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.


Assist To Kragthorpe

By Charlie Springer

Football coaches lead a rough life, especially when the won-lost record doesn’t meet expectations. The three new assistants being added to Steve Kragthorpe’s University of Louisville staff are fully aware of the challenges facing the program. They’ve been around football and fans their entire lives.

The new coaches are Larry Slade, former defensive assistant at Tennessee, Brent Guy, former head coach at Utah State, and Jay Johnson, a former offensive coordinator at Southern Mississippi. larry_slade

Slade, an assistant to Phil Fulmer for 10 years, was in charge of the defensive  backs. This past season the Tennessee defense ranked fourth in the country in pass defense and tied for third nationally in total defense, allowing an average of 18 points per game. Before Tennessee, Slade spent five seasons at Texas A&M from 1994-98. His 1997 unit allowed a nation’s best three passing touchdowns.

“Larry is one of the most-respected defensive back coaches in the nation,” said Kragthorpe. “I worked with Larry at Texas A&M and he is one of the best I’ve ever been around.”

GBrent_Guyuy joins the Cardinals after spending four seasons as head coach at Utah State.  Guy went to Utah State from Arizona State where he was the defensive coordinator for four years. “Brent has a proven track record playing great defense wherever he has coached,” said Kragthorpe. “He had great success at Arizona State as a defensive coordinator and can add a lot of expertise to that side of the football.”

Johnson spent last season as an administrative assistant with UofL after spending five years at Southern Mississippi where, under his guidance, the Jay_Johnson Golden Eagles established a school record for total offense in 2007 with 5,066. “I’ve known Jay for a long time and he has an excellent offensive mind,” said Kragthorpe. “His teams at Southern Miss where very successful and explosive.”

Joining a program coming off two consecutive disappointing seasons requires confidence in the head coach and in your own abilities

Welcome to the University of Louisville, guys. We’re all in this together.