Fans who attend the spring football scrimmage will be rewarded with an up-close look at Tom Jurich’s long-term commitment to the success of the program as the expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium moves forward.
The naysayers who said it would never happen, the defeatists who have thrown up their hands after two losing seasons, and those not planning to renew their season tickets because the current coach was not fired — they’re shortsighted, making hasty decisions, wrong about the direction of the program.
The expansion is about the long term future, a future to which Jurich is totally committed, knowing that a part of his lasting legacy at the University of Louisville is inextricably tied to reestablishing U of L football as a nationally competitive program.
That’s why he’s giving Steve Kragthorpe at least one more season to show real progress. Hell, he may even give Kragthorpe more time if he really meant it when he put the program in a rebuild mode and said he hoped we could make it through the next two seasons.
Jurich has expressed confidence that Kragthorpe will get it done eventually, knowing full well that attendance could take a big hit this season if things keep going south. The fickle nature of fans is such that they will fall all over themselves getting back on the bandwagon if Kragthorpe miraculously manages to turn things around. The same thing would occur if the miracle required still another year.
Louisville needs to quit being a stepping stone for young coaches using the football program primarily to advance their own careers while screwing Louisville fans.
Sorry to disappoint those who want Jurich fired if Kragthorpe fails to get the job done. Not going to happen, according to two members of the U of L Athletic Association this observer has known for years. Jurich will make the call on Kragthorpe if and when it becomes necessary. If that time comes, expect Jurich to have learned from any mistakes.
When the first phase of the expansion is complete, seating capacity will have expanded to 55,000 seats, just in time for at least two sellouts against West Virginia and Kentucky during the 2010 season. The additional capacity will make it somewhat easier to schedule other major opponents at home. Jurich will get it done in spite of significant hurdles.
Despite winning two national championships in basketball, it was not unusual to hear Louisville referred to as a mid-major program that long ago. Jurich recognizes the value of a successful football program in building national respect. U of L is still benefiting from the BCS Orange Bowl win in terms of perception. When was the last time you heard someone refer to Louisville as a mid-major program? Not in the last two years, I’ll bet,
Many good years for Louisville football are ahead. But patience, perseverance, loyalty will be required, along with a few more humbling experiences on the field before getting there. But with the expansion project, Jurich is laying the foundation for prolonged, long-term success.