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Tag: Louisville football

Louisville wraps up Notre Dame preparations

November 20, 2014 0 Comments

Coach Bobby Petrino with that game face of his, likes what he’s seen in practice, preparing for the elements, as the University of Louisville football managers load up the equipment truck for the program’s first trip to South Bend and Notre Dame:

Louisville Sports Report video.

Louisville gets football foe that has eluded UK

November 19, 2014 6 Comments

While some fans of school in Lexington may be ready to relegate their football program back to its dusty spot on the shelf, already having morphed into basketball mode, followers of the University of Louisville are preparing for one of the most symbolic football games in school history.

UofL and Notre Dame will meet for the first time ever in football Saturday at South Bend, ushering in a significant new rivalry. The iconic symbol of collegiate athletic programs in America, Notre Dame is the team every other team in America wants to play.

Photo by Menefee Seay

Saturday’s game will be another reaffirmation of the school’s commitment to compete at the highest levels in all sports. While basketball will always be a prestige program, Rick Pitino’s teams must share top billing with Bobby Petrino’s football program. UofL has been investing heavily in both programs for quite a while.

That’s as it should be because college football is among America’s most popular sports, falling only behind the National Football League and Major League Baseball in overall popularity, according to a 2014 Harris Poll. Auto racing is fourth, the National Basketball Association fifth, and the National Hockey League is sixth.

College basketball is seventh, believe it or not, only slightly ahead of tennis, boxing, swimming and golf. The poll results aren’t broken down by geography but suffice it to say, college basketball would obviously score much higher in Kentucky. Even in Louisville, which is consistently among the top TV markets for NCAA basketball.

Tom Jurich is ahead of the curve, having made the UofL football program one of his top priorities after his arrival. He has already engineered one major stadium expansion and he’s considering still another. Jurich was working for a date with Notre Dame long before the Atlantic Coast Conference was considered a possibility. He was able to leverage UofL’s football and basketball success into ACC membership, paving the way for this historic game.

Meanwhile over in Lexington, the University of Kentucky is finally renovating Commonwealth Stadium to accommodate more luxury suites (even though it is losing 6,000 seats) and investing in Mark Stoops to make football competitive. No doubt Kentucky fans will quickly jump aboard the band wagon if and when he does. Meanwhile, UK will remain a basketball school in a conference in which football will always be king.

Curiously, Kentucky and Notre Dame have never played in football, despite having played 62 basketball games since 1929. Whether UK administrators weren’t able to use their basketball leverage to get on Notre Dame’s schedule, UK couldn’t envision such a game, or the Irish simply weren’t interested may never be known. But it probably says something about Kentucky’s over-the-top obsession with basketball.

Louisville wins playing Notre Dame, but has higher aspirations

November 18, 2014 2 Comments

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.

Petrino presser

November 17, 2014 0 Comments

Bobby Petrino begin his remarks at about the half way point in the video. Link for mobile users

Jurich wants to expand PJCS but not without due diligence

November 12, 2014 15 Comments

Tom Jurich said for the first time publicly Tuesday that he’s in favor of expanding Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. But he also indicated more study is needed before the University makes a final decision on upgrading the stadium.

“We’re looking at it very hard. It’s something we want to do,” said the Vice President of Athletics of the University of Louisville during a meeting of the Central Cardinal Club at PJCS. “I’m not saying we’re going ahead with it because there’s a lot we have to do behind the scenes. If we do expand, we want to make sure it’s not just a bunch of extra seats.”Papa_John's_Cardinal_Stadium_after_expansion_in_2010

Jurich said he recently took a tour of Cowboys Stadium in Dallas with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and his family. “They do things right there, and we got a lot of good ideas out of that,” he said. “I’m very proud of our stadium but before we do anything I want to ensure that whatever we do is first class. The wow factor is always a part of my vocabulary.

“We’re moving toward our goal and our goal is to build it but first we’ve got make sure there are no obstacles and that everybody is on board.”

He also announced that the 2019 home game against Notre Dame would be the season opener on Labor Day, a Monday game that will be nationally televised.

For almost an hour, Jurich answered dozens of questions, encouraging fans to ask about any aspect of the athletic program. Jurich gave the impression he wasn’t going to leave the podium until fans had no more questions. The following are his responses to some of the issues:

Paying or providing stipends to college athletes?

“My stance on that will never change. I’m not in favor of paying athletes. I think they get a heck of a deal, much more than you put a dollar figure on, the connections they make, the comradery, the networking, the tutoring they get. I think 99% of the athletes are appreciative of what they get. But you’ve got a lot of outside influences pushing these kids, and it sounds better coming from an 18- or 19-year-old kid than from a 45-year-old attorney. If they do wind up paying athletes, they have to pay them all.”

The PJCS party deck and empty seats?

“Fans have changed. You’re not going to tell 17- to 22-year-old college students to stay in their seats for four hours.”

Improving wireless access in PJCS?

“We’re planning on installing a DAS (distributed antenna system) system. That should enable people to do anything they want on a cell phone inside the stadium.”

