Tom Jurich And The Louisville Football Promise

Season ticket sales for the upcoming University of Louisville football season are reportedly down 6,000 from last year. This is regrettable but not surprising, given all the grumbling surrounding the program.

A significant portion of the non-renewals has to include avid fans who want to send a message to Vice President of Athletics Tom Jurich expressing their displeasure about the disappointing descent of the program under Coach Steve Kragthorpe over the last two seasons.

The number also includes a large number of Johnny-come-lately types, those who jumped on the bandwagon during the years leading up to the historic Orange Bowl victory.

One suspects, however, that many from the above categories come from those who continually roam the concourses during games, those who show up late for game starts, and those who hit the exits early in spite of what is happening on the field.

And there are undoubtedly many individuals and families whose disposable incomes have been affected by a sour economy.

One suspects, however, that many from the above categories come from those who continually roam the concourses during games, those who show up late for game starts, and those who hit the exits early in spite of what is happening on the field.

On the other hand, the 27,000 ticket holders who will be at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium include people who know that U of L football will have its ups and downs. They may have serious doubts that Steve Kragthorpe is up to the job. However, they will be there for the program as they have been in the past, knowing their support is essential for future success.

They also are willing to tolerate the current coach, hoping Kragthorpe will defy the odds, hoping that he is a better manager of the game than he has demonstrated heretofore. They refuse to throw in the towel before a season has even begun.

They recognize that the long-term future of the program is defined in the steel framework of the expanding stadium. The construction is a guarantee that Tom Jurich will make the right decision at the right time to make good on his commitment to a much stronger future for the program.

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.


Kragthorpe Sets Sights For Louisville Football

University of Louisville fans want coach Steve Kragthorpe to be confident about the upcoming football season, want him to turn things around, get on the winning track. Right?Brochure

That’s debatable, especially among those who threw in the towel halfway through the 2008 season. Those fans still hanging in,  hoping for the best, might be a little encouraged by the Kragthorpe’s optimistic tone in a solicitation for the 2009 Kickoff Luncheon, August 13th:

“We are ready to set our sights on a Big East title and a trip to postseason play. We have a solid crew of veterans and a good nucleus that is poised to put the Cardinals in the thick of the Big East race. Led by senior wide receiver Scott Long and locals Doug Beaumont and Victor Anderson, the offense promises to be one to watch in 2009. Second team All Big East linebacker Jon Dempsey, defensive tackle L. T. Walker and safety Richard Raglin lead a hard-hitting and attacking-style defense that is primed to get after the opposition … Everyone associated with the football program looks forward to a promising 2009 campaign … “

One might expect the coach to be little more reserved, even if it is a brief paragraph in  a brochure. But, hey, it’s Kragthorpe’s team, and he apparently wants to build expectations for the faithful, as opposed to none for those lacking patience.