Many buses at Jefferson Transportation but just a UK bus for Louisville fans

University of Louisville fans showing up early Friday morning for a trip to South Bend were greeted by a giant bus bearing University of Kentucky advertising (WDRB TV graphic).

No sign of any giant buses ensconced with University of Kentucky logos or advertising at 11117 Decimal Drive in Jeffersontown on Monday morning.

That’s the address of the corporate headquarters that dispatched a UK bus to Cardinal Stadium on Friday to take 50 University of Louisville fans on a trip to South Bend, Ind. There were, however, 15 other tour buses bearing either Shockey Tours or Jefferson Transportation markings on Monday morning.

Numerous buses at the corporate headquarters but nothing but UK buses for Louisville fans (Charlie Springer photos).

Imagine the shock of approximately 50 UofL diehards who had for weeks been anticipating a fun trip with fellow fans to see their basketball team play at Notre Dame. Only to see a University of Kentucky bus arrive at the pickup point, according to a WDRB news report.

What were the transportation people thinking? That the group was going to some of the Midwest’s top casinos? Going sightseeing in January? A big family reunion in Northern Indiana? Not this trip, strictly basketball.

One UofL fan upon learning about the incident sent an angry email to Shockey Tours, angrily complaining:  “There’s no way you guys didn’t send that UK bus on purpose for the South Bend trip. Those customers deserve their money back.  If you don’t offer that, you should be ashamed. That’s just poor business. I’m all for rivalry and pranks but I wouldn’t be juvenile enough to let it cross over into my  business and customer service.”

He did receive a response from a Steve Cisco, apparently the driver who replied via Messager,  “Were you aware that this company is under new ownership? I was handed this trip a few days back with nothing but a pickup location, time and destination. I knew nothing of this group. I have offered a substantial discount on their next travel.”

Shockey Tours was purchased by Jefferson Transportation in Murray, Ky., in September (Charlie Springer photo).

Can’t imagine the person making the arrangements for 50 people never mentioning that a UofL group was attending a basketball game against Notre Dame. Likewise, it hard to see how one of the few UK-marked buses being the one that showed up.  It would seem like a bus driver would have much more information about a tour group. Was this really a coincidence or was he deliberately kept in the dark? Maybe the joke was him.

The Shockey Tours headquarters on Decimal Drive in Jeffersontown (Charlie Springer photo).

The company providing the bus, one of those large 56-passenger buses, was Jefferson Transportation, a Murray, Ky.-based business, which recently purchased all of Shockey Tours assets in Louisville. The company owns dozens, if not hundreds of buses in Louisville alone.

Jefferson Transportation has yet to respond to a telephone call from Card Game about the experience.

Another question that begs to be answered is why the University of Kentucky would be purchasing advertising on buses in Louisville. No one should be surprised that a school that has purchased local billboards for years would be seeking more exposure in the state’s largest city.

Many UK partisans no doubt laughing it up after hearing the story. It’s the kind of thing more than a few of them would wish upon Louisville fans. The kind of over reach that separates Cardinal fans from the insufferables.

Maybe, just maybe, it was a coincidence. However, the UofL fans who rode in a UK bus all the way to South Bend will never forget it and are unlikely to forgive the transportation provider anytime soon. If their team had not claimed a rare win over Notre Dame at South Bend, the 500-mile round trip would have been a total nightmare.

Louisville football is suddenly fun again

The Unversity of Louisville football team gave fans reasons to be optimistic about the future direction of the program (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

One of the biggest games in University of Louisville football history, with a new coach and a new attitude, accompanied by Notre Dame’s first ever visit to Louisville.

Lots of questions, mucho suspense, with Coach Scott Satterfield on the sidelines for the first time. Would the program begin the road back to respectability or linger in the wasteland created by the former mentor. A 35-17 loss to the Irish would certainly make one wonder.

Quarterback Jawon Pass celebrates with teammates after scoring his second touchdown, giving UofL a brief lead over the nation’s ninth-ranked team (Cindy Rice Sullivan phot).

The Observer is thrilled to report that Louisville is back on the right track again and few people in the record crowd of 58,187 would disagree, including the approximately 7,000 Notre Dame fans. The Cardinals arrived ready to rumble, maintaining their intensity during adversity, competing until the final whistle.

A red sea of humanity for the first Card March of the 2019 season.

As did the vast majority of UofL fans, hanging around long after the game had been decided. Basketball may be the dominant sport but football will always be the fun sport. The fans emerging from the shadows after a season from Hell, desperate for new signs of life from their favorite team.

