Ramsey, Rutherford exit too quickly from Louisville sports radio

No face to face, no letters of resignation, just a couple of emails on Friday from John Ramsey and Mike Rutherford to the boss Drew Deener that they were resigning from their sports radio talk show on ESPN 680. 

Outta here. Gone. Effective immediately.

No advance notices, no apologies to the listeners, nothing that would be considered anywhere close to a graceful exit. They were done.

So abruptly that many University of Louisville fans thought it was an April Fool’s joke, occurring on the eve of April 1. Others speculating that Ramsey and Rutherford had been enticed to another radio station and were unable to discuss their plans because of contractual obligations.

Turns out, as Rutherford explains on his web site, that working multiple jobs on a taxing schedule was apparently taking a toll. Something had to give, and it turned out to be the radio show. Ramsey, who was originally a solo act, may have decided that the show had limited potential without Rutherford.

The most surprising thing about the episode was the speed with which the departures happened. Coming as a shock for some listeners who tuned in day after day for their take on UofL sports.

Imagine Drew Deener’s shock at learning about the resignations via email, two of his most valued personalities leaving immediately, not bothering to give him or the listeners any advance notice.

Ramsey was probably the biggest homer on sports talk radio, leaning heavily on Rutherford for facts and insights. Rutherford, meanwhile, had a radio voice that could only be described as monotonal and grating at best. 

The fact that they were both longtime UofL fans, with easy access to Louisville coaches and other personalities, made the show an entertaining one while filling a local media void.

Ramsey was never bashful when it came to professing his devotion to the Cardinals or making his contempt known for the Wildcats. Rutherford, on the other hand, was obviously one of the most knowledgeable and respected sources on UofL sports in the community. 

A sudden, strange and awkward departure. Their listeners, and their boss, deserved better.

Where Louisville fits in conference realignment

So where will the University of Louisville wind up when all the conference reshuffling and expansion is done?

Presently U of L appears to have been passed over by the ACC in favor of schools like Syracuse and Pittsburgh, maybe even UConn and Rutgers. West Virginia seems to have the inside track on an invitation to the SEC if the decibel level of the rumor mill has any credence.

Does anyone seriously doubt that U of L is not among the institutions that have submitted applications for membership into those conferences? We have no doubt that U of L has applied, no matter what Tom Jurich may say publicly. Louisville has earned the right for serious consideration, with all the physical improvements, athletic feats and academic achievements the school has made over the last decade or so.

Personally we believe U of L’s best shot still may be the SEC because of the relationship Tom Jurich developed with SEC Conference Commissioner Mike Slive who once held the same position in Conference USA. Slive is familiar with U of L and the support the school enjoys in this area. And we don’t think it was a coincidence that an anonymous source in the SEC told the Associated Press that “Louisville makes the most sense.”

A football program that attracted 50,500 fans per game last season, a basketball program consistently among the top five nationally in attendance, a brand new 22,000-seat arena that is the finest basketball facility in the country and the most profitable basketball in the nation, plus highly competitive and well attended non-revenue sports. ESPN sure seemed to like U of L football on Thursday nights a few years ago. What’s not to like?

The size of the TV market obviously plays a role. But U of L has a larger fan following than schools like Rutgers and UConn in more densely populated areas. We happen to believe there is a correlation between TV viewers and people who actually turn out for games. The fact that U of L shares the market with the University of Kentucky is no different from Vanderbilt fighting for attention with Tennessee fans.

Academics? The medical school has been a pioneer with its involvement in heart and organ transplants, a vaccine against a form of cervical cancer, and is currently deeply involved in bio hazard and stem cell research. U of L also has turned out 14 Fulbright Scholars during each of the last two academic years, ranking 23rd among U.S. universities in Fulbright Scholars this year, according to the Chronicle for Higher Education.

Other institutions can and are making similar claims in other areas, of course, and thus far our arguments seem to be falling on deaf ears. Even if the facts in favor or U of L’s inclusion into a more prestigious conference seem incontrovertible to us. We’re a more recent arrival to the major conference scene, and that’s probably not a good thing in an environment where long-standing stereotypes and depth of state support seem out of proportion in the decision making process.

The herd mentality of some rushing into the 16-team conferences doesn’t appear to have been fully embraced by all of the major entities. The Big Ten decided to stop at 12, for example. Expansion could be a huge mistake for some, leading to painful contractions within a decade. How would that feel, being asked to leave?

More than likely, the Louisville Cardinals will wind up in a mix of the old Big East and Big 12 conferences. Drop the Big East designation in the process.  And it wouldn’t be a bad thing to be playing Kansas home and away in basketball annually.

Pitino will be selective

Rick Pitino has already been accused of being disingenuous (fibbing or lying) about what’s he’s looking for in recruits this summer at the basketball recruiting camps/factories.

Pitino has been known to say one thing and do another but we want to take him at his word:

“We’re looking at attitude almost as much as basketball this year, making sure the young man really wants to be a Louisville Cardinal,” he told Jody Demling, of the Courier-Journal.

Pitino made the statement while in Indianapolis with assistants Kevin Keatts and Wyking Jones checking out talent at the adidas Invitational.

If attitude is the priority, U of L fans can probably eliminate Chris Thomas, a 6-foot-4 guard from Colorado, who was benched early during a scrimmage for two technical fouls — one for taunting, another for talking back.

Also watching Thomas was John Calipari, of Kentucky, who has never concerned himself much with player attitudes or school loyalties. Better fit, maybe.