Louisville Football: How About Some Reality

By Sonja Sykes

Any fan who doesn’t think Tom Jurich is painfully aware of the slip, slide and fall of University of Louisville football over the last two seasons is not giving him enough credit for realizing there is a problem.

The point is…what good would firing Kragthorpe right now accomplish? What recruits we do have coming in would bail faster than a Justin Marks fastball.

The old adage … give someone enough rope and they’ll eventually hang themselves comes to mind here. One more season of declining football and Tom will most likely make the proper move. But, if for some reason, we do improve…say a 7-5 or 8-4 season (I know…sounds impossible, but play along with me here) then it’s a scenario where he just might be headed in the right direction.

Bottom line is this: We gave Ron Cooper three years, it took Howard Schnellenberger three years to get things righted and Krags will get his third year. My guess is that if we go 3-9 or 4-8, Krags will resign. Even a 5-7 or 6-6 may get him out of here. But, don’t look for it to happen until the season is over.

In the meantime, cheer for the players. It’s not like they want to be .500 or worse.

Tom Jurich And The Louisville Football Promise

Season ticket sales for the upcoming University of Louisville football season are reportedly down 6,000 from last year. This is regrettable but not surprising, given all the grumbling surrounding the program.

A significant portion of the non-renewals has to include avid fans who want to send a message to Vice President of Athletics Tom Jurich expressing their displeasure about the disappointing descent of the program under Coach Steve Kragthorpe over the last two seasons.

The number also includes a large number of Johnny-come-lately types, those who jumped on the bandwagon during the years leading up to the historic Orange Bowl victory.

One suspects, however, that many from the above categories come from those who continually roam the concourses during games, those who show up late for game starts, and those who hit the exits early in spite of what is happening on the field.

And there are undoubtedly many individuals and families whose disposable incomes have been affected by a sour economy.

One suspects, however, that many from the above categories come from those who continually roam the concourses during games, those who show up late for game starts, and those who hit the exits early in spite of what is happening on the field.

On the other hand, the 27,000 ticket holders who will be at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium include people who know that U of L football will have its ups and downs. They may have serious doubts that Steve Kragthorpe is up to the job. However, they will be there for the program as they have been in the past, knowing their support is essential for future success.

They also are willing to tolerate the current coach, hoping Kragthorpe will defy the odds, hoping that he is a better manager of the game than he has demonstrated heretofore. They refuse to throw in the towel before a season has even begun.

They recognize that the long-term future of the program is defined in the steel framework of the expanding stadium. The construction is a guarantee that Tom Jurich will make the right decision at the right time to make good on his commitment to a much stronger future for the program.

Getting Corporate Fannies In The Seats

Never too early. In fact, now may be the ideal time to bring it up since the football season is just two months away.

There could well be more empty seats than normal this fall, or until University of Louisville football returns to its winning ways. But that doesn’t excuse the basis for frequent complaints from University of Louisville fans about great corporate seats sitting empty at football games.

Companies make big donations, then pay thousands more dollars for their prime season tickets. But too many tickets never get punched at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

Why not put the names of companies, their logos or brand names on the seats?

When they shell out the money, the companies say they are buying them for employees. So why do they go to waste? The reasons are as varied as the companies. The observer suspects, however, the real problem is that nobody bothers to distribute them. Either that or the tickets are entrusted to a University of Kentucky fan who can’t be bothered to pass on University of Louisville tickets.

The observer has a suggestion for Tom Jurich. Why not put the names of companies, their logos or brand names on their seats? That way the companies would get more of the public recognition they all want so much.

Even more importantly, fans would finally see which companies are following through on their commitments as “good corporate citizens involved in the community” –  or those that are merely paying lip service. Fans would recognize the companies for their support, or, in the case of the empty seats, ask them why the tickets aren’t used.

Companies pay big money for the tickets, and most don’t tolerate waste. A little exposure might motivate the people responsible for distributing the tickets, getting them off their butts, putting the tickets where they belong, in the hands of employees.

Someone Needs To Say It, So Sonja Does

By Sonja Sykes

One sure sign of summer these days is when the various message boards start taking to task Coach Steve Kragthorpe, Athletic Director Tom Jurich and the University of Louisville football program for shortcomings over the last two seasons.

The Whiner
Whiny Face

Unfortunately, on at least one local forum, the Kragthorpe haters and Jurich jabbers are given free rein. A disproportionate and largely redundant number of posters seem unable to recognize or have no regard of the effect of constant criticism on coaches, players or recruits … or the impact of unfettered negativism on the future of the program.

All this before any fireworks have been launched, or the “dog days” have arrived.  And, from all indications, it’s only going to intensify.  As if we can do anything about it.

In the words of Lily von Schtupp in Blazing Saddles: “I’m tired.” Tired of all this meaningless pro/anti Kragthorpe jabber.

Cry about it, shout about it, laugh about it or try and doubt it:  Fans don’t have much say about who coaches the college kids down off Floyd Street. This isn’t American Idol or Dancing With The Stars. I’m tired of the pouting, cheap shots and rose-colored glasses. I’m tired of the insults that follow after the remarks are made.

What it is is college athletics. Sure, you can cancel your seats, boycott this or that or whine like a stuck pig in the barn gate door but you’re not going to change a thing.  What you do accomplish is to make an impression on young athletes.

Tommy Fullback probably doesn’t care what Joe D in Somerset thinks about his potential coach. But if 50 Joe D’s are piling on,  you can bet your last dollar that Tommy Fullback is forming an opinion. Shannon, over at Cardinal Dominance, points this out in his in-depth interview with future Card Mike Privott.

I’ve had players come up to me and shyly correct me on information. The kids know how to “Google” their name and their school. Think twice before you berate some young man or women (or coach) you’ve never met.

Love the players, love the game.  Let’s act like we’ve been there before. The fuel and energy you use by fanning the Cardinal football flames only gives the neighbors to the east more to laugh, gloat and joke about.  Whether the record is 8-4 or 4-8, give the players the admiration and respect they deserve. They made a choice and it was us.

For The Future Of Louisville Football

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.