Times that try men’s souls

The last thing anyone expected in March was an out-of-control virus that would be wreaking havoc on our lives and livelihoods. Instead of University of Louisville basketball, one is keeping with updates on infections and deaths and the latest restrictions on individual movement.

Charlie Springer during happier times at Jim Patterson Stadium (Barbara Springer photo).

The numbers keep going up and up, with no relief in sight. Doubling every other day it seems. The only positive coming from China, which claims the new cases are slowing down. Problem is the chicoms have little credibility, having tried to conceal the danger until it was wildly out of control.

So one waits. Waits for what? No solutions coming soon. One is left to wonder about the chances of contracting the virus. To wonder if one may have already been infected. To see when local testing will be available. To wonder when one will be able to see family, friends and loved ones again without threatening them or ourselves.

Someone at the Centers for Disease Control stated that if you’re not overacting to the threat, you’re probably not preparing enough. So one washes one’s hands several times a day, wears gloves on trips to Kroger or to Walgreen’s or any other shopping trips. Spraying bleach on door knobs, sinks, other surfaces, hoping it’s just in time, not too late.

Each day pretty much the same. No NCAA basketball tournament action to distract from the daily doom and gloom. The simulations on YouTube of computerized games just a depressing reminder of what we’re really missing. No quick trips out to Jim Patterson Stadium to see a UofL baseball team that ranked No. 1 in most of the pre-season polls. Just left to anticipate someday going out to Cardinal Stadium or down to the KFC Yum! Center.

No going to church services on Sunday, doing high fives with fellow UofL fans, no taunting of people who follow Kentucky. No ability to worship or pray collectively. Avoiding other religious services, including funerals … or visitation services for that matter.

Waiting for grandson Koby, a college junior, to arrive from Florida, having to leave his dormitory at Florida Gulf Coast University and his job with Sprint.  The school and the company each forced to take actions to protect the individuals, the people they come into contact with, along with the institution and the business.

Hoping son Steve and his family four hours away in Murray are doing okay. Giving thanks that he has gotten over two bouts with the flu. Regretting not being able to make the trip, with all the differences in ages and the warnings about small and large group gatherings.

Thankful for a spouse who is good at dealing with a wide variety of different challenges, willing to make sacrifices and puts family first. Her being a great cook and a rabid UofL fan are qualities that make her even more loved and indispensable.

Challenging times, one never knows what to expect next. Some day this particular challenge will be another one of those events that altered the course of humanity. Hopefully, it will make us stronger and better prepared for what is coming our way.

For now, we have our hands full just getting through this one.

Vince Tyra weighs in on COVID-19 crisis

Vince Tyra encourages fans to support each other during the pandemic (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Dear Friends,

This last week has been a difficult time for us all. I wanted to reach out to you directly as we navigate this unprecedented time for our country as much as for Louisville Athletics, and truly thank you for your continued passion and support of the Louisville Cardinals.

As you know, due to the ever-evolving developments of COVID-19, the University of Louisville, in conjunction with the Atlantic Coast Conference and the NCAA, has suspended all athletic related activities including all competition, formal and organized practice, recruiting and participation in NCAA championships until further notice.

While this is an extremely tough time for the Louisville Athletics community, the health and safety of our student-athletes, fans, and staff is of the utmost importance.  Plans could be altered at any time as more information becomes available in this very fluid and unprecedented matter. We are committed to open and continued communication with you, our biggest supporters.

As we continue to gather information, one thing that we do know is that we cannot do this ourselves. Our student-athletes, coaches and leadership need your support now, more than ever. If you need anything at all, please feel free to reach out to your Cardinal Athletic Fund (CAF) representative directly or contact the main line at CAF@louisville.edu.

We are in this business because we are driven to see results. We are competitors at heart, but right now that’s impossible to do. Our focus right now needs to be on how we can console, motivate, and guide those around us – and to use this time to lay the critical groundwork for our next, best chapter. I am so proud of the student-athletes, coaches, staff and fans that call themselves Louisville Cardinals.

Our program is no stranger to adversity and rising to the next challenge is part of the Cardinals’ DNA. We will get through this together, and I believe our best days are ahead of us. This is what drives us every day, and you are the embodiment of that spirit.

Until we meet again, wear your red with pride, communicate your passion for our program, and know we send the very best wishes for you and your family. Remember, in times of uncertainty, we rise as one.

                                                                                                                      Vince Tyra
                                                        University of Louisville Athletic Director

Merry Christmas, bring on the holidays for UofL fans

Reflecting the spirit of the season at a UofL basketball game with his elf cap is Sutton Wyatt, the 6-year-old son of Jason and Lori Wyatt. The family has had season tickets for 10 seasons (Photos by Mike DeZarn).

Shopping done, the gifts are wrapped, so we are switching into Christmas mode, fully immersing ourselves in the holiday season.

Every sport at the University of Louisville with an attraction all its own, the fans forever faithful in the pursuit of wins with each new challenge. UofL providing dreams for youngsters old and young, diversions from the rigors, and all the other ups and downs of everyday life.