No Louisville fan will ever be happy with a loss and this was no exception. UofL would in the game until the final seconds of the first half, until quarterback Jawon Pass would fumble on three consecutive plays. Should have been a 14-14 tie at the half, but those miscues opened the door for Notre Dame’s seven-point lead at the half.

Except for that disastrous series of plays, UofL looked like a team primed for a possible upset. The kind of win that speeds up the rejuvenation process, sending a charge through the fan base. Not to be. But plenty about which to be optimistic, with Louisville actually outgaining an opponent on the ground (249 to 230) for the first time since the Lamar Jackson era.

Serious questions remain about UofL’s passing game, with Pass completing only 12 of 28 passes for 134 yards. That has got to get better. But Pass was improved in other phases of his game, scoring two touchdowns on runs of eight and 17 yards. Nice to have some contributions from running backs from the running backs, with Javian Hawkins and Hassan Hall gaining 128 yards and 72 yards, respectively.

Scott Satterfield said afterwards that the team is going to keep improving, getting much better, and is ready to compete. Any UofL fan who saw the improvement from last season to now would have to agree. Louisville football has a future again.

Louisville football always a good excuse for a party

Forgive me for being ecstatic but another September has arrived. Another academic year at the University of Louisville, nine months of athletic competition … college football, basketball, baseball and soccer, et al. Making up for lost times over another long summer.

Kicking things off with a reunion of fellow UofL fans at Cardinal Stadium. The partying season on again, tens of thousands of fans converging in the parking lots, in the VIP suites and at the Cardinal Cabooses. Tailgating is back. Good friends, enjoying great food and beverages, many catching up with each other for the first time since the end of last season.

Vince Tyra hooks up with tailgaters at Harry’s Hangout in the former Green Lot. From left are Michelle Mitchell, Barbara Springer, Paula Derringer, Ginny Staley and Candy Cook.

Over at Harry’s Hangout in the newly-named Purple Lot (formerly the Green Lot), David Derringer and friends are erecting the canopies, lighting the grill, turning up the speakers, and preparing for another major feast and endless toasts and poppers. They’ve been getting together for more than a decade now, doing what they enjoy the most. Hell, it’s UofL and it’s UofL football, the place to be.

Louisville fans like to party, nobody has ever questioned that. But they are especially enthusiastic about celebrating at UofL events. It’s UofL against the world, as far as they are concerned, having gone through so much hell together the last three or four years. But it’s so much more than that, knowing how far the University has come over the decades despite many obstacles.

Progress has been driven by a number of UofL leaders over the years. Not the least of which was Howard Schnellenberger who dared dream of a national title in football. Former athletic director Bill Olsen introduced the notion of tailgating at the Fairgrounds, hired Schnellenberger, and built a football stadium on Belknap Campus Olsen’s successor, Tom Jurich, adding many more facilities, getting the University of Louisville in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Thanks to Jurich’s efforts, the University of Louisville opens the 2019 season with a bigger than life opening game against Notre Dame. A concept that would have been considered inconceivable a decade ago. UofL standing shoulder to shoulder with one of the richest traditions in college football. No matter the game turns out, it is an historic occasion for UofL fans.

Vince Tyra taking a business and fan-friendly approach, bringing ambitions of his own for UofL athletics, starting with the return-to-red seats. He has hired a young new coach in Scott Satterfield, trusting he will return Louisville football to national respect all over again.

Nobody from UofL is expecting a win against the Irish although many fans may be quietly hoping for some sort of miracle. It is a time for celebration because the hopes of Louisville partisans have been realized. They dared dream of days like these, like they did for their own stadium and wins in the Orange Bowl and Sugar Bowl. They dared to dream and, unbelievably in some cases, many of the dreams came true. Don’t tell a UofL fan something can’t happen because it does, more often than not.

Still a way to go for Louisville football. Well, actually some lost ground to make up after last season, but UofL fans are a hardy lot. Nothing has ever come easy for them. Much of the fun is in the journey, and it could be argued that the program is starting all over again.

That’s okay. UofL fans have been there, done that, and they’re ready to do it all over again. No matter how long it takes.

Notre Dame right opponent to welcome new era for Louisville football

Notre Dame is coming.

Not news to anyone but some of us had a hard time believing that would ever happen, the Irish showing up at Cardinal Stadium. Notre Dame is coming, one keeps repeating to himself.

