Fans who attend the spring football scrimmage will be rewarded with an up-close look at Tom Jurich’s long-term commitment to the success of the program as the expansion of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium moves forward.

The naysayers who said it would never happen, the defeatists who have thrown up their hands after two losing seasons, and those not planning to renew their season tickets because the current coach was not fired — they’re shortsighted, making hasty decisions, wrong about the direction of the program.

The expansion is about the long term future, a future to which Jurich is totally committed, knowing that a part of his lasting legacy at the University of Louisville is inextricably tied to reestablishing U of L football as a nationally competitive program.

That’s why he’s giving Steve Kragthorpe at least one more season to show real progress. Hell, he may even give Kragthorpe more time if he really meant it when he put the program in a rebuild mode and said he hoped we could make it through the next two seasons.

Jurich has expressed confidence that Kragthorpe will get it done eventually, knowing full well that attendance could take a big hit this season if things keep going south. The fickle nature of fans is such that they will fall all over themselves getting back on the bandwagon if Kragthorpe miraculously manages to turn things around. The same thing would occur if the miracle required still another year.

Louisville needs to quit being a stepping stone for young coaches using the football program primarily to advance their own careers while screwing Louisville fans.

Sorry to disappoint those who want Jurich fired if Kragthorpe fails to get the job done. Not going to happen, according to two members of the U of L Athletic Association this observer has known for years. Jurich will make the call on Kragthorpe if and when it becomes necessary. If that time comes, expect Jurich to have learned from any mistakes.

When the first phase of the expansion is complete, seating capacity will have expanded to 55,000 seats, just in time for at least two sellouts against West Virginia and Kentucky during the 2010 season. The additional capacity will make it somewhat easier to schedule other major opponents at home. Jurich will get it done in spite of significant hurdles.

Despite winning two national championships in basketball, it was not unusual to hear Louisville referred to as a mid-major program that long ago. Jurich recognizes the value of a successful football program in building national respect. U of L is still benefiting from the BCS Orange Bowl win in terms of perception. When was the last time you heard someone refer to Louisville as a mid-major program? Not in the last two years, I’ll bet,

Many good years for Louisville football are ahead. But patience, perseverance, loyalty will be required, along with a few more humbling experiences on the field before getting there. But with the expansion project, Jurich is laying the foundation for prolonged, long-term success.

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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.

14 thoughts on “For The Future Of Louisville Football”
  1. I thought about what to expect tonight in the spring Game and thought I would look for 4 things and see how they appeared.

    -I want to see how the QB’s are throwing. Haven’t come up with a clear favorite to root for yet, and the spring game means very little in determining who will get the start in the fall, but I want to see at least one of these contenders throw accurate 10-15 yards passes consistantly.

    -Darius Ashley. Could be the key component to accompany Vic Anderson in the backfield this year. How well does he read the blocks and negotitate open field?

    -Brandon Heath. Had a position created just for him this year on the defense. “Cardinal backer” patterned after the “monster” position some teams use. A hybred linebacker/safety. Hit somebody…create some “OOOHS” from the crowd.

    -Josh Chichester. He is tall, but had no hands last year. A towering wide receiver that can catch the ball could be essential to Krag’s offense olans this year. Is Josh that guy? Would like to see him make 2-3 good, pressured catches tonight.

    Football is tough to get into this time of year, but maybe we’ll see enough tonight to keepthe fires burning and give us some anticipation for what appears to be a pivotal and very demanding season awaiting us. Fire up the grill and ice down the beverages!

  2. Charlie,
    Do you know if there are any plans to replace the existing seats in PJCS? I ran in the Papa Johns 10-miler last weekend. When entering the stadium, the red seats have faded into a bright pink. Its starting to look a little embarrassing. Thanks.

  3. Charlie,

    Please name one thing Kragthorpe has show on the field the last two years that gives you hope and patience that he will get the program turned around.

    No bowl again this year will force Jurich’s hand as attendance / revenue will continue to deteriorate. As a long-time fan, I refuse to pay the thousands of dollars to watch such a poor on-field product. Especially when tickets are being given away for free at the gates.

  4. This is more than about Krags, and nowhere do we say Krags will turn it around. It’s about Tom Jurich’s long-term commitment to the program. I don’t like sitting through losses any more than the next guy but I do know that Jurich will get it fixed. I fully expect more problems than solutions in the immediate future. Sit tight, support the program, and stick around.

