Georgia better football foe than LSU for Louisville

Thanks, LSU.

According to some, the LSU administration was insecure about its ability to sell tickets for an LSU-UofL matchup in the Music City Bowl and, as a result, the University of Louisville football team will be playing Georgia in the Belk Bowl on Jan. 30.

While the traveling distance — an eight hour drive to Charlotte as opposed to 2 1/2 hours to Nashville — is a concern to some Cardinals’ fans, the actual matchup is even better, with UofL ranked 20th, Georgia 13th in the final College Football Playoff ranking.

If the claim is true, Louisiana is mired in the mid-Sixties about football perceptions. Reportedly using its clout to lobby for what it perceived to be a bigger name opponent, LSU was able to get Notre Dame, practically guaranteeing a win over a traditional power.

Steve Kragthorpe
Steve Kragthorpe

Or, shudder to think that Steve Kragthorpe, a former UofL football coach fired after three disastrous seasons, may have had a hand in the decision. Kragthorpe is listed on LSU’s roster as Chief of Staff and Special Assistant to the Head Coach. Hard to imagine him wanting LSU to run up against Louisville.

We get it that UofL fans should be insulted by what LSU fans would perceive as a sleight. What they can’t comprehend from their exalted view is that the University of Louisville is a respected football institution, with two BCS bowls to its credit and a member of the club. Typical SEC pretentiousness, we suspect.

LSU Football Coach Les Miles also may have had visions of getting his butt handed to him in Nashville, with as many as 35,000 University of Louisville fans witnessing the humiliation. That possibility would have been a bit much for a school whose universe revolves around Tiger Stadium with its 102,321 seats and its football legacy. So Miles settles for a ho-hum matchup against Notre Dame.

Would Louisville fans like to have played LSU in the Music City Bowl? Of course, but a game matching up two of college football’s better teams from the 2014 season means much more.

UofL Defensive Coordinator Todd Grantham left Georgia last year to join Coach Bobby Petrino. Grantham spent four years as Georgia’s defensive coordinator where his defense was among the nation’s best in 2011. Louisville’s defense is currently ranked sixth in overall defense this season.

The Belk Bowl will be one of only 10 bowls this year that has two ranked teams competing against each other.

Crawford on Petrino and the fear factor

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Some long-awaited insight may have finally been provided into the dramatic shift that occurred in the University of Louisville’s football fortunes after Steve Kragthorpe succeeded Bobby Petrino as head coach. 

Eric Crawford, former Courier-Journal columnist and current WDRB analyst, interviewed several former UofL players off the record for an in-depth analysis. Petrino apparently instilled such fear in players that, even now, they need assurance their identities will be concealed. 

The piece also sheds some light on possible reasons why players under Kragthorpe were mysteriously being benched for games or later dismissed from the team without any explanations.

The logical conclusion is that Petrino and Kragthorpe had different approaches for dealing with substance issues. Doing it the right way may have been the wrong way for one and the wrong way the right way for another … with strikingly different results in the wins and losses columns.

Link to must reading for U of L football fans.

Damian Copeland leaves an imprint

Before last Sunday’s game, Damian Copeland’s trademark was the streak of golden hair extending from near the front of his forehead to the back of his neck, the junior resembling a would-be rock star more than a football player.

Despite his striking appearance, Copeland was largely ignored by writers and broadcasters attending the pre-season Media Day event in the press box at Papa John’s. His playing credentials weren’t all that impressive, getting injured in the one game in which he played last season. Caught eight passes for 132 yards as a freshman but was rarely mentioned among the gifted receivers on this team.

Yes, that Steve Kragthorpe, who was criticized for burning a number of red shirts during his final season.

No surprise if some of the attendees at the event, this one included, wondered why he was there, with only a few players chosen by Charlie Strong to meet the media. Damian Copeland? Really?

Copeland was suddenly thrust into the spotlight against Kentucky, with his diving shoestring snatch of 23-yard pass from Teddy Bridgewater who was avoiding tacklers in his own end zone. That unbelievable catch would change the complexion of the game, with the University of Louisville marching 97 yards for its first touchdown. He would make three other receptions for a total of 53 yards in the game.

Copeland was recruited by Steve Kragthorpe, who did all University of Louisville football fans a favor by red-shirting the Bradenton, Fla., recruit during his freshman year. Yes, that Steve Kragthorpe, who was criticized for burning a number of red shirts during his final season. Probably overlooked Copeland as well.

Out of the ashes

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Fourth year anniversary of Card Game, and the site goes down.

Visitors to the site Wednesday morning and afternoon were subjected to graphics and posts from four years years ago. Among them was a December 7, 2007 post about UCLA threatening to hire Steve Kragthorpe away from University of Louisville football. Little did we know what was in store for us then.

Sometimes you have to be careful about what you wish for, or what you don’t want to happen. But just imagine where we might be today if Charlie Strong had arrived two years earlier.

The observer could say he did it for nostalgic reasons or to celebrate the anniversary but he would be lying. The retro look, the flashback as a creative concept never would have occurred to him. Wednesday was torture until he got the word the site was propagating again.

Life was so simple before the Internet. Thanks for checking back. 

We’ve got some catching up to do.  See ya after the basketball game.


Louisville basketball talent picks UofL

How long has it been since a Louisville high school player really got college basketball coaches excited? When was the last time U of L had any talent to pick from in its own back yard? Seems like forever.

The long dry spell may finally be over. Quentin Snider, a 6-foot-1 guard at Ballard High School and a member of the 2014 recruiting class, committed to Louisville Thursday, according to Jody Demling of the Courier-Journal:

“Any other school and we might have waited,” his father, Scott, said. “But Louisville is where he always wanted to go, so there was no other offer he needed to wait for. It’s a top-10 program and it’s right here.”

Louisville first and foremost.

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The family of Steve Kragthorpe has had a stretch of terrible luck since he left Tulsa in 2007 to become head football coach at Louisville. Sad to learn that he has contracted Parkinson’s Disease, a year after his wife was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

Kragthorpe is giving up his post as offensive coordinator at LSU to become the quarterbacks coach, a somewhat less stressful position. As we’ve seen with Muhammad Ali, the disease leads to shaking and tremors and difficulty with walking, movement and coordination. There’s no known cure.

Kragthorpe always seemed to be a likable individual, despite his shortcomings as a head coach. They’ve had plenty of opportunities, but few former players have disparaged him. What’s done is done, time for the trashing is past. We wish him well.

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A couple of more thoughts about the “UK Legends” playing the Dominican Republic national team at the KFC Yum! Center.

If the UK basketball coach were anyone besides John Calipari, the game could be perceived as a good will gesture. As we all know, however, Calipari has no good will for Rick Pitino or the University of Louisville.

A more appropriate opponent at the Yum! Center would have been a team consisting of former U of L players. That might have earned Calipari some respect and less suspicion about his motivation.

As for Denny Crum, he’s obviously not concerned about associating the rivalry with an exhibition game. It gets him a little notoriety and back on the basketball court, things he has obviously missed.