With decades of University of Louisville football behind him, the observer always approaches each new game with a sense of optimism, expecting to win. When one is a fanatic, one is never surprised by a win and does not fail to be devastated by a loss.


Anyone familiar with U of L football’s history knows that fans have been disappointed many more times than not. The incredible decade of bowl appearances and major victories before the Steve Kragthorpe era was an exception, of course, rewarding the faithful for sticking around during all the bad years.

Which leads us to the current situation. A situation in which a significant segment of fans expect to to lose most football games. A sizeable minority of impatient fans want Louisville to lose so changes will have to be made. The observer can’t live his life hating or castigating people associated with U of L. Doesn’t understand people who live that way. They are not helping the program by throwing rocks at the university.

That’s why he wants this coach to be successful. Wants him to be right about why the program has fallen on its face the last two years and thus far this season. Wants this team to eliminate the mistakes, embrace confidence, start winning games, and develop some swagger. The observer is not giving up on any U of L coach until Tom Jurich does.

Note: The observer is not an apologist, not does he make apologies, for Louisville football.

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If you haven’t visited Cardinal Laws, you should. The moderators, who go by the names of Mr. Black and Mr. Red, deliver brief and concise thoughts about U of L athletics. The observer especially liked a recent post about Louisville football, and why it should still be a draw for fans:

“For most of us, we will need to appreciate the finer things of being a Cards fan — the tailgating and the home games and watching the stadium get taller (absent the consideration of how we’ll fill it) and watching the aways at the neighborhood pub or at whoever’s house has the big-screen TV. If you can’t enjoy this season without seven wins and a bowl game, then I feel sorry for you, because it is not likely. That’s not to accept mediocrity or wave the white flag of surrender — you will see that on this blog that we will never give up. And It is definitelynot to excuse the coaching staff. But it is where we are. For this season at least, Cards fans, we are left with our lowest-common denominator — each other.”

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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.

15 thoughts on “When Wins Are Far Between”
  1. Just a matter of time before somebody interprets your comments as a defense of Steve Kragthorpe. Watch your back.

  2. I completely agree with this post. It’s good to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way. And thanks for tipping us off to the new blog. It looks like one that I’ll want to follow regularly.

  3. Some of the more vocal younger fans had never known anything but bowls so it’s hard for them to relate. Anyone who doesn’t go along with their badmouthing the coach and the university is a “Kragthorpe apologist”. It would be nice if we could take a crop duster and dump some common sense into their ranks. Jurich is doing the right thing, seeing how this season goes. But it sure grates on the nerves hearing the same dumb comments from the bitchers over and over. If we get our tails beat over and over this season, there will be a change and Kragthorpe will have been given plenty of chance to show some progress.

  4. I want to make my feeling perfectly clear. I am and always will be a UofL supporter. This does not mean that I have to have confidence in every employee of the university. This could relate to custodians, professors, and administrative staff just as easily as coaches.

    I WANT Uof L to win every football game. But the truth is I do not believe we will have a respectable program much less a consistantly winning program under the watch of Steve Kragthorpe.

    Given that feeling which has grown stronger by the week while, as I said, I want to win every game, IF WE LOSE I want to lose not heartbreakers or games we coulda/shoulda won but by large enough margins that a coaching change becomes inevitable. I have many friends who feel exactly the same.

    Do not be confused. This is in no way pulling for the Cards to lose. It is simply if a loss is for certain we want something positive to come from that loss and we believe the best positive would be a change at the top.

  5. I hear you, cbcard. Good thoughts and I agree with most of your points. The reference in my post to U of L employees was a veiled one to Tom Jurich who has done an unbelievably good job. I would give him an A- if Steve Kragthorpe doesn’t work out.

  6. Love the players, love the game. If Pitt wipes the field with us, though….I will be joining the anti-Kragthorpe forces.

  7. I want to start seeing some major progress … and soon. We may be back in the early Schnellenberger years where we have forgotten how to win.

  8. I think cbcard got it right. I don’t get why some fans feel the need to label the others as not “true fans” or “diehards” just because they don’t support the man in charge. It is possible to support the team and kids while also acknowledging that the head coach is driving the program into the ground. I also agree with cb that we should count no moral victories this year. This is year 3, and with our weak schedule anything less than 8 – 4 should get this guy canned. That is why Jurich’s comments are so alarming. Since when did we stop measuring improvement in wins and losses?

    The most mindboggling thing to me about this whole fiasco has been the jabs taken at the former players and coaching regime. Charlie, in your post you said, “That’s why he wants this coach to be successful. Wants him to be right about why the program has fallen on its face the last two years and thus far this season.” Do you truly mean this? Do you really wish for 41-9 to have been done the “wrong way” with thugs, criminals and bad attitudes? To do so is to tarnish everything we’ve accomplished over the last decade. I’ve said this before, but if we really were running a renegade program and breaking rules, Jurich needs to do the right thing and report our violations to the NCAA. I don’t see him doing that, which only furthers my suspicion that it’s nothing but b/s used to prop up our current coach. I refuse to discredit and demean the kids who worked their tails off to build something special.

    Finally… Sonja, out of curiosity, why is PITT your tipping point for Koach? Why not UK, Utah, or even the Syracuse and Rutgers games of last year? I just want to know what you see now that is different from our last 7 or 8 games.

    Here’s hoping that the Cards can pull out a victory against PITT. I don’t expect it, but will nevertheless get overly worked up and be majorly disappointed if we show signs of life only to let the win get away yet again.

  9. When he talks about the haters, the observer is referring to the foul mouths, such as those on the fan message boards who despise a coach, question his character, challenge his religion, denigrate the athletic director and downgrade the university.

    If you have visited ITV lately, you would know exactly what I’m talking about. I guess if you haven’t been there, the post would be confusing. It is not a wholesome experience, and you’re better off if you don’t go there. Those are the kinds of fans Jurich was directing his criticism toward and the rest of us should be able to understand that.

    I can relate to the people who think Kragthorpe is the wrong coach but then I’m only a fan and what do I know. I trust Jurich for all he has done and continues to do. He will do what is right for the university. After that, I can only show up, hope for the best, and pull for the Cards.

    But the bitter approach does not help improve the outlook. It does, however, reflect badly on the fan base and will have an impact on our ability to get non-committed people to make the right choice between U of L and UK.

    1. I agree 100 % that bashing a coach’s personal life does nothing to help our cause. However, I do believe part of that criticism was brought on by the coach and Athletic Department. We’ve been fed the “faith, family, football” and “doing it the right way” slogans since Kragthorpe was first hired. We don’t pay Koach to go to church and be a good Dad, so it’s reasonable to assume some people will question where his priorities lie when things go south. I don’t think this excuses the verbal assaults some fans make, though.

      Getting back to the topic, I think we can all agree that excuse time is over. For the first time in Koach’s tenure here, it really is all on him. Up to now I’ve been willing to trust Jurich, but everyone makes mistakes. If he once again makes excuses for his buddy and brings him back after anything less than a 7-5 or 8-4 year, I believe it’ll be time for the BOT to take things out of his hands. I really hope it doesn’t come to that, but I’ve seen stranger things happen. After all, who predicted that after the Orange bowl season we’d lose 3 straight to UK?

  10. I do not wish the cards to lose because it is so heart breaking when they do