  5. Charlie,

    I know I have stated my feelings about Krags multiple times on this site, but I am on board with Kragsucks, there is no evidence to support a turnaround with this guy. I have also said that Jurich will be forced to let Krag go at the end of the season, a third straight year of declining wins is fully expected. The rumor mill is swirling and the name that keeps coming up is Tubberville. I could see him sticking around and getting us back on the map with recruits, ESPN, etc. Its of course all speculation, but mark my word, if Krags doesn’t win 6 games this year he is gone. Do you see 6 W’s, no way, no how. There are 6 definite losses: @ UK, @ Utah, Pitt, @ WVU, @ Cinci, and @ South Fl. Southern Miss is capable in beating UofL as is Ark State, Rutgers, and UConn. Heck Syracuse could be much improved over last year and they are 2-0 against Krags anyway.

    1. I will not concede the UK game out of general principle. Tubberville would be a good pick. I’m not defending Kragthorpe, just showing support for Tom Jurich. Not that he needs it, of course, with everything he has done for the athletic program. He has earned the right to do what he thinks best for the football program whether what he does makes sense to us fans or not.

  6. While not a great believer in the recruiting experts I find it very interesting that even though coming off a BCS bowl win Kragthorpe’s first recruiting class was universally ranked in the 50’s. His second class was ranked in the 60’s. His third in the 70’s. Notice a trend. One more nail in the coffin which to my way of thinking was nailed shut a long time ago. Jurich is a great AD but no one is perfect. K was a huge mistake. And as a guy down the road proved you can fire a mistake after 2 years. Wish TJ had.

  7. Not a Koach fan by any stretch but I am a HUGE TJ fan. He KNOWS football. I say if we don’t win more than we lose this year, Krag is gone…my fear is that we go 6-6; a lousey bowl game and we’re stuck with SK for another year. I never want our kids to lose but man, another year? Say it ain’t so. I am confident that TJ will make it right – one way or another. Go CARDS!

  8. Coach Kragthorpe has publicly stated several times that it is “all on him” this year. He wants to be the guy that is totally accountable for all phases of Cardinal Football. So, let’s review how “Koach” did last night.

    -Fan interest: B+ 15-18,000 were in there last night. I watched the game from three different areas and listened to what was being said around me. A few snide remarks, but mostly hopeful and optimistic.

    -Player performance: C We’ve got some offensive weapons that Krag better figure out how to use. Anderson, Beaumont, Ashley, Nord, and Guy all have game changing skills. Yet, our defense was able to wrap them up effectively at times.

    -The quarterback bonanza: C. As mentioned in my article, I like the way Justin Burke directed the offense in the second half. I got a kick out of seeing little Will Stein out there roping a coui[ple of nice passes for completions. A couple of very nice pitch and catches between Tyler Wolfe and the wideouts. Still no clear leader. Too many sacks caused by coverage and missed blocks. Imagine how the Pittsburgh and West Virginia defenses will make these guys feel.

    It’s going to take one hell of a coaching job to get this team to .500, though and I’m not sure we’ve got the guy to do it…but I’ll be there to find out and I’ll let him know how I think he’s doing. Sonja likes to say: Love the players, love the game. I’m on board with that. Kickoff in less than 120 days.

  9. Jurich blew the Kragthorpe hire and the OOC schedule he inked in order to keep Kragthorpe employed is simply pathetic.
    If anyone believes UL is going to fill 42,000 seats (let alone 55,000) playing Arkansas State, Florida International, Indiana State, Southern Miss etc, I have some land to sell them.
    Tom has sacrificed his creditability, as evidenced by his attacks on the fan base, former players, local media and former coaches, in order to prop up a truly catastrophic hire.
    The saddest part of this entire ordeal is how the UL Athletic Board has stood by and done absolutely nothing; including failing to raise questions regarding the above mentioned OOC schedule.

      1. I am sorry to disagree Charlie. Too many political hacks on the AD Board and regular folks are not permitted into “executive session” where the Board allegedly discusses matters of importance.
        I believe last year the Board met 3 times.
        The Board per UL by laws has to approve all UL team schedules, approving the football schedule without anyone raising a question was very troublesome.

        1. The man I’ve known personally for over 30 years on that board is not a political hack, he’s a hardened businessman and dedicated U of L fan. What we’re all having trouble grasping is that we have to live with this one for at least another year. It’s difficult but it’s a reality.

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