Big Price Tag For Louisville Football Change

Tom Jurich has his work cut out for him. He is, in fact, facing one of the toughest challenges of his career as he charts the future course of University of Louisville football.

This assumes, of course, that he is contemplating a coaching search to replace Steve Kragthorpe.

Not a simple task, considering the current coach’s contract runs through the 2012 season. The university would have to fork over $4.5 million to Kragthorpe if he were to be fired for any reason other than misconduct.  At the same time, Jurich needs to snare a big name coach who can return high levels of excitement to program, enough to fill the expanded stadium in 2010.

That would require significantly more money than what Kragthorpe was paid and what he would get if he were to ride off into the sunset.  The observer’s conservative estimate is that the total transfer of power would require a minimum outlay of $10 million and $15 million over a half dozen years.

That’s really going to test the commitment of the movers and shakers to big time college football in Louisville. Many have already gone to the well for the stadium expansion and again for the downtown basketball arena (for which fans still await the winner of the naming rights lottery).

Jurich may be finding that to be a major challenge, according to at least one report, Even the deep pockets are feeling the economic difficulties these days and some of them may be wondering when they will get a return on all the money they’re already sinking into U of L.

These folks didn’t make money by giving more away than they take in, you know.

Don’t expect any help from Kragthorpe. His contract states that he would owe the university two million dollars if he quit before June 30, 2012, payable within 21 days of his final day of employment.

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Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

16 thoughts on “Big Price Tag For Louisville Football Change

  • November 11, 2009 at 2:18 am

    His father Dave Kragthorpe was the head football coach of Oregon State 1985-1990.
    To say the least that was 5 years too many.
    The question I have …
    Is the poor coaching a genetic predisposition or
    learned through environmental factors?
    Nature vs. Nurture. ??? hhmm

  • November 11, 2009 at 2:26 am

    The fans could argue that Steve Kragthorpe’s coaching is misconduct? Do you think Jurich would buy that?

    • November 11, 2009 at 4:56 pm

      Misconduct, misguided, misled & mistake!
      He has them all! Right on Lori!!

  • November 11, 2009 at 6:01 am

    Imagine the fan base reaction if Jurich decides to keep Kragthorpe for two more football seasons. Or, I should say, lack of fan base…because Louisville would be drawing WKU type numbers in a 55,000 seat stadium if the coach is retained for two more football seasons.

    10-15 million dollars. Seems like a lot of money to you, me…the average Joe on the street putting in their 40 hrs. a week.

    But, in the world of sports these days, it is chump change. The question here is complex. Doesthe University of Louisville allow the football program to continue to slide, reach levels below that of Arkansas State or (shudder) Indiana State by keeping the Krags? Or, does UofL and several well-heeled athletic contributors (you know the names that would be solicited) go in a new direction?

    We know the answer to this one. The money will be found, it will be paid and Louisville football will enter a new era in…well, soon. A Kragthorpe past Thanksgiving is a remote possibility. The move will be made by Jurich, not because of fan pressure, not because of national media scrutiny…but because of failure to meet the high standards expected by Jurich in this part of his athletic program.

    If not, I welcome you all out to watch Women’s BB with me. No lack of effort, success and results here.

  • November 11, 2009 at 7:00 am

    Steve Kragthorpe is a million dollar coach. Angel McCoughtry made around $40,000 her first year in the WNBA. Which one do you think had more of an impact on Cardinal athletics last year?

    • November 13, 2009 at 2:44 pm

      You mean positive impact, right? Because Koach certainly has had a huge impact on the program.

  • November 11, 2009 at 7:12 am

    The buy out will be about 50% when it is settled in or out of court, and may be paid out over yrs.

    Part of the initial coaches salary may be deferred.

    The art of negotiating and finance will get this done….

  • November 11, 2009 at 8:49 am

    Good to know all we need to do is keep going back to the well or pushing ATM buttons, as some people seem to suggest. May be a bit more complicated than that this time around. I hope you’re right, Frank.

  • November 11, 2009 at 9:18 am

    Charlie–instead of thinking “debt” (i.e., ATM’s),
    think “investment”

    The current “investment” (Kragthorpe) is yielding an extremely low return on investment–and is promising to yield even less in the future. That’s potentially millions in lost revenue for U of L over just a few yrs.

    I’d also say that Schnatter is not pleased with his ROI on the investment made in his naming rights. There may be incentive for him to up his ante, to insure a proper ROI for his company’s mkting.

    The current investment will be negotiated / settled and restructured for cash flow purposes and a new investment will be made…

  • November 11, 2009 at 9:37 am

    Frank,your contributions on this issue are enlightening and greatly valued.

  • November 11, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Remember how Jurich talked about Kragthorpe’s coaching pedigree? Kragthorpe’s dad had an overall record of 41-69-2. In six years at Oregon State he was 17-48-2. Prediction. If Louisville wins 2 out of the last 3 (entirely possible), Kragthorpe returns for year 4.

    • November 11, 2009 at 4:53 pm

      We will not see another win this season. The only win would be CK gone! His play calling will see to that.

  • November 11, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    You knocked that one about 350 down the middle of the fairway, Frank.

    More people in the seats mean more Papa John’s Pizza purchased at the game. A better team means more people watch the away games on TV at home and call out for the Papa John’s Game Day special.

    Bowl games trips = more money for the University.

    This three year experiment hasn’t turned out very well. Let’s go back to the lab and come up with a different football formula.

    I watched Buffalo play on TV last night. That stadium was empty. I never want to see Papa John’s that empty.
    Fair weather fans or not…the more success the team has, the more people will show up for the games.

  • November 11, 2009 at 6:27 pm

    It’s done.

  • November 12, 2009 at 12:56 am

    you know, I just watched a video on youtube of uk coming to louisville in 2006. I watched our high flying offense. I watch brohm move the ball, and I watched bush run people over. I watched our defense get stops on 3rd and short, and I saw us just utterly destroy uk. After seeing that, I have to say, pay kragthorpe what it takes, and get him out. I’m sick of losing to kentucky more than anything else. just get rid of him and get something good going.

  • November 12, 2009 at 1:00 pm

    What choice does TJ have? K is incompetent and defrauded the university; there is plenty of evidence (especially in his ability to administer a staff). TJ must unbuckle on this issue. Of course we (the fans) will help. I would fire him for cause and settle in court.

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