Wow factors all in place for expanded Cardinal Stadium

Cindy Rice Shelton photos  No one could have imagined how grand the $63 million addition would be to the north end of Cardinal Stadium. The end result is nothing short of spectacular — a striking tribute to what has occurred at the University of Louisville over the past two decades and a monumental commitment to the school’s football program.

Vince Tyra is placing a heavy emphasis on a positive fan experience in his role as UofL Athletic Directory (Cindy Rice Shelton photos).

One could only marvel at all the changes that will be on display Saturday for UofL’s opening game against Indiana State. Approximately 5,400 new seats have been added, raising the stadium’s seating capacity to more than 60,000. Three mammoth new video boards have been installed, including two in the north end  zone and still another on the other end.

New, larger ribbon video bands have replaced existing bands throughout the stadium. The newly enclosed facility is also going to be louder than ever and vibrant, with the possibility of some unprecedented lighting effects. The upper level of the north end features the Adidas logo, in gray stripes among the predominant red seats.

Athletic Director Vince Tyra says the school is going all out to enhance the fan experience this season, having lowered prices on numerous concession items and offering specials to get fans into the stadium for kickoff. That includes opening the parking lots two hours earlier for tailgating, and opening the stadium gates 30 minutes earlier. And for the beer lovers, those  arriving early can purchase a draft beer for $2 on the Norton Terrace and $3 on the concourses throughout the stadium two hours before kickoff.

At long last, 20 years after the opening of Cardinal Stadium, a genuine tunnel for University of Louisville football players.

Tomorrow, tomorrow is always a day away, even for UofL football

By Keith Thomerson

The Louisville Cardinals lost. Way too many mistakes to beat a good Alabama football team, or any other football team.

The sun came up on Sunday and as I look out my home-office window, the sun is shining again. We must remember the game is played by 18 to 22-year-old young men. They make mistakes just like we all did and continue to do. They, as we have, will learn from those mistakes. The coaching staff will help them solve those mistakes and go on to the next game.

As a teenager, I tore an important three-paragraph piece out of a church bulletin. It has meant so much to me over the years and every time someone wants to criticize anything, I read it. The author is unknown.

“The galleries are full of critics. They play no ball. They fight no fights. They make no mistakes because they attempt nothing. Down in the arena are the doers. They make mistakes because they attempt many things.

“The person who makes no mistakes lacks boldness and the spirit of adventure. They are the ones who never tries anything. They are the brake on the wheel of progress.

“And yet it cannot be truly said, they make no mistakes because the biggest mistake they make is the very fact that they try nothing, do nothing, except criticize those who do things.”

The Louisville football team will get to play another game on Saturday. Hopefully, the mistakes will have been fixed.

Ho hum, familiar cast of characters for college football playoffs

Its the time of year when I unveil my college football final four and teams to watch. I’ll blindly predict who will be in the college football playoff. When I say blindly. I mean blindly.

I haven’t seen any of these teams play a game. I couldn’t if I wanted to because practices are closed to most everyone. Even if I could I couldn’t gather much from practice because after all it is just. Practice.

Let’s get this out of the way right away. Alabama is No. 1 in just about every preseason poll. They should be. It doesn’t take a genius to figure that out. The Crimson Tide have one of the best coaches of all time in Nick Saban and have had 10 top 10 finishes and won five of the last nine national championships.

According to the Alabama media guide, the Crimson Tide return 12 starters, seven on defense, three on offense and two specialist. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but believe me Bama has players, as will quickly become obvious against the University of Louisville on Saturday.

Continue reading “Ho hum, familiar cast of characters for college football playoffs”

Historic Camping World Stadium grand setting for Louisville football

Photo from / Camping World Stadium

The only safe assumption about the next game is that a big payday is coming for the University of Louisville football program in this season’s opener against Alabama in the Camping World Kickoff game. A sum of $2.75 million to UofL for agreeing to play in the game.

Not bad but Alabama, last season’s national champion, will take home more than $4.5 million. A far cry from the pre-Atlantic Coast Conference days for the Cardinals when Georgia once paid to get out of a game.

Camping World Stadium, with a seating capacity of approximately 68,000, has been growing ever since it was constructed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1936. It was a Works Progress Administration project intended to help end the Great Depression.

The original capacity was 10,000, expanded to 12,000 in 1952, and increased again to 17,000 in 1968. A major expansion occurred in 1976, raising capacity to 50,000 for the Tangerine Bowl. It expanded again, by approximately 18,000 seats in 1980, becoming the Citrus Bowl.

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The largest turnout ever at the Orlando stadium was 74,635 for a Wrestlemania event in 2008. Seriously? Apparently there’s a whole other fan universe out there.

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Petrino not backing off prediction about beating Alabama

Cindy Rice Shelton photo

The question was predictable so Coach Bobby Petrino was not insulted when a sportswriter asked on cue if Petrino still believed the University of Louisville football team could compete with Alabama.

“How do you know if you’ve succeeded (in convincing players they can beat Alabama)? Do you not know until game day?”

Most memorable was that 63-20 romp over 10th-ranked Florida State during the 2016 season. No one, not even Petrino, saw that one coming.

Questions for a man who has made motivating college football players his livelihood, entering his 31st year of collegiate coach, his 14th year as a head coach and his 10th year in Louisville (including a year as offensive coordinator). He owns a career record of 117-48 (.709) in 13 seasons.

No correct answer really but Petrino is courteous and respectful, knowing his team will be paying attention to the response, noting that the key is going into the game with confidence.

“One of the things that helps your confidence is that you really understand what you’re doing,” he said. “You study and know the game plan, and then you’re ready to go execute it.

“It’s not like it’s a new thing. It’s the same thing you try to do for every game. Part of your job as a coach is to get your players to believe you can go out there and win the game, to get your players to believe during the game that you’re going to win the game. That’s a big part of coaching.”

But how do you know you’re ready, comes the followup question from the same reporter.

A big grin from Petrino, the kind of confirmation that comes from a coach who recognizes the opportunity that comes from playing the No. 1 team in the country.

“Well, you go and play the game,” he said. “Here we go, time to do it!”

Easy to say, harder to do. Petrino is 5-14 against ranked teams at Louisville, the most recent losses coming to third-ranked Clemson and 24th-ranked North Carolina State last season.

The most impressive performance was that 63-20 romp over 10th-ranked Florida State during the 2016 season. No one, not even Petrino, saw that one coming.