Seminal moment for Louisville football against Seminoles

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Showdown time for the University of Louisville football program against Florida State. Decades in the making, a chance to knock off the No. 2 team in America at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

The next game is always the most important, regardless of the foe. One must admit, however, that Florida State looms much larger than most.

Take it from someone who has been following UofL athletics for well past six decades: Sitting behind the post at Fairgrounds Stadium for years, dreaming of opportunities like this, actually seeing it come to fruition. One of those seminal moments that keeps long-time fans awake at night and gets them out of bed early on game day. A nationally televised game, a record crowd, a team with nothing to lose and everything to gain, lining up against a perennial power with a 23-game winning streak.

A pivotal event straight ahead, staring UofL partisans in the face, beckoning, challenging and teasing them, the UofL football program arriving at a crucial fork in the road. The coaches and players confronted with one their greatest challenges ever, motivating them, daring them to scale the heights. But knowing that adrenalin is no substitute for consistency and execution against a program with a solid football reputation and a long winning tradition.

The time for a young quarterback and an improving offensive line to reach inside, determine how they want to be remembered, and advance to the next level. A chance for the wide receivers to prove they are the best in America (they haven’t yet). The stiffest test thus far for a defensive unit that has made it possible for UofL fans to envision a victory over a Florida State, needing to stop 6-foot-4, 230-pound Heisman-winning quarterback Jameis Winston, proving he’s human, preventing him from making UofL just another victim in a long line of many. Punish him for transgressions on and off the field.

Whether this is the biggest game in UofL history is debatable. It would be hard to top wins in the Fiesta Bowl, the Orange Bowl and the Sugar Bowl. The next game is always the most important, regardless of the foe. One must admit, however, that Florida State looms much larger than most, definitely the biggest regular season game in several years.

UofL has already arrived at the next level, but it’s only the beginning. Time to take the next step and move on. Win this one and there will be even bigger games ahead.

Part 2: Jurich on scheduling, Big 12 champ game, UK football series, Johnny U

Wrapping up Tom Jurich’s remarks on issues affecting University of Louisville athletics during a question-and-answer period during his Tuesday appearance at a fundraising event for the Central Cardinal Club at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium:

Scheduling Top Tier Teams:  “We’ve looked closely at it. We’ve been close to a couple of deals with Notre Dame and other teams. But again, you have to look at the philosophy of most of these teams which is that if they have three out-of-conference games, they’re going to schedule three home wins. Now this is all going to change. I think the scheduling will loosen up a bit quite a bit right now (with the new Selection Committee coming for the playoffs). I really do. The one thing I’m totally against, all the hard work we’ve put into this program will all be torn down if we buy into two-for-one’s. Perception is everything. If we have to back to playing two-for-one’s, it not the right thing for our program at all. I don’t think on one hand we can say we’re a prominent program, a top 15 program, and have to go play two-for-one’s. I just don’t want to do that. It will kill us.”

Big 12 Championship Game:  Certainly there’s a scenario for there to be pressure on the Big 12 to have a championship game from a numbers standpoint. This week they have six teams in the top 25. If you can do that every year, you probably don’t need a championship game. They go back 10 years ago to when Oklahoma was denied a shot at the national championship when it was beaten by another conference team. That’s where the sour taste comes from, the bitterness about playing a conference championship game. I think down the road they should play a championship game but I don’t think it’s going to be in the near future.”

On Continuing the Football Rivalry with Kentucky: “I certainly hope the rivalry continues the way it’s going in football. I haven’t had any discussions with Mitch Barnhart about this or ending the series. I know from our standpoint, no matter what conference we’re in, we want to play the game. It’s Kentucky and that means everything to us around here and everything to them even though they won’t admit that. It’s a huge rivalry game and you don’t ever want to let those games go. Traditions are hard to come by. I can’t speak for them but, from our standpoint, we’re in forever.”