One and done system for basketball?

“Some people have done well with it but I like the way we’re doing. It works for UK but what we do works for us. There’s nothing Rick Pitino enjoys more than seeing his kids graduate, watching them grow.”

Swimming program potential and facility?

“Arthur Albiero has done a great job with this program. The men’s program is currently seventh nationally … We’d love for the facilities to be bigger but they are adequate. When you have some success, fans want to come and it becomes a hotter ticket ”

Stronger signal for UofL baseball radio broadcasts?

“We’re working on that and making some progress.”

 Future of the silo site?  

(Smiling) “We’d like to have the Yum! Center there. If we could pick it up and move it. It would have been the perfect place for the arena … If they want to kick us out downtown, we have the perfect place for an arena.  Right now, we have no plans for the site. We’ll go along with whatever the university wants to do.”

Financials of the KFC Yum! Center?

The financials are fine. We’re taking some heat from some people but UofL is keeping the lights on there.

Adding another sport?

“I just don’t see the need for another sport right now. We’re doing well with Title IX and it’s important that we stay balanced. We don’t see any need to expand beyond the 23 sports we have now and risk diluting any of them.”

The UofL golf course?

“We’ve invested in it already and want to make some more improvements so that it’s state of the art. Our goal is to make it the best facility in Louisville next to Valhalla. We want to have a lot of social activities and make the venue available to everybody. The golf is for league play and the members.”

ACC TV Network?

“It’s in discussion … Everybody wants to make sure it’s a win-win for everybody.”

Will Gardner out, Petrino on the case

November 11, 2014 0 Comments

Will Gardner has advanced so far this year only to have his season end abruptly. He’s out for the season with a knee injury that will require surgery.

Displaying such confidence after such a rocky start, connecting immediately with DeVante Parker after his return from injury. Again and again.

Will Gardner

Will Gardner

His sophomore season ending on what looked like a simple pass, landing softly on his left leg, but wincing and kneeling in pain, limping off the field. Reminding one of Brian Brohm’s injury during his junior year. So non-threatening the fall, but with heartbreaking implications in each case.

“It is really unfortunate and disappointing for Will because of how hard he has worked and how respected he is in the locker room,” head coach Bobby Petrino said.  “Will will continue to be an integral part of our program moving forward because of his leadership he has displayed and the respect he has in the locker room. ”

Gardner started seven games for the Cardinals, posting a 5-2 mark. He threw for 1,669 yards and 12 touchdowns, with three interceptions.

Fortunately Coach Bobby Petrino has extra time to work with Reggie Bonnafon before the Notre Dame game Nov. 22. Equally important, he will get a look at a new backup.

Petrino has been down this road before. Remember Michael Bush going down the first game during the 2006 season? The University of Louisville won the BCS Orange Bowl that season. He will make it work.

Dominique Brown missing in action in Louisville rushing attack

November 10, 2014 0 Comments
Dominique Brown

Dominique Brown

Dominique Brown was listed as a participant in the win over Boston College, but  he never touched the football. Once thought to be the best hope for the running game, he appears to have become an afterthought for the coaching staff.

Brown tweeted after the Boston College game something to the effect that he couldn’t understand why he wasn’t getting chances and the coaches weren’t telling him why. If Coach Bobby Petrino would ever to respond to a tweet, it would most likely be in a negative way.

Maybe the reason he has fallen off the chart has been the emergence of Brandon Radcliffe and Michael Dyer as the primary rushing threats. No explanations coming from the coaching staff lately, and no reports of Brown having been injured.

The only comment Coach Bobby Petrino had made publicly is that Brown needs to lower his shoulders when he gets the ball. Most of Brown’s success comes when he’s going full speed. Rarely does he change direction or break tackles.

The stock of the big 6-foot-2, 242-pound running back has fallen off sharply since the opening game against Miami.  Seemingly unstoppable in that game, racking up 151 yards and a touchdown in 33 carries. Running over people in that game, seemingly headed for a memorable season.

However, over the next four games — against Murray State, Virginia, Florida International and Wake Forest — he would manage only 150 yards in 34 carries. He would get three carries before fumbling a handoff in the Wake Forest game and getting pulled from the game. Against Syracuse he would gain 41 yards rushing and 39 on a pass play. At Clemson, he would put up 51 yards rushing and 39 on a reception.

Through the first seven games, Brown had gained 393 yards on the ground, averaging 3.9 yards per carry, and scored four touchdown. But then came the big games against Florida State and Boston College where he was nowhere to be found in the offense.  The first player to commit to Charlie Strong in 2010, Brown had rushed for 1,417 yards and 12 touchdowns in his career coming into this season.

Petrino goes with the players based on how well they do in practice.  Brown’s best chance of becoming relevant again is to start lowering those shoulders during practice sessions leading up to the Notre Dame game. That simple adjustment, combined with the noticeable improvement in the offensive line’s performance, could reap some significant dividends for him and his teammates.

Playing with more emotion and staying off Twitter wouldn’t hurt either.

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