Were it not for last season’s dismal season, the opening game against the Irish would have been the most anticipated game in University of Louisville football history. One has every reason to believe it will be a sellout and, in all likelihood, will set a new single game attendance record.

Some would argue that it couldn’t come at a worst time, with UofL coming off the most embarrassing seasons in the program’s history. Louisville has has had worse won-lost records, losing every game in the 1931 and 1932 seasons with identical 0-8 records. UofL won only 17 of 70 games during that decade.

Fact is the game against Notre Dame could have come under worse conditions. Bobby Petrino would still be coaching UofL football had Athletic Director Vince Tyra not had the guts to eat the $14 million payoff.  Sent Petrino packing. He’s gone, hopefully never to be seen in Louisville again.

Last year’s humiliating 2-10 record followed a $70 million expansion of Cardinal Stadium, buoyed by numerous finishes in the top 20. Growing seating capacity from 55,000 to 60,000-plus. Louisville was a contender, having earned national respect, greatly boosting the athletic department’s overall reputation. No longer just a basketball school.

Two seasons after Louisville football had risen to No. 3 in the national polls and competing for the college football playoffs. Those aspirations crashing down to earth following a 36-10 loss to Houston in the next-to-last game of the 2016 season. The Cardinals allowing 50 points in seven games during an awful 2018 season.

This season’s opener has been designated a Black Out game, with fans being encouraged to wear black. Not that any extra incentive was needed to get UofL fans there, not with Notre Dame being the opponent in the opening game of the season.

Ten months is a long time between seasons, especially between tailgating sessions for party-loving Louisville partisans. The long wait is over and there’s new blood with Coach Scott Satterfield and his enthusiastic staff. One has to believe last season’s team could not possibly have been as bad it looked at times.

It’s a new beginning for UofL football, fans recognizing there are going to be some significant challenges. Those of us who have been following the program for several decades, however, have been there before. Going to require a lot of patience and persistence, the kind that enabled UofL to become a national contender just a few years ago.

So forgive long-time Louisville fans if they are more than a little ecstatic that Notre Dame football is coming to town.

Louisville football poised for attendance records in 2019

A no-brainer really.

A bold prediction here as the schedule is announced for the 2019 University of Louisville football season, based on the combination of a new coach and one of the sport’s most hallowed programs.  

The opening game against the University of Notre Dame will set an all-time  attendance record for a football game in Louisville, attracting between 63,000 and 65,000 people to Cardinal Stadium. 

Even higher if Athletic Director Vince Tyra wants to fill every cavity in the stadium, which was expanded from 55,000 to 61,500 prior to last season.

The current record for a UofL home game was 55,642 on Sept. 16, 2016. The game was featured on ESPN’s Game Day. Louisville fans were attracted by a tenth-ranked Louisville versus second-ranked Florida State. No contest that day, with the Cardinals throttling the Seminoles 63-10.

Scott Satterfield’s first game as the new head coach signals a whole new beginning for UofL football, bringing with him a whole new staff, a fresh outlook and a commitment from the University to compete at the highest levels. 

Notre Dame, of course, has one of the largest fan bases in the country and attracts capacity crowds wherever it plays. Always has, probably always will.

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If Louisville football is on the uptick under the new staff next season, expect another capacity crowd to be on hand on Saturday, Oct. 19 for a game against Clemson, the defending national champion, with Heisman Trophy candidate Trevor Lawrence.

Clemson has played in Cardinal Stadium twice since UofL joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014, attracting 55,396 and 55,588 during the 2015 and 2017 seasons, respectively.

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UofL fans will also help Western Kentucky establish a new all-time attendance record at Houchens-Smith Stadium in Bowling Green. That is if WKU officials can somehow increase the stadium’s capacity for the game against Louisville on Sept. 14.

Louisville owns a 20-12 advantage in the series. The current WKY record is 23,674 for a game against Vanderbilt on Sept. 24, 2016. One can easily anticipate at that many UofL fans making the two-hour trip for this year’s game on Sept. 14.

UofL hasn’t played a football game in Bowling Green since 1949.

 2019 Schedule:

Sept. 2 — Notre Dame

Sept. 7 — Eastern Kentucky

Sept. 14 — At Western Kentucky


Sept. 21 — At Florida State


Oct. 5 — Boston College


Oct. 12 — At Wake Forest


Oct. 19 — Clemson


Oct. 26 — Virginia


Nov. 9 — At Miami


Nov. 16 — At North Carolina State


Nov. 23 — Syracuse


Nov. 30 — At Kentucky