

Predictably. That’s why this writer kept a copy of the results, to ensure that folks are aware of the facts. The poll indicated:

— Fans of U of L basketball outnumbered UK fans by 53.7% to 33.3% in the Louisville area.

— U of L football fans weighed in at 61.3%, as compared to 20.8% for UK pigskin followers.

The Courier-Journal poll did not take into consideration the bandwagon jumping factor, which includes people whose loyalty often wavers, depending on how well a team is faring during a particular season. Some will jump from a losing team to a winning team in a heartbeat. But even with a plus or minus error factor of 5%, Louisville wins the local favorite debate hands down.

Keep this information handy. The issue will resurface.

No Looking Ahead To Next Year

One of the things fans look forward as the basketball opens is a first look at the incoming freshmen. They are, after all, the future of the program. So much for that tradition: Attrition has struck the class big time.

The NCAA Clearinghouse didn’t live up to its name once again, failing to clear George Goode, a 6-foot-8, 205-pounder lacking a couple of high school credits. The doctors are at least a year away from allowing 7-foot-2 Clarence Holloway anywhere near a basketball court. That leaves only Preston Knowles, a guard from Winchester that Pitino says plays good defense, and Lee Steiden, a walk on guard from St. X.

Fast forward to next season: David Padgett, Juan Palacios and Terrance Farley will have graduated. At least three starters could jump to the NBA. Pitino will be practically starting all over again, with a team that will essentially include eight or nine people new to the college scene. Some of the incoming frosh will have extraordinary talent but also much to learn.

But that’s next year. The cup is full of talented veterans right now, and there’s every reason for U of L fans to live for the moment.

* * *

The U of L marketing staff has outdone itself this year with the basketball schedule posters. They are larger than usual, 18 x 24 inches, and on a heavier paper stock. The design is classic, a real keeper. You can pick them up at Thornton’s locations while they last. A nod, too, to V. G. Reed & Sons Printing Company for the quality.