Jurich should entertain job offer from Texas

Things aren’t going well for the mighty University of Texas and boosters may be on the verge of cleaning house. Some reports indicate that the jobs of the athletic director and the football, basketball and baseball coaches are all on the line.

When the Longhorns aren’t doing well in football (1-2 after three games this season and 2-4 in the last six games), the Texas power brokers aren’t happy. They’re upset and angry that they’re not dominating every team in sight, hungry for blood.Tom-Jurich-Happy

Forgive us if we gloat. But Texas, remember, is the school with the athletic director, DeLoss Dodds, who dangled the possibility of an invitation to the Big 12 Conference in the face of the University of Louisville for months. Encouraged, teased and all but invited UofL but never delivered in the end.  Choosing West Virginia University over UofL.

Next to hiring Tom Jurich as its athletic director, the snub may have turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to Louisville, which is becoming  a full-fledged member of the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014. If the Big Ten hadn’t plucked Maryland from the ACC, Louisville athletics would be mired in Never Never Land.

Imagine a school just having won an NCAA championship in basketball, a BCS bowl in football, and a College World Series appearance in baseball, as well as a national runner-up in women’s basketball still on the outside looking in. Texas wasn’t going to allow the Big XII to expand unless it could get Notre Dame, then maybe, just maybe, Louisville.

So it’s comical that Dodds is denying reports that he has been asked to step aside after three decades and assume a consulting role. The vast empire he built could be turning its back on him, kicking him upstairs to an advisory position. What’s really ironic, however, is that the leading candidates to succeed are said to be Big XII Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, Florida AD Jeremy Foley and UofL’s Tom Jurich.

Jurich has said he gets letters all the time about possible jobs, adding that he doesn’t look at them because he’s so happy at Louisville.

Just for fun, however, TJ might want to entertain an offer from Texas. Leak word to the media about the offer,  whisper that he is interested in the job to some insiders in Louisville and Texas d. Leave them hanging, just long enough to everyone conclude that he’s gone. Schedule a press conference to make the big announcement.

Shocking the disbelieving Texans, he announces that he’s staying at the University of Louisville, reaffirming that he already has the best AD job in America, that he still has things he wants to accomplish here.  He wouldn’t be proving anything at Texas anyway, just building on another person’s legacy while constantly dealing with some massive and insatiable egos.

Louisville over Texas. That would be delivering a large dose of humble pie for the Lone Star State, and still another incredible boost for the program that Jurich built.

ESPN report: UConn likely replacement for Maryland

Ready for conference realignment drama? Brett McMurphy, the unofficial mouthpiece of Big Football, is reporting that the Big Ten Conference is in advance talks with Maryland and Rutgers about switching conferences.

The power brokers, already reaping multi-million increases in additional dollars from new television contracts and the new college football playoffs want still more money and power. You can bet that ESPN is involved somehow, with the Big East in the midst of negotiating TV rights with other networks.

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Further expansion is not going to increase the attractiveness of the product. But it will get the Big Ten into the heavily populated markets of the New York and Baltimore-Washington areas, putting them on more TV sets. Makes sense but when’s the last time you watched a Big Ten football game?

If Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten, what does that mean for the University of Louisville? ACC Commissioner John Swofford indicated during a media day conference that if the conference lost a member, the conference would probably have to make a move.

It may be significant that the first ESPN report of the rumor suggests Connecticut (UConn) as the most likely replacement. The writer probably checked with the guy in the corner office on the top floor before speculating on the next move.

Until the Big 12 gets over its smugness/inertia and gets realignment fever again, UofL will probably still be on the outside looking in. The best move the Big 12 could make would be to grab both Louisville and Cincinnati, which have decent TV markets and are heavily invested in their football programs.

No. 1 Louisville fan Mitch McConnell introduces Final Four Resolution

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Mitch McConnell, perhaps the most powerful University of Louisville basketball fan, introduced a resolution in the United States Senate Wednesday, extolling the NCAA basketball matchup with U of L and Kentucky in the Final Four.

It had to be painful for the minority leader to feign neutrality. Everybody knows he’s a Louisville fan. He was president of student government at UofL. But he has another degree from the UK law school.

McConnell is a big Louisville football fan, too, never missing a home game, often attending games on the road. He also has gotten involved in conference realignment and expansion, advocating UofL’s inclusion in the Big 12 Conference.

