Timing Is Everything

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Great news for University of Louisville football: the 2009-10 U of L basketball schedule reportedly will be announced Thursday or Friday this week, allowing most of the hoopla to subside almost a full week before the next football game. Good move, if true.

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Marquis Teague Keeps Louisville Guessing

Anyone surprised that the next great player on the University of Louisville’s basketball recruiting list is suddenly interested making a visit to Lexington? That would be Marquis Teague, considered the nation’s top high school point guard and one of the best players in the 2011 class.

The scenario is a familiar one, a teenage phenom caught up in the hoopla, leveraging schools against each other, allowing rumors to fester, all the while milking the process for all it’s worth. The dad gets himself intricately involved, and the ordeal becoming even more complicated.

U of L has long been considered his favorite because his father, Shawn Teague, played for Rick Pitino at Boston University. But when he’s also looking at Kentucky, Cincinnati and Purdue, there are obviously some other factors involved.

Recent history indicates that’s not a good situation for Louisville. Don’t get hung up over this one.


Memphis Takes The Hit

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The NCAA has scheduled a news conference at 3 p.m. today in Indianapolis to release findings of its investigation into violations committed by the University of Memphis. The school has scheduled a presser to follow it.

The Commercial Appeal newspaper quoted a source close to the situation in reporting Memphis would be forced to vacate its record for the 2007-2008 season, which has a record 38 victories. John Calipari, who left Memphis for Kentucky, also had a Final Four vacated when he was the head coach at Massachusetts in 1996.

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And the Memphis program will owe big bucks:

The penalties for the men’s basketball violations, some of which were self-imposed by the institution and adopted by the committee, are as follows:

  • Public reprimand and censure.
  • Three years of probation (August 20, 2009, to August 19, 2012).
  • Vacation of all wins in which the men’s basketball student-athlete competed while ineligible during the 2007-08 regular season and 2008 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship.
  • The university must return all money it received to date through Conference USA revenue sharing for its appearance in the 2008 NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship. All future distributions to the university from this appearance must be withheld by the conference and forfeited to the NCAA.

Louisville Target: Fab Melo

Every year there’s one big man everybody knows can turn a good team into a great team. That person in the 2010 recruiting class is Fab Melo, a 7-foot, 270-pound prospect from Brazil who will play his senior year at Sagemont High in Weston, Fla.

The good news for University of Louisville basketball fans is that Mr. Melo has Rick Pitino’s team high on his list of possible teams. The other news is that he is also said to be considering Florida, Florida State, UConn and Duke.

That list seems to expand and contract every few days with Syracuse, Georgetown and Kentucky once included on the list. The only constant has been U of L among the favorites.

Card fans have been down this road more than a few times.

Overdue. Let it happen.


Fan Loyalty Runs Deep In Louisville

Louisvillians are often subjected to the idea that the fan allegiance of local residents is equally divided between the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky, even among those who should know better. Rick Pitino, for example, has even advanced the notion.

Not true.

Not even close, according to the most recent Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll, which was conducted in 2005. The poll should have settled the issue once and for all. But UK fans and some media types, who missed front page story, tend to be research-challenged , or just count on the forgetfulness of the general public, persist in advancing the misconception.

That’s why the observer keeps a copy of the results, hopeful that the facts will make their way to the misinformed or blissfully ignorant. The poll indicated:

  • Fans of Louisville Cardinals basketball outnumbered Kentucky Wildcat fans by 53.7% to 33.3% in the Louisville area.
  • Fans of Louisville football weighed in at 61.3%, as compared to 20.8% for Kentucky football.

Courier-Journal columnist Eric Crawford, who was deeply involved in the poll and wrote the CJ story about the results, told Card Game:

“The project used one of the largest samples of any of the Bluegrass State polls, owing to the diversity of the population that follows sports. It was far larger a sample, for instance, than a gubernatorial or presidential poll we would have taken in the state. It also came at an opportune time: Both UK and U of L were doing exceptionally well in basketball. U of L was on its way to a Final Four, while UK was within an eyelash of getting there, too.”

The results reinforced a  Yankelovich study the Courier-Journal conducted a decade or so ago, showing Louisville with a similar lead in both sports.

Neither of polls took into consideration the bandwagon factor, people who switch favorites depending on how well one or the other is doing. Some will apparently jump from a loser to a winner in a heartbeat. Also, football teams going in different directions might affect the numbers slightly. And, as we’ve seen, a new hire in basketball will definitely raise the decibel levels.

But for the most part, fan loyalties tend to be deeply entrenched. Doubtful that the ratios have changed much. Or that the mistaken pronouncements about the fan ratios, intentional or unintentional, will fade away any time soon.