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.

Jurich Promises McCoughtry Statue

Angel McCoughtry has already left her mark on the University of Louisville women’s basketball record books but Tom Jurich apparently wants a more visible reminder of McCoughtry around after she graduates,  a concrete reminder of what she has done for the women’s program.

Jurich recently told Sports Illustrated that he is committed to erecting a statue of McCoughtry to honor the greatest female player in Louisville’s history, a player who has made women’s basketball matter in an area that has worshiped basketball for decades.

“I’ve said it a million times in speeches, it’s going up,” Jurich said. “I’m not sure where, but it’s going up. She’s been a real pioneer for our program and what we’re trying to accomplish.”

McCoughtry almost blushes when asked about the statue. It’s a little much. Though if Jurich must do it, she has just one request.

“I have to look pretty,” she says, trying stifle a laugh.

While McCoughtry doesn’t care what pose is chosen to preserve her for posterity, coach Jeff Walz has a suggestion.

“It’s got to show her passion,” he said. “That’s the thing that really sets her apart. She’s all about winning and she’s all about doing whatever it takes to make herself and her teammates better.”

If Jurich is so determined to get it done, the only question is where the statue would be erected. That should be easy. Not that equality is an issue, but why not just go ahead and do one of Darrell Griffith as well. Place them at the entrance of the new U of L downtown basketball arena, wearing jerseys No. 35 and No. 35, respectively, honoring both programs’ most valuable players at their new home.

Props For Tom Jurich

Tom Jurich, vice president of athletics at the University of Louisville, recently received recognition for his contributions to women’s athletics during the Lady Cards-Rutgers basketball game. Under his leadership, the women’s programs have enjoyed unprecedented growth while reaping tremendous dividends in terms of student life and respect for the university.

Of course, Jurich’s contributions extend far beyond women’s athletics. His efforts have led to advancements in U of L sports that his predecessors and the university’s longtime fans would have considered pipedreams less than a couple of decades ago.

Here’s the video of the ceremony shown during the Lady Cards-Rutgers basketball in January:

Thanks to Julie Hermann for the video.

Time To Reign In The Grousing

By Charlie Springer

Lots of people wanting to prolong the drama about the University of Louisville football coaching staff these days. Some seem to think that if they make enough noise Tom Jurich is going to change his mind about giving Steve Kragthorpe another year.

Yeah, like that’s really going happen. Reign it in a bit, folks, get behind the program. If it doesn’t work out, a new coach will arrive just in time for an expanded stadium.

People have always grumbled about losing. They just didn’t have Internet message boards to commiserate and commiserate, rehash and rehash the same old arguments, over and over and over again. The negativism is bound to wear thin sooner or later, leaving only the most  obnoxious to communicate, each attempting to be more nastier than the next.

Everybody else willl move on.

Unfortunately that’s down the road a bit. The sad thing about it is that all the bitching is bound to have a negative impact on recruiting.

This observer wants Kragthorpe to be successful. Not expecting any major turn around next season, but anticipating some signs of progress. If it’s not to be, one will look forward to supporting the next coaching regime.

*     *    *

Found this bit on sanity on Brian Bennett’s Big East blog:

Kevin Fritz from Louisville writes: With Latarrius Thomas and Matt Simms leaving Louisville, plus the growing turnover of coaches exiting and possibly being demoted, isn’t it obvious that Steve Kragthorpe has lost control of this program and needs to gracefully exit now? That way a new coach can be brought in and salvage what could be one of the school’s worst recruiting classes in recent memory.

Brian Bennett: That would be a wild overreaction. Nobody likes to lose players, but Matt Simms probably wasn’t going to start anyway, and Thomas has been plagued by injuries. The program will survive their defections.

And a little more on Tom Heiser’s Courier-Journal fan blog:

Simms’ big shot to make a name for himself next year, or even insinuate himself into a quarterback controversy this past season, went about as smoothly as his Tin Man delivery … With the addition of N.C. State transfer Justin Burke (the presumed heir apparant), JUCO standout Adam Froman, plus holdovers Tyler Wolfe and Zach Stoudt, the Cards are already employing the “kitchen sink” strategy at reviving the offense. One marginal, discipline-deficient signal caller off the roster is no great tragedy.

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A Christmas Wish List

A letter to Santa Claus and a Christmas wish list for University of Louisville atheltics

By Sonja Sykes

Dear Santa Claus,

I hope you’ve noticed I’ve been a really good girl this year (Okay, forget the Pittsburgh trip and the infield on Oaks Day) and I’d like for you to grant some wishes for me and my buddies down at the University of Louisville. I’ll leave a big plate of white macadamia nut cookies and egg nog under the tree, and something to “spike” it up a bit, if you want. Say “Hi” to Mrs. Claus and the reindeer, and the cute elves for me, and stay warm Christmas Eve!

For the UofL football team: A winning season and a bowl trip next season. An injury-free season for Vic, Doug, Trent and Scott and maybe a few moments of peace and quiet for Mr. Kragthorpe.

For the UofL men’s basketball team: A Big East title (regular season and conference) and a trip to the NCAA Final Four. Maybe a national title, too? Maybe tickets for me and friends to attend? Give T-Will lots of chances to dunk, Earl a ton of “Mississippi-like” games, Samardo the freshman of the Year award and give me two guards that will get it done.

For the Lady Cards basketball team: A Player of the Year award for Angel McCoughtry, a Big East title, a trip to the NCAA Final Four and maybe they could win it all, too? Tickets for that, too…if you will.  Give Tise a healthy knee, the frosh a great first year, and Jeff Walz Coach of the year. See you at Pack The House?

For the UofL baseball team: Another trip to the Omaha World Series, a batting title for Chris Dominguez, full stands for every home game and strong pitching and great hitting!

For the men’s soccer team: Make Ken Lolla’s prediction of an NCAA title come true.

For the women’s field hockey team: A ton of wins and titles, too. For Pam Bustin, the best record ever and lots of good freshmen to continue the success she’s had. I’d ask for just one more year of eligibility for me, but
I’d need those twenty-year-old legs and stamina again, if that were possible.

For Leonard Yelin and his volleyball team: Lots of tall girls who can spike, dig, serve and block.  Maybe an NCAA Championship game or two or three, and a full arena for each home game.

For Tom Jurich: Unprecdented success for all his teams, more donors and funding and less whiners and gripers. Successful completion of the football stadium expansion and basketball arena would be nice, too.  For his staff and coaches, raises across the board!

I know I’m asking for a lot here, Mr. Claus but I believe in the magic of Christmas and that if you wish upon a star all your dreams can come true. I hope I’m on your “nice” list, and you can deliver all the things on my list. If not, I won’t complain. Just do everything you can, and keep wearing that Cardinal Red.

PS: Could you leave switches in all UK fans stockings?  They’ve been awfully naughty to UofL fans this year. Honest!  Okay, I guess they should get a few gifts; it is Christmas, after all. Maybe some autographed Rick Pitino pictures? …Tee hee!

Your pal,
Sonja