Scott Satterfield brings expectations for Louisville football

A new face with a refreshing outlook.

There’s a new man in the coach’s office at the Schnellenberger football complex today, an individual who just a couple of weeks ago couldn’t have imagined being there. But there he is sorting through the roster, figuring out who’s going, who’s on the fence and who’s staying with just two weeks before national signing day.

Scott Satterfield has taken on a difficult challenge, that of reversing the fortunes of the University of Louisville football team. A program that tumbled over the cliff this past season, losing its last nine games while allowing more than 50 points on six different occasions. Turning that around could be seen as a daunting task for many coaches.

Athletic Director Vince Tyra, undaunted by a turndown by former UofL great Jeff Brohm, said he was interested in Satterfield from the beginning, fascinated with how Appalachian State had dominated the Sun Belt Conference. Narrow overtime losses to Tennessee and Penn State also intrigued him.

“We wanted a winner, and I wanted someone to want us as badly as we wanted him,” said Tyra. “There was competition for Scott in this process, and I’m glad we were able to stay in front of the competition. He met all of our criteria and expectations. We looked at a number of people during the search process and kept coming back to Scott.”

Clearly Satterfield is able to see beyond the current difficulties, some seeming self-inflicted by the previous head coach, knowing what is possible at UofL.  “I want to compete for national championships one day. That’s what we’re going to be gunning for,” he said during introductory ceremonies.

“To be able to come and coach at this kind of a university to compete for championships, I can’t turn that down at this point in my career. This is what we’ve been shooting for.”

Welcome to Louisville, Scott Satterfield.

Jeff Brohm got what he wanted from Purdue and Louisville

Now that the Jeff Brohm dalliance has finally fizzled, the University of Louisville can consider some serious candidates. Brohm was never coming home, using UofL as a bargaining chip to further solidify his position at Purdue University.

No good vibes during the entire process, not from a family or from the University in which each party had invested so much. Little to no public communications from any of the Brohms, just enough winks and nods with selective media contacts to advance Jeff’s interests, keep playing his game.

While some around him indicated that he had considerable interest in Louisville, there was no indication from Brohm himself. Just the usual mumbo-jumbo coachspeak about being where he wanted to be. Taking his time, keeping everybody waiting, keeping his players, keeping Louisville fans guessing. 

No indications from friends and family members in Louisville that he was excited about being considered, possibly returning to his alma mater. No happy memories  about program where he, his dad and a brother had quarterbacked, another brother had been a wide receiver. 

Just silence. The kind of silence with an ominous feel to it all along.  Nothingness. Hurry up and wait. For what?

Brohm pretty much walked by the pond, saw us drowning, and took a seat at the picnic table ...

No one having a clue about Brohm was going to do. Not inspiring confidence, just enough to keep Louisville fans waiting and hoping, allowing the suspense to build to a fever pitch. Brohm has matured, gone on to other interests, and is no longer tuned into Louisville his hometown, or UofL 

No expressions of disappointment from Brohm about what had happened to Louisville football over the last year under Bobby Petrino’s direction. No obvious interest in rescuing the UofL program, or concern about what the University had been through over the past three years. The hometown boy had a set of priorities, but it’s clear now did not match up with Louisville’s.

As a poster on Louisville message board noted, “This program is at one of the lowest points we’ve seen and people viewed Brohm as the guy to take us to the next level, it was storybook. Instead Brohm pretty much walked by the pond, saw us drowning, and took a seat at the picnic table to watch.”

Brohm was focused of taking full advantage of the uncertainty in West Lafayette to nail down further concessions from Purdue. A big paycheck got much, much bigger with PU matching Louisville dollar for dollar. In the end, he is said to have improved his salary from a reported $3.8 million to an estimated $6 million annually.

Athletic Director Vince Tyra indicated Thursday morning that he never felt during the give and take (mostly give) with Brohm that the former Louisville quarterback was excited as Tyra was about the UofL job. Tyra saying it was clear that Brohm’s heart and mind were consumed with fulfilling his commitment to Purdue.

Tyra had no choice but to go after Brohm, make the best possible offer, let Brohm know he was badly needed, and wait for Brohm to quit stalling. Now Tyra is free to pursue someone who wants to be at UofL, “someone with the same energy and excitement going to work every day as myself, Chris Mack, Dan McDonnell and other UofL coaches.” Good for Vince, let our people go.