The Senator turned down an opportunity to have the UK School of Agriculture named after him a few years ago. But one of the most prestigious facets of UofL, the McConnell Center for Leadership Studies, bears his name, attracting influential world leaders on a regular basis.

Here’s his public statement:

“Never have these two teams faced each other in the Final Four with the stakes so high. If the excitement and frenzy and turbulence that’s been stirred up in Kentucky this week could be harnessed we could solve our energy crisis. Basketball fans from Kentucky have been waiting their whole lives for this game.

“So my friends in North Carolina can hear it, U of L and UK have the best rivalry in all of college basketball and the commonwealth of Kentucky is the best college basketball state in the nation.”

But when they turned off the microphone, we know that Senator McConnell was probably pleading:

“Go Cards.”

Big 12 has incentive$ to grow again

If there’s one thing that can distract many University of Louisville supporters from basketball and March Madness, it’s the continuing suspense of the conference expansion issue and the next hand to be played.

The real question, the one that keeps many of us on the edge of our seats, is whether Louisville will be extended an invitation to join the Big XII Conference. Becoming a member of the club, getting initiated into one of the elite football conferences, would be the next giant advancement for the university.

Analysts have indicated that before U of L received an invitation, several things had to happen. They included the completion of an exit agreement between the Big East and West Virginia, the expansion of the Big East to include more football programs, and the agreement between the Big XII and the TV networks. The first two have occurred, and a TV deal appears to be near.

Brett McMurphy and Dennis Dodds of CBSSports.com reported Tuesday:

The Big 12’s current deal with ESPN/ABC doesn’t expire until 2016, but the conference and networks have been negotiating what is being termed an extension. The 13-year deal worth is expected to be worth at least $200 million annually through 2025. The deal is expected to “sync up” with a $1.2 billion, 13-year deal signed with Fox in April.

The new deal is for 18-20 top tier games per year according to industry sources. This new deal is based on a 10-team league and sources said it could be worth even more per school if the Big 12 expands to 11 or 12 teams.

If the deal goes through, each school would receive approximately $21 million a school annually. But, but yes, even more if the Big 12 expands to 11 or 12 teams. Guess who is said to be first in line if that occurs, followed closely by Brigham Young University.

Anything could happen, nothing could happen. Notre Dame keeps being mentioned as a wild card, along with Clemson and Florida State. They deny interest but that’s the public face. Who knows what is going on behind the scenes.

Just imagine what an athletic director like Tom Jurich could do with those kinds of resources, on top of what has been accomplished in the past decade with an absolute transformation of the athletic facilities. Hard to envision but he’s an individual with great vision.

The next few weeks and months are going to be tense for the university, no matter how Louisville fares in NCAA basketball.  So close, so many obstacles to clear, but that goal seems tantalizingly close. Let it happen. Please.

Certainty about Louisville’s conference future brings relief

Well, at least the uncertainty is over.

Having said to have initially rejected an offer from the Big 12 and then been rejected when the conference came to a final conclusion, the University of Louisville now must play a leading role in rebuilding the Big East.

Something to be said for knowing exactly where one stands. More than sense of relief, feels more like closure. No more constantly checking Twitter, the message boards, trying to read between the lines.

The factual information blurred by all the speculation, the erroneous reports, the trial balloons, the planted rumors and falsehoods, the antagonism with the West Virginia crazies, the farcical Missouri maneuvering and the Texas and Oklahoma tugs of war. What a nightmare it was.

All things of the past. We hope so anyway. A sabbatical would be great. Revisit the issue next year, or the year after. If we must.

U of L fans can focus on other more important issues. Yeah, we would have loved being in the Big 12 playing Texas and Oklahoma and other powers on an annual basis. But we know now that’s not going to happen anytime soon.

The inability of UofL to make it into a football conference was undoubtedly affected by the slow growth in local support for college football. As a university and a community, Louisville has only recently recognized the value of having a strong football program.

Now we know for certain where football stands in the overall picture. University of Louisville basketball is a wonderful diversion during the winter months and it has brought some nice recognition for the university. But by all but ignoring football for so many decades, we were shortchanging the athletic program and the university.

UofL had too much ground to make up even after Howard Schnellenberger, Malcolm Chancey and Bill Olson finally got a stadium.  Still Tom Jurich was able to get UofL in the Big East and in the BCS picture. Remarkably, he came close to getting Louisville in the Big 12 Conference — a tremendous accomplishment considering where the school was a few years ago.

Football is king in college sports. That much is certain.