Louisville wins playing Notre Dame, but has higher aspirations

Notre Dame week is here.

A game against America’s most revered college football program, one that University of Louisville fans could only wish for until joining the Atlantic Coast Conference this year. Being the new member of the conference may have even been a factor, making scheduling the game easier for Notre Dame.

Simply playing on the same field as Notre Dame elevates the stature and credibility of the UofL program in the eyes of football analysts and fanatics. The game forces even the most hardened skeptics to respect Louisville football, acknowledging that the Cardinals have a legitimate chance of winning at South Bend.

Credibility in college football, where tradition and myths routinely shape perception, reality doesn’t come easily. As UofL fans have learned, the more traditional programs have huge advantages when it comes to weekly rankings, bowl selections and now national championship playoffs considerations.  Win or lose, Notre Dame will always be considered the superior program because of the ingrained beliefs of the opinion leaders, the people — the writers, the columnists, the broadcast networks, the coaches and college presidents — who shape the national perceptions of college football elite.

The 14-story Word of Life, also known as Touchdown Jesus, overlooking the south  end zone at South Bend.
The 14-story Word of Life mosaic, also known as Touchdown Jesus, overlooking the south end zone at South Bend.

A win for UofL at South Bend would be a shocker for millions of Irish fans across the country, possibly setting off still another ND coaching search after three consecutive losses. Sportscaster Howard Cosell once proclaimed that football is a religion for Notre Dame fans, only partially in reference to the 14-story mosaic of Jesus on the school library adjacent to the stadium.

For Louisville fans, however, it would be still another affirmation that Louisville can be among the nation’s elite football programs, reaffirming Howard Schnellenberger’s vow that “Louisville is on a collision course with the national championship” is another step closer to reality.

Afterall, Notre Dame is:

— The most successful program in college football history. In 100 seasons, the Irish have 670 victories, second only to Michigan (692), which has played nine more seasons.

— The winner of seven Associated Press national championships, two more than second-place Oklahoma and Alabama.

— The home of seven Heisman Trophy winners , more than any other school.

— A program that has had 10 undefeated and 25 one-loss seasons.

— The program has ranked in The AP Top Twenty 484 times since the poll’s inception in 1936, or 74.3 percent of AP polls, the most of any school. They have been ranked No. 1 seventy-five times, four more than runner-up Oklahoma.

Those are some almost awe-inspiring credentials, worthy of a program synonymous with college football in America. But this unique encounter finally provides UofL with a chance to add a rich bit of history to its own growing tradition after years of denied opportunities.

The stars have aligned, the opponents and the game have converged, and the impossible has become plausible.

UofL fan John Ramsey joins ESPN 680 lineup

John Ramsey
John Ramsey

John Ramsey, a longtime local radio personality and comedian, has joined the ESPN 680 radio lineup. He’s a staunch University of Louisville fan with the knowledge of the local sports scene to quickly become a force.

He’s going to provide a strong counter-punch to Matt Jones, the biased University of Kentucky fan, blogger and commentator, who delights as much in disparaging UofL athletics as he does in covering UK sports.

One difference is that Ramsey, a Ballard grad, actually played sports, including football and track. And he’s knowledgeable, with a quick wit and a wide assortment of skills

Ramsey strongly favors UofL even though he was once a member of UK’s track team. “What I didn’t like was the whole elitist thing with UK where they didn’t want to play UofL for so many years, like they were so far above us,” he said Monday on his 10 a.m. radio show. “It’s all about relationships with me. I got to know UofL coaches like Denny Crum, Howard Schnellenberger and other coaches over the years, and I’m a UofL fan.”

Among Ramsey’s considerable talents are his skills as an impressionist, often mimicking Howard Schnellenberger, Muhammad Ali and the late Howard Cosell. He had the hosts in stitches  on ESPN’s Early Birds show with a recent Schnelly call-in. Ramsey and Ali are, in fact, close friends. Watch for his exposure to quickly expand at ESPN.

He continues to host WAVE 3 Listens Live daily at noon on TV, and has worked for several local radio stations over the last 15 years.  He also is vice president of marketing and government affairs for the Ali Center and has worked in sports marketing at UofL. He also has performed at the Comedy Caravan.

Here’s a link to his version of the Big Blue Post Game Show.