7,821 see Louisville-UCLA soccer opener

By Andrew Melnykovych

It was probably too much to expect the University of Louisville men’s soccer team to deliver a repeat of their last match with UCLA when the two soccer powers got together again Saturday night.

After all, last time – the 5-4 UofL win in last season’s NCAA quarterfinal – was likely the most electrifying soccer match ever played in Louisville – and with much more at stake.

In large part because of that game, Louisville arrived as a big-time soccer program last year. The question going into this season was whether they could sustain the momentum of last year’s College Cup final run, both on the field and in the stands.

The soccer Cards delivered an emphatic “YES” on both counts.

With UofL’s No. 1 national ranking on the line, they thoroughly dominated the second-ranked Bruins in every phase of the game, especially for most of the second half. UCLA is very good, but Louisville was much the better team. The final score, 2-0

But what made this game really special was the atmosphere. A record-shattering crowd – announced at 7,821 – arrived early, and the vast majority stayed until the final whistle, even though the outcome had not been in doubt for a while.

The turnout was all the more impressive because there was plenty else to do in Louisville tonight – Bats game, St. X football down the road at Papa John’s, Kentucky State Fair. That great turnout bodes well for building a solid fan base – it looks like many of those who jumped on the Cardinal soccer bandwagon last year are back, and have brought their friends along.

Tonight they were treated to pre-game fireworks, the Lady Birds, the Cardinal pep band, and a cracking good performance on the field. Of course, not every game this season will feature the first three elements, but it’s the fourth one that matters, and should keep the fans coming back.

What a great way to get it started!

Anybody want to be Kentucky?

John Calipari apparently believes it when he says things like the University of Kentucky is the center of the college basketball universe, that other schools want to be UK.

“Understand that: They want to be us. Not beat us. Be us. So they’re coming at you, trying to say, ‘You win against Kentucky, it shows that we’re them.’ So everybody we play is going to bring it and bring it at a high level.”

He reminds one of the squeaky-voiced braggart in the schoolyard, the effeminate one with the wealthy parents, having everything handed to him, buying his friends, kidding himself into thinking he accomplishes anything on his own, the other kids knowing better, but having to tolerate the spoiled rich kid.

Basketball is the reason Kentucky is not taken seriously in football. Why would anyone who follows Ohio State want to be Kentucky? Most teams would want to be in Ohio State’s shoes this weekend, with a chance to send the Wildcats and their fans home one more time.

If given a choice between being Duke and UK, most people would pick Duke. Not even a contest. You could add UCLA, North Carolina and dozens of other schools.

Few schools want the kind of reputation that comes with being Kentucky, with the many encounters the school has had with the NCAA. The odds of new chapters being added to that shady history are fairly significant, probably inevitable.

Wanting to be Kentucky? Calipari has been in Lexington too long already.

John Wooden At River’s Edge

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Apparently it’s just a matter of time.

John Wooden, the most successful coach in the history of college basketball, is gravely ill in Los Angeles. The 99-year-old legend is at Ronald Reagan Medical Center and has not eaten in the last couple of days.

Wooden’s UCLA teams inspired fear in opposing teams and fans during the Sixties and mid-Seventies. Under his watch, the UCLA won 10 NCAA championships, dominating the college basketball scene in a way that may never be equaled. He won 620 games at the school from 1948 to 1975.

University of Louisville fans have always felt a special bond with Wooden, of course, for the contributions of his protege, Denny Crum.
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Louisville Basketball Easily Most Profitable

The University of Louisville is once again No. 1 in terms of profitability among the nation’s college basketball programs, according to the latest compilation, this one by CNNMoney.com.

And it’s not even close.

U of L took in $25.4 million in revenue, compared to $19.8 million for the University of North Carolina in second place, and almost $10 million more than Ohio State in third place. More importantly, Louisville had $16.8 in profit, compared to UNC’s $12.3 million and Ohio State’s $11.4 million.

Other regional schools like Indiana and Kentucky were ranked seventh and 14th, respectively, IU reporting $8.2 million in profit and UK announcing $6.1 million.

Missing from the top 20 this year was Duke, which after years of reporting profits in the $4 million to $5 million range, reported a loss of more than $2 million. The school said that was due to a shift in revenue to the non-sport specific classification.

School Revenue Expenses Profit
Louisville

25,494,904

8,625,245

16,869,659

North Carolina

19,852,544

7,488,429

12,364,115

Ohio State

16,115,419

4,697,478

11,417,941

Arizona

17,524,360

6,132,352

11,392,008

Illinois

14,507,336

4,772,399

9,734,937

Syracuse

16,817,122

7,784,244

9,032,878

Indiana

15,173,264

6,946,942

8,226,322

Minnesota

12,956,390

5,113,345

7,843,045

Kansas

15,737,145

8,219,362

7,517,783

North Carolina State

10,914,295

3,747,426

7,166,869

Tennessee

12,576,715

5,464,911

7,111,804

Texas

14,770,278

7,891,661

6,878,617

Michigan State

15,592,500

9,031,373

6,561,127

Kentucky

14,773,034

8,615,726

6,157,308

Maryland

10,793,864

4,891,205

5,902,659

Dayton

9,091,521

3,401,333

5,690,188

Northwestern

9,328,062

3,720,715

5,607,347

Xavier

8,791,518

3,938,466

4,853,052

UCLA

11,775,932

6,996,960

4,778,972

UNLV

9,230,385

4,644,437

4,585,948

Source:  CNNMoney

Alcohol Sales at Louisville Games

This observer doesn’t drink at Louisville games, primarily because it seems every time I do the Cardinals wind up losing, the most memorable occasion being the overtime loss to UCLA in the 1975 Final Four. That’s reason enough to abstain, staying under control to keep things on the court or field in hand. Don’t mind if my neighbors partake — just don’t interfere with this one’s personal intensity.

In August 2005, the NCAA Executive Board suggested that member colleges and universities stop selling alcohol at athletic events, probably at the urging of NCAA Commissioner and former Indiana University President Myles Brand. One of Bobby Knight’s favorite people. Won’t happen at U of L any time soon, because the companies have been so good to the program.

“A lot of our facilities were built through sponsorship with certain companies, such as Budweiser through Freedom Hall,” said Tom Jurich, vice president of athletics. “We have to conform to what is in our contract with them. Alcohol sales are part of that.”

Speaking to the student newspaper, Jurich says U of L’s policy is consistent with that of other Big East members, including St. Johns, Villanova, Seton Hall, and Providence universities. “We consider everything that the NCAA asks us to look at,” he said, “but our conference has told us we are welcome to sell alcohol, and right now that is where we are at.”

The only time alcohol sales were ever a noticeable problem was at a football game against Tennessee in the old Fairgrounds Stadium in the mid-nineties. Must have been a record number of fights that night, several of the Vol fans apparently not able to manage their alcohol intake.

U of L owes companies like Brown-Forman, Budweiser and Makers Mark a huge debt of gratitude for all they’ve done for the program over many years. The continuance of the alcohol sales is an important way of saying thank you.

Drink responsibly.