Jeff Walz adds options for leaving Louisville post

Jeff Walz would address the question at least four more times after his opening statement about rumors of a potential job offer from the University of Tennessee, indicating that similar rumors have surfaced following the last four seasons.

Finally, on the very last question in the press conference, the Observer reminding Walz of his oft-repeated promise that he would leave UofL only if he retired or was fired. While not reaffirming that pledge,Walz did indicate that he would leave under a couple of other conditions.

“If the Los Angeles Lakers’ job came open, I might leave. If they offered me the job, I would be gone. If I could coach LeBron, I would leave. 

“If I could win the Powerball Wednesday night, I would leave, too. If I could pick the right six tonight, I might not see you all tomorrow.” The Powerball jackpot is an estimated 750 million bucks.

A couple of times during the press conference Walz said he was “not going to worry about” a job offer from Tennessee. “There is no job opening there right now,” he said. “This is a part of the business, you win and people start rumors. I have a game to prepare for. We’ll talk about it briefly with the team and move on.”

Walz is not getting fired, not retiring, not getting any offers from the Lakers, and the odds of anyone winning the Powerball jackpot are odds of 1 in 292.2 million. 

Cardinal fans can relax for now, at least until the Powerball numbers are announced. Until then, Jeff Walz’ focus is on the Oregon State tip off on Friday in the Sweet 16.

Rutgers standing by Julie Hermann

The clue that the accusations against Julie Hermann may have been bogus came from the video that was supposed to be the smoking pistol.

Hermann, the bridesmaid in a celebratory mood with a couple of drinks, hoping the bride doesn’t get pregnant in the middle of the volleyball season, but expressing her love and wishing the bride well. Nothing threatening about the video at all. Until after the assistant coach was fired and an aggressive attorney gets his clutches on the video.

Equally questionable is why a letter from the volleyball team would be surfacing 16 years after a team meeting was held? To whom was the letter addressed? If the letter was sent to Hermann, why was it in someone’s else’s possession all this time? She said her former boss never heard of it and she never heard her former players make the allegation.Hermann indicated she has no intentions of resigning.

Robert Barchi, the Rutgers President, issued a statement Monday saying the school is standing by Hermann.

“Over the course of the search, Julie’s record established her as a proven leader in athletics administration with a strong commitment to academic success as well as athletic excellence, and a strong commitment to the well-being of student athletes. Since the announcement of her selection, some media reports have focused on complaints about aspects of her early career. Looking at Julie’s entire record of accomplishment, which is stellar, we remain confident that we have selected an individual who will work in the best interests of all of our student athletes, our athletics teams, and the university.”

Like they say, hell hath no fury like a woman scorned. Hopefully, the cat fight is over.

Yes, UofL women to a Final Four, too

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Oh my goodness. Anything is possible now.

The University of Louisville women’s basketball team has done it again, taking down Tennessee 86-78 in another incredible performance, and is headed to the Final Four in New Orleans.

Now there are two UofL teams in the NCAA Final Fours. The women taking on California in New Orleans. The men squaring off against Wichita State in Atlanta.

The women have shaken for good being intimidated by the teams from the gender’s power structure, taking it to them, Baylor first, Tennessee next, surprising themselves, rewarding their coach, and serving notice that anything goes. Bring on California next, and either Notre Dame or UConn.

No team seeded higher than fourth has ever won a game at the Final Four. Doesn’t matter. The seemingly impossible hasn’t stopped this group of Cardinals yet. Things have changed.

“No one wanted to see us beat Baylor and Tennessee and we did both of those and now we’re going to the Final Four,” said Shoni Schimmel after the game.

Shoni is on fire, taking leadership, ownership and charge, playing fearlessly, making high percentage threes, barreling down the lane for twos. Shoni and Jude Schimmel combining for 39 points for a second consecutive game, scoring 24 and 15 points, respectively.

Monique Reid was there at the end again, sinking six of six free throws when Tennessee was making its run. Playing with one leg wrapped from the ankle to her knee and above, overcoming the pain, wanting to stretch her collegiate career, contributing 13 points.

Sara Hammond, Mighty Sara, not getting pushed around, taking it and dishing it, throwing her weight around, coming down with five rebounds, putting in 11 points, including a distant three.

Bria Smith, taking another beating, always getting beat up that girl, but getting back up, getting back in the fray, contributing 13 points.

Tennessee would seriously challenge the Cardinals in the closing minutes but Jeff Walz’ team refused to wilt. They’ve seen what it takes to be successful and they are hungry for much, much more.