How ESPN feels about three unbeaten Big East teams:  “In my opinion, the lack of interest we’ve gotten from ESPN is only tied to the contract issue. They’re trying to push us down in the sand as they try to do the conference. We will be a player. It’s going to be hard for them to avoid the Big East because they’re totally surrounded by it. UConn is in their back yard, you’ve got St. John’s in New York, you’ve got Providence in the Boston market. ESPN grew up on Big Monday basketball. Going to be hard to ignore Big East basketball although in this equation, it’s football, football, football … If we can take care of business this week (against South Florida), next Friday (against Cincinnati) could be an electric atmosphere. (The game will be telecast on ESPN).”

All Volleyball Games in Yum! Center —  “Probably not. We don’t have a contract for volleyball. We’re only contracted for men’s and women’s basketball. The Yum! Center is letting the volleyball team play games there on pretty much an availability basis. They can’t be a position where they’re tying those dates up.  The new AEG management group consists of great people. They will work with us. If they have dates for volleyball, we will get them. Attendance has been fantastic but when you look at volleyball versus a concert date, there’s no comparison. They have to pay the bills.”

State High School Football Championships at Papa John’s — The games are played during a week that the Big East want to reserve for conference games, whether one is scheduled or not. “We thought they still could have played it here .. We’d love to have it here, it makes a lot of sense. ”

Moving the Johnny Unitas Statue:  “That would be Charlie Strong’s call,” he said, in reference to complaints about the statue being covered up by the rubberized tunnel before games.

Big East football continues to defy ESPN meddling

The timing couldn’t be better for the Big East to be negotiating television networks for future football coverage.

The latest Associated Press poll has three undefeated Big East teams among the top 25 teams in the country, the University of Louisville (6-0) at 16th, Rutgers (6-0) at 19th, and Cincinnati (5-0) at 21st.

More than a little ironic that the Big East is legally obligated to negotiate with ESPN for a couple more weeks. This is the same network that has downplayed Big East football  on and off the air for five seasons, influencing conference realignment decisions in some instances.

As Charlie Strong told USA Today: “It’s exactly what this conference needed. We have been able to make a statement.” More from the same article:

The Big East has long hoped to capitalize on being the last major college sports property up for bid in this cycle. Mike Aresco, a former vice president at CBS Sports, believes its attractiveness has been enhanced by a strong non-conference performance this year, including Rutgers’ win at Arkansas and Cincinnati’s victory against Virginia Tech. He’s also touting another good season by No. 22 Boise State (5-1), which will join next year.

“I think it’s important because it reminds our media partners of the football we’ve had,” Aresco said. “It’s fortuitous it’s happening now and the way it’s happening, but it also gives them a sense that longer-term we’re going to be a very good football league.”

Certainly better than the Atlantic Coast Conference, which landed a deal worth $17 million per school with ESPN earlier this year. The current arrangement between the Big East and ESPN, paying $3.5 million per school, can be renegotiated on the open market starting Nov. 1 with other networks.

NBC/Comcast is reportedly waiting in the wings, needing football programming inventory, eager to capitalize on expanded national reach of the conference and, especially, the large eastern media markets. An aggressive, thoughtful and long-term negotiating process would greatly benefit all parties.

No better time to have three undefeated teams, assuring that Big East football is not going away, much to ESPN’s regret.

ESPN dictates 11 a.m. kickoff for Pitt game

One more reason for the Big East to get out of the contract with ESPN.

The game time for the University of Louisville-Pittsburgh football game has been set for 11 a.m. on ESPN-U on Oct. 13th, all but guaranteeing a low turnout from an already suspect Pitt fan base. Through the first three home games, Pitt’s average attendance is 41,773 per game at Heinz Stadium.

The conference is currently in negotiations with ESPN, and is prohibited from talking with other networks until early November. That’s when the Big East and NBC Sports/Comcast will be able to start forming a real partnership.

Seriously, a ranked, undefeated team relegated to playing a morning football game? Someone needs to start saying no.