Brohm has made his choice, and Louisville respects that choice and wishes him well. Some have suggested that the timing was not right, and that UofL and Brohm could still get together some day. Don’t count on it, not when Jeff Brohm turned a cold shoulder to UofL football during a time of its greatest need.  Thanks but no thanks to football coaches who have little regard for UofL’s interests, now and in the future.

Vince Tyra off to good start, but Louisville football long term project

The view from the North end zone expansion as quarterback Malik Cunningham scores Louisville’s only touchdown against North Carolina State.

A busy, challenging day for Vince Tyra, attempting to infuse some positivity and energy into the University of Louisville football program. Six days after having had to fire the former head coach. A new beginning, a new start, time to start digging UofL football out of the deep hole in which it is mired.

Up early in the morning, Tyra is greeting early arrivals in the Green Lot, passing out toboggans and UofL shirts to the faithful. Then he joins fans in the Card March, welcoming the players descending the steps from Denny Crum Way, shaking hands or embracing many of the Louisville football players and coaches. He spends the rest of the afternoon walking the Cardinals’ sideline, doing everything he can to encourage players.

Vince Tyra hooks up with tailgaters at Harry’s Hangout in the Green Lot before the game, passing out UofL shirts and toboggans. From left are Michelle Mitchell, Barbara Springer, Paula Derringer, Genny Staley Davis and Candy Bickel Cook.

One had to be impressed by Tyra’s energy. If sincerity and commitment from the Athletic Director were the primary ingredients needed for success, UofL football would have been on its way. If getting rid of the cause of major bad vibes counted, Tyra had made strides. If preventing many more fans from jumping ship two games before the end of the season, he had done just that.

The crowd stretched from here to there during Card March.

Reinvigorating Card March was an unquestioned success, with fans standing shoulder to shoulder from Denny Crum Way, extending to the north and south. The players were clearly impressed, not having seen anything like it during the first first five games. Official attendance was announced at 48, 265 despite some gaping holes at Cardinal Stadium. Didn’t matter, some good signs of UofL fans being engaged again.

Ominous start despite Tyra’s efforts. Three UofL starters — QB Puma Pass, wide receiver Devante Peete, and offensive lineman Michael Boykin — suspended before the game.  He already had  more than he could handle with all of the damage that had done to Louisville football over the past year.

UofL was at least competitive most of the first half, trailing by only 17-3 at the intermission. Any illusions of being competitive were shattered on the first offensive series of the second half.  Quarterback Malik Cunningham fumbled on his own 22 yard line, and North Carolina State would score two plays later.

That was the dagger, the inevitable adversity, the crushing blow. No doubt after that,  with NC State skating to a 52-10 romp, sealing a winless 0-8 conference mark for the Cardinals and their ninth loss in 11 games. No happy endings in sight this season. Vince Tyra is on the case, however, knowing that he had to get started as soon possible to resolve all the issues impeding the program.

Waiting not an option for Vince Tyra to stop Louisville football bleeding

Cindy Rice Shelton photo

Time to act. Quickly. Like right now.

Anyone watching the University of Louisville football team this season knew that something had gone terribly wrong. The Cardinals were giving up 56, 77, and 54 points in lopsided losses over the past three games. Ugly and getting uglier every week, with no prospect that anything was ever going to change.

The question of whether a coaching  change was needed was not if but when. Athletic Director Vince Tyra pulled the pin Sunday morning, feeling the need to immediately relieve Petrino of his duties. Petrino had suffered from the incompetence of his staff and the confidence of his players. He had worn out the welcome mat and exhausted the patience of the UofL administration and Cardinal fans. 

Bobby Petrino was rumored on his way to LSU when Koby Springer held this sign up at the 2004 Liberty Bowl in Memphis (ESPN photo).

He had to go, along with three of his family members on the staff, specifically two sons-in-law — linebackers coach Ryan Beard, defensive line coach L.D Scott — and his son quarterback coach Nick Petrino. Also gone is Andy Wagner, director of football operations, who was blocking UofL media left and right on Petrino’s Twitter feed..

The Cardinals (2-8, 0-7) rank last or near the bottom of the Atlantic Coast
Conference in about every statistical category. Associate Head Coach and safeties coach Lorenzo Ward, was named interim coach.

Petrino was in his second stint as Louisville’s head coach. He was (77-35)
overall and 36-26 during his second stint. He was 21-18 against the Atlantic
Coast Conference. But just 10-16 since a blowout loss to Houston in 2016.
Tyra met with the players Sunday morning, making one thing clear.

Lorenzo Ward overseeing the next two games, attempting to salvage anything positive from the 2018 season.