The rush continues Sunday, against California, shortly  after 6 p.m. Breathe deeply, in and out, in and out, in and out.

Charlie Strong, a rare breed in his profession


Congratulations, University of Louisville fans.

You’re looking at a football coach with integrity who says what he means and means what he says. A man who takes loyalty seriously, values people who believe in him, and shares your passion for the university. Our shared experiences with people in his profession over the years underscore the fact that Charlie Strong is a rare breed in his profession.

After five of the most challenging days in his life, Strong was able to stand at the podium in the Schnellenberger Football Complex and give the reasons why he turned down an offer from the University of Tennessee to coach in the Southeastern Conference.

It's about serving others. It's about watching players come to college. It's about developing boys into men. When I thought about leaving I kept going back to we haven't finished the job yet, we're still growing together, we have a lot of work to do.

“When considering my future, I thought back to the first hours I talked to Tom Jurich. I remembered how he trusted me and how he was committed to leading the Cardinals back to a conference title, a BCS bid, and hopefully some day a national title. He gave me my first chance to be a head coach after being an assistant for 29 years. I was always on everyone’s short list but Tom let me know from the very beginning that I was the only one on his list. His unwavering loyalty to me and my vision has always been there.

“I also thought back to the city of Louisville and how it embraced me, my family and this football team. From the very first day I came to town, they received me with open arms. They have continued to believe since day one. I asked the team to believe in me and trust in me. I also told them we would be a family … and that we would grow together through wins and losses. I also asked the same from my coaches and their families.”

He also remembered the disappointing start last season after consecutive losses to Marshall and Florida International. “And here’s the athletic director coming to me with a contract extension,” he said.

And fans who welcomed the team back to Louisville at 4 a.m. last Friday after an emotional win over Rutgers to clinch the BCS bid. “Coach Pat Moorer gave them the trophy and let them pass it around.”

Strong didn’t want his coaching decision to be based on his ego or that of the players. “It’s about serving others. It’s about watching players come to college. It’s about developing boys into men. When I thought about leaving I kept going back to we haven’t finished the job yet, we’re still growing together, we have a lot of work to do.

“I knew this would be a great opportunity. When I thought about all the people I’ve run across in Louisville at the stadium, in the grocery store, on campus, at my daughters’ school, at their volleyball games, they’re all a part of my family.

“I celebrated when our soccer team went to the national championship match. I remember Sandy Pearsall’s softball team winning a school record 55 games. When the basketball team went to the Final Four, I was able to celebrate. I remember going to the swim match with my daughters hoping our team could win the Big East title. So much has been built in this athletic program under the leadership of Tom Jurich.

“As I talked with my family, it became crystal clear that I needed to stay here at the University of Louisville. Louisville has a special place in our heart. As I reflected over the past couple of days, I realized that the best decision was to stay here and built our football program, on the field and in the classroom … My enthusiasm and my heart are with the University of Louisville.”

Again, congratulations Louisville, you have the man overseeing the program that you’ve wanted for for so long. Three years down, hopefully many more to come.

Charlie Strong sends message to Louisville football fans


Charlie Strong is still keeping everybody guessing.

One thing Strong has made clear is that he doesn’t like to discuss football coaching rumors, wanting to hold people accountable for spreading them. He will not be rushed into making a decision, or even admit that he is considering making a change.  It’s all just speculation, as he keeps reminding us.

But whether he admits it or not, Strong is in serious deliberations right now with the universities of Louisville and Tennessee. At this point, Strong will already be making more money than Rick Pitino and could become one of the best compensated football coaches in America, whether he stays or goes.

Strong never wanted to be put into the same category as a Bobby Petrino or John L. Smith, rushing out to take another job after telling players and recruits that he was staying at Louisville. If he makes good on that promise, he is in a unique category as a college football coach. Whether or not it was his intention, he did finally got the attention of soft core UofL fans.  His reference to the devotion of Big Blue Nation fans will have a lasting impact.

Equally important, he may have finally brought some reality to a community so devoted to basketball. The success or failure of the football program reflects more on a university than any other sport, specifically basketball. Take football lightly, and you will be branded a basketball school, and you will keep losing good football coaches indefinitely.

Strong expects greater loyalty from the late arrivals, those easily discouraged by cold or damp weather or noon kickoffs, those who wander aimlessly through the concourses, and those leave games early.  Strong, his coaches and players notice those things, as do all football people, and they are personally offended.

The marketing model of football games at UofL being primarily social events was outmoded and out of date several years ago. It is being replaced by one that recognizes that football is the heartbeat of collegiate athletics.