Fan of the Week

Connie Giacomini, the mother of 280-pound U of L offensive tackle Breno Giacomini, is this week’s Fan of the Week. She and a large and rowdy group of family members and friends made the short trip from Malden, Massachusetts to Hartford for the game. They created quite a bit of noise and the ESPN cameras revisited them numerous times. Breno appeared to have a couple of football playing brothers who are as big, if not bigger, than he is.

Deja Vu

Atmosphere is everything at a college football game. Even if you were blindfolded, you would know you were at a home University of Louisville game. Or so I thought until Friday’s game at Rentschler Field in Hartford. It was deja vu all over again.

To my surprise, UConn welcomes the Huskies to field with “O Fortuna,” the same anthem that we hear in Louisville. They also play the same kickoff music, and an identical version of the third down music. To top it off, the public address announcer had a similar version of Sean Moth’s “Card’s First Down” rallying cry. They even played ” We Ready.” I halfway expected the Huskies to start playing “R U Ready?” or “Red Reign” next.

Were the Huskies being copy cats, using the same music because it was so great at Papa John’s? I don’t think so. It wouldn’t surprise me if the same tunes are repeated at dozens of other college stadiums. I’ve heard bits and pieces while attending other college games and even at NFL games.

Many people couldn’t care less about the extracurricular stuff. But it bugs me. I was under the impression that these pieces were carefully selected to get U of L players fired up. If a team keeps hearing the same music and the same rallying cries for different teams at home and away, what’s so special about it?

U of L fans consider their program special and unique. The train whistle is great but the fans deserve better than a carbon copy approach to enhancing the atmosphere at local games.

Fairgrounds Football

The old Fairgrounds Stadium will be demolished in the near future if the Kentucky General Assembly gives its blessing for a new amphitheater on the site. Waiting on the legislators to approve anything in Louisville is always a cliffhanger, even if money has already been raised for the effort.

Lots of memories from that stadium. Our seats were positioned behind a post that literally obstructed our view of anything between the 40-yard lines. The roof reminded you that it was really just a converted baseball stadium, but it was a godsend on hot days or if it happened to be raining or snowing. The covered end of the stadium also made it hard on opposing quarterbacks, especially when they had their backs to the original Crunch Zone.

Remember, too, predicting to my eventual wife on our first date that U of L would do a fake punt in that game again Memphis in 1972. They faked and scored from about 59 yards out, a John Madeya pass play. She looked at me in awe. She was also impressed that we could get good seats. In those days, seats were plentiful and anybody could sit wherever they wanted. More points for me.

There were some memorable games there, too, including a 41-10 shellacking of the Texas Longhorns in 1993. Sitting behind some delirious fans that day were a mom and dad with two kids, all of them wearing Texas shirts. Kinda felt sorry for them. The last minute 30-28 win over Virginia in 1988 ranked right up there with the best, never heard it so loud at Fairgrounds Stadium. The win over West Virginia, 9-7, was a thrill as well. A 26-14 victory over Illinois would be our only win in Cooper’s last year in 1997, a 1-10 season, so we savored that one.

That’s where our program came from. Our roots, we should not forget them. People who endured those years should be considered charter fans. Schnellenberger came along and inspired them to raise their expectations. They made possible what we all enjoy today, one great football stadium.

One would hope the Fairgrounds Stadium officials will make it possible for fans to acquire the old chair seats from the place. From those seats, we could never have imagined just how far the program could have advanced in a few short years in a new venue. We enjoyed the view, though, even if was partially obstructed.

My wife says if we got one of the chairs, it would go behind the post in the basement.

Defense Take Note

Briefly revisiting the U of L win over Cincinnati. The Cardinals’ defensive unit received rare praise from an unexpected source yesterday. Ben Mauk, the UC quarterback, told the Cincinnati Post:

“Louisville is a great defense. They fly around and have good team speed. It’s not like we’re playing against air out there … “

One did get the impression that the defense matured somewhat after what could have been a disastrous first quarter. It was also obvious, however, that they still had a way to go when UC receiver dropped a wide open pass in the fourth quarter. Equally apparent is that these guys are working on getting better, serving notice in posing a serious challenge to a good quarterback on the final series of downs.

What to make of UConn

Difficult to get a handle on UConn. The Huskies are 5-1, having beaten Duke, Maine, Pittsburgh, Temple and Akron while losing by one point to Virginia. Out of all those teams, only Virginia is respectable. Winning, however, instills confidence in teams, and UConn will be powered by high levels of adrenaline.

U of L will be coming off a good win over a tough opponent. Some improvement on defense should carry over into an improved focus during this week’s preparations. The stop on that last series of Cincinnati downs was a beginning. Build on it.

We believe Brian Brohm latched on to the leadership role in a new way in the win over Cincinnati. Now that the Heisman Trophy talk has died down, Brian should be able to do what he does best, keep those receivers moving the chains. Brock Bolen and Anthony Allen can help by chewing up yardage as well.

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These comments by David Harding in the University of Cincinnati’s independent student newspaper are too good not to share:

Louisville fans don’t respect the Bearcats. But why should they? The UC Bearcats just can’t seem to beat their rival down Interstate 71 in anything. No matter if the sport is football, basketball, baseball, or volleyball, UC just can’t find wins against the Cardinals.

The basketball team has lost four out of their last five meetings with Rick Pitino’s Cardinals. Brian Cleary’s baseball team is just 3-6 in their last nine meetings against the team down south.

Even the women have had their trouble. The women’s basketball team has lost five out of their last six against Louisville.

The last time the volleyball team beat the Cardinals was 2003. Louisville has dominated the women’s soccer team, boasting a 3-0 record over the Bearcats in their last three meetings.