All those new faces in key positions — Neeli Bendapudi, Vince Tyra, Chris Mack, Scott Satterfield, Dani Busboom Kelly, and John Michael Hayden — exceeding expectations. Dan McDonnell and Jeff Walz maintaining unprecedented success, still aiming higher.

Much to be thankful for, knowing the challenges have made us stronger, the issues will be resolved and the university has so much more to achieve. 

Thanks for being Louisville fans. The Observer appreciates your support of Card Game.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

UK grad leads UofL legal team in settlement with Pitino

No one thought it would end like this, the long-time relationship between Rick Pitino and the University of Louisville. The sides agreeing to settle a two-year-old lawsuit brought against the school by the former head basketball coach.

Barbara Edelman, who earned her law degree at the UK College of Law, led the University of Louisville legal team in negotiations with Rick Pitino.

Ironically there was a University of Kentucky connection involved in the case, with UofL’s legal team led by Barbara Edelman. She’s a graduate of the UK College of Law and a partner at the Lexington office of the Dinsmore & Shohl law firm.

The terms were agreed to after an intense nine hours of negotiations in a Louisville court room last week.

Over the course of her career, Edelman has appeared in all of the federal district courts in, numerous circuit courts throughout the state and other jurisdictions. She has tried more than 50 jury trials in state and federal courts and handled more than 30 appeals to the Kentucky Court of Appeals, Kentucky Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.

Steve Pence, Pitino’s attorney, also happens to be a graduate of the UK College of Law. He was served as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Kentucky.

A collective sigh of relief coming from many Louisville fans, thankful that Pitino has ended his pursuit of approximately $40 million in contractual obligations. The former coach was never going to get the full amount but millions seemed almost certain.

Pitino decided, however, not to pursue any further action against the school. The best decision he could have made, both for his own reputation and for the sake of the university. Neither party would have benefitted from the inevitable rehashing of UofL controversies in the local and national media.

One would like to believe that Pitino gave up the lawsuit because of all the good times he enjoyed at UofL, all the people who supported him through the good and the bad. He had considerable accomplishments at the school, compiling a 559-416 won-lost record, coaching Louisville to three Final Fours and a national championship.

But there were all those down times as well, including the sex and extortion scandal involving Karen Sypher, the stripper parties with Katina Powell and her flock, and the accusations from the FBI about alleged Adidas involvement in the recruiting process. Pitino may enjoy being the center of attention but no way did he want to rehash all those times day after day in a local courtroom.

Barbara Edelman’s legal team also included Gramn Morgan, a UofL undergrad who earned his law degree in California, and Donna Perry, who heads the Louisville office of Dinsmore & Shohl and earned her degree from the UofL Brandeis School of Law.

That legal team may have saved the UofL tens of millions of dollars while sparing UofL fans another barrage of ugly reminders of Pitino’s darkest days in Louisville.

Fear for Lamar Jackson’s running game catching up with him

The real fun of watching Lamar Jackson play football comes when he takes off running, finding that crease in the offensive line, leaving defenders reaching for open air.  He brings a new dimension to the concept of a running game.

So fast, so elusive, a joy to watch.

There are numerous NFL football observers, however, expressing concern that Jackson may be running the ball too often.  In 16 games last season, he ran the ball a record 147 times for 695 yards and five rushing touchdowns. The pundits that provide the NFL betting tips would not be shocked if he runs the ball at an even higher clip this season. Basically, he’s one of the best runners in the NFL.

In contrast, Green Bay Packer quarterback Aaron Rodgers ran the ball only 43 times during the 2018 season. Following a recent exhibition game,  Rodgers expressed concern about Jackson’s proclivity for running the ball, stating, ““I love watching you play, man. That was spectacular. Have a great season. Slide a little bit.”

That’s what he does best, that’s why the fans buy tickets, why TV ratings for the Baltimore Ravens are soaring, and it’s what the opposition dreads.

Lamar Jackson ran for 50 touchdowns and passed for 69 more at the University of Louisville (Cindy Rice Shelton photo).

Jackson completely rewrote the record books at the University of Louisville. In three seasons, he ran for 4,132 yards and 50 touchdowns. Not a shrinking violet as a passer either, compiling 3,660 yards and 69 more touchdowns. Did it with notoriously weak offensive line units during his last two seasons, disguising numerous team deficiencies at UofL.

Count Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti is among the nervous , “Lamar is not going to be running 20 times a game,” he says. “That’s not what this offense is about.” Head Coach John Harbaugh doesn’t disagree, but, “It’s not like he’s trying to run, but sometimes … What are you going to do? You can’t hold him back forever. He looked good on the play. He looked good on a lot of plays.”

Jackson is aware of the concerns, knowing that injuries are an integral part of the game. The more involved a player is, the greater the possibility. But he’s going to enjoy the game, taking advantage of his God-given abilities, wanting to make the Ravens a title contender.

“I can’t talk about it,” Jackson said recently. “Each and every day we’re looking better and better in what we’re doing, whether … running the ball with our backs, or the pass game, it’s all looking incredible right now.”

All the talk about all the running game may be typical NFL bluster. Jackson’s running abilities make him dangerous, giving Baltimore an unpredictable offense. His ability to make the most of a collapsing play makes Jackson one of the most challenging to contain and among the entertaining runners ever.