He wants to  change the atmosphere around Louisville football. Now. Not next season, not when a new coach comes in. Now.

Tyra wants coaches who deserve to be here. And players who want to be here. While things look bleak, he says these players can change that perception and go out winners, especially the seniors. He called on the senior class to take charge and help the young players gain momentum entering next season.

Tyra is also focusing on the 12 players that have petitioned to transfer after the season. He said he would work hard in trying to keep those players.and the deportees who are still in school, arguing it’s not out of question that they could return.

A lot of questions are to be answered before Louisville football can get back on track. Few believed that that was ever going to happen under Bobby Petrino. That was even more obvious to Vince Tyra, and it couldn’t happen soon enough for the fan base.

Mending wounds of old friends important to healing at UofL

One of the great things about the growth of the University of Louisville over the past couple of decades was that one always felt like he or she was an integral part of helping to transform UofL from a sleepy urban school to a dynamic and growing university.

It hurt and hurt deeply when some of the architects of that movement, the people in leadership roles, the people one got to know so well, the people one respected as friends and visionaries, were unceremoniously dismissed despite of what they had accomplished at UofL.

'They really didn’t care (about the loss in donations). UofL in the Atlantic Coast Conference became a crown jewel; they wanted it and they got it.'

Not surprising that some influential individuals in the community would want to exercise control over the University. Not surprising either that many supporters want to keep an arm’s length from people who forced  change, sometimes traumatic, upon the institution.

Dr. Bob Hughes, former chairman of the UofL Board of Trustees and the UofL Foundation, often indicated that the “wine and cheese crowd in the East End” was behind the upheaval at the school, wanting their own people in charge. 

“That was the goal from day one when they came on,” he told Card Game in a recent email. “It is only becoming more obvious with time; however, the delta on donations from the negativity it took to take control is about $50 million annually in donations to the foundation. They really didn’t care. UofL in the Atlantic Coast Conference became a crown jewel, they wanted it and they got it.”

With the Board of Trustees now under the thumb of J. David Grissom, a financial advisor to many of the community’s wealthiest families, Hughes’ theory definitely has credibility, even given all the charges of financial mismanagement and malfeasance that has been alleged. There’s no denying that UofL is now under much different oversight.

Not that that is necessarily a bad thing. Getting the community’s blue bloods invested in the future of the school would be a very positive development. Opening up new relationships and even deeper purses may be just what the University of Louisville needs to achieve higher levels of excellence. Some have criticized the school’s success in athletics, believing it may have impacted UofL’s lack of respect in academic circles. Some believed Tom Jurich’s fundraising success in athletics was crippling contributions to academics. Ironic coming from John Schnatter, who pledged $19 million in Papa John’s stock to UofL athletics.

The board most prominent recent hire, that of Neeli Bendapudi as the school’s 18th President, appears to have been a master stroke. She’s an individual with a successful track record of fundraising at the University of Kansas. But equally important, she seems to have the ability to communicate effectively with people from all walks of life. Plus, she has indicated that she very much wants UofL’s success in athletics to continue.

It’s going to take a while for Vince Tyra to  be loved by Louisville fans as much as Tom Jurich. But Tyra has been effective in retaining successful coaches and unquestionably wants UofL athletics to continue competing at the highest levels. Consider the school fortunate to have such an individual eager to step up when UofL needed him most.

Chris Mack, the new UofL basketball coach, is the exact opposite of Rick Pitino in many ways. But like Pitino he’s certainly not bashful when it comes to challenges while acknowledging the Louisville job and fan base as among the best in the nation.

Even some of the board’s most ardent critics have admitted that these hires were great choices, giving many of them second thoughts about the motivations of some board members. Could it be that the old money crowd actually knows what it’s doing, cares about the school and wants UofL to pursue even higher aspirations?

The people currently in control have had much to deal with over the past two years, making some difficult decisions. They’ve done it in a difficult environment, and their decisions have not always been popular.  Be they business or civic leaders, they are responsible to putting UofL back on the right path to respectability and prosperity.

Grissom recently decided the board, having successfully dealt with many of the school’s issues, would no longer have to meet monthly, going back to the old schedule of meeting quarterly. That’s another good sign, indicating that the Board of Trustees has high levels of trust in Neeli Bendapudi’s leadership abilities.

Now with so many of the problems in the past, the University can begin to restore many of the relationships that made the progress possible in the past two decades. Bendapudi may be the right person in the right place at the right time, with her unique ability to relate to the old money crowd and the everyday fan and supporter.

Time to look forward again, this time with a deeper base of support.