By Steve Springer

One of my unforgettable college basketball experiences transpired during the NCAA Tournament in Nashville in 2005. This was final year of membership in Conference USA, and the University of Louisville was eagerly anticipating its initiation into the Big East.

The Cards were to play the Georgia Tech in a second round match up that day.  Card fans started to fill up the arena, which was expected, considering how well we travel and the close proximity to Louisville (2.5 hours away). The second half of the Villanova/Florida game was underway and it was a tight one as Planet Red descended upon the arena. A small contingent of Nova fans were cheering on their team with the Let’s go NO-VA chant. Anything short of intimidating to their opponents, I’m sure.

[quote]

We were anxious for our team’s game to get going so we started firing each other up with the C-A-R-D-S cheer, which had to be impressive to the Gator fans and Villanova fans due to the sheer number of UofL supporters.  Maybe even a little rude, considering we weren’t even on the hardwood yet. That didn’t matter, and was kind of a message that, hey, we’re here and ready to be a factor.

The VU/UF contest was coming down to the wire. Nova fans were still rooting on their cats when their future Big East brethren decided to pick up the slack.  Almost at once, thousands of UofL fans started in with the LET’S go NO-VA. After a few rounds, the Villanova fan section cheered to us as if for a collective Thank you!  Nova went on to skin the Gators and we Card fans like to think we had something to do with that.

Fast forward to the UofL/GT game, which ended up being a rout with the Cards winning big. But that didn’t stop Villanova fans from returning the favor. At some point during the game, they broke out with the C-A-R-D-S chant, which was responded to with a collective cheer from the Cardinal faithful. One of those feel-good moments in college sports fandom. And for good measure, near the end of the second game, both sets of fans were harmoniously chanting BIG EAST!  (stomp, stomp) BIG EAST! (stomp, stomp)

Not often does a group of fans cheer for another school. But that’s the brotherhood of teams that is the Big East. Everybody cheers for each other out-of-conference, adamantly even. A victory against the SEC, ACC, whoever, is as good as a victory for your own team.

When we play each other, however …

 

Share this

By Steve Springer

Steve Springer is a lifelong University of Louisville fan and was Volvo's "Biggest Fan of the Big East" in 2011. He's a sportswriter for the Murray Ledger & Times, in addition to teaching physical education. He graduated from Eastern High School, earned a Master's degree from the University of Louisville and his BS degree at Murray State University. His Twitter handle is @racercard.

5 thoughts on “A memorable welcome to Big East basketball”
  1. I was at the game and was thrilled at the interaction between the schools. Some of the Villanova fans even came over to our section between games to welcome us to the conference. Yes, that was a good memory, right up there with the best of them. I drive a Volvo by the way.

    1. That was a great day, considering it was coupled with the blow out of Tech. Garcia was the man. What kind of Volvo do you drive?

  2. We had some similar interactions, though on a much smaller scale, with some WV fans after their victory over GA in 1/06. We had been to the Gator Bowl and left after the game to drive up to Atlanta for the night. We saw the end of the WV-GA game on the TV that night. The next morning we were congratulating the WV fans in the hotel lobby. In return, they were complementing us on a gritty effort from a second string QB (Cantwell), even though we lost.

    Driving up I-75 until we turned NW on I-24 that morning, we passed or were passed by WV fans. We had our Cards flag on the car on and honked, waved and gave thumbs up to each of them. We got lots of positive responses.

    By the way, I too drive a Volvo (’04 V70 2.5T). I bought it in 2009 after my ’01 V70 2.4T was totaled in a head-on (2 lane road, guy in a big ’79 Jeep Wagoneer drifted across the centerline, cars in front of him, no emergency lane on my right and a guard-rail, i.e., no place to go). He nicked left front ends with a small pick up in front of me…probably slowed him down to ~45 mph. I had started braking and was also doing ~45 mph. Both I and my elderly lady passenger were temporarily knocked out. She also suffered a compound fracture of her sternum. When I came to, the only pain I had was moderate at the base of my neck in my backbone…no hip/abdominal or chest pain. With pain medication, I got over it. The seatbelt pre-tensioners did a GREAT job! Though the airbags blew, we had no sense that our faces ever touched them. Though the Jeep driver lived, he had much more severe injuries. My passenger compartment (the cage) was totally unaffected except for a cracked windsheild. You’ll have to come up with a strong argument to ever convince me to drive anything other than a Volvo.

  3. Praise the Lord that you all were okay after such a horrific accident. It is really comforting to hear about the safety of the passengers in a Volvo after such an experience.

    I remember that ride home from Jacksonville, as well. We saw lots of blue and gold that day, too. Those are great feelings, seeing fellow fans like that and having good will towards each other. It doesn’t last long though! 🙂

  4. One thing I remember about Nashville is the vendors running out of UofL garb while they had stacks and stacks for the other schools remaining.

    Same thing happened another time in Birmingham.

    They just don’t realize how well we travel!

Comments are closed.