When a coach closes his practices to the public, he’s signaling that he’s concerned. Doesn’t have time to be nice.

Especially in Louisville with still another rebuilding year ahead for the football program. Charlie Strong admitted as much during the Governor’s Cup press conference. This will come as a surprise to some predicting seven or eight wins on the message boards. Rebuilding was what most fans thought U of L was going through en route to a 7-6 record and a bowl game last season.

If you add in the three Steve Kragthorpe seasons, U of L will have been rebuilding for five years when the 2012 season rolls around.

But there’s a difference this time around. With Charlie Strong’s continued success in recruiting, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic that rebuilding will actually amount to something. Sooner rather than later.

Interesting that Murray State is the opening game opponent. MSU is reportedly much better than the 2007 team that ran Kragthorpe’s defense ragged during his first game, even though U of L won 71-10. Still hard to believe that score for fans at that game. Things just didn’t feel right, right from the start with Murray scoring early and threatening often.

This season MSU brings in a more talented and experienced team, expected to finish second in the Ohio Valley Conference.  U of L, which had only 37 players in spring practice, has lots of raw talent but limited experience at key positions. Could be a real test and a better game than most are currently expecting.

When most coaches talk about rebuilding, they’re saying don’t expect much. This may be exactly what the U of L coach is saying, but if the rebuilding cycle remotely resembles last season’s re-engineering process, it’s going to be a productive season.

However, he needs the full attention of his players right from the start. No distractions. Time is precious.

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By Charlie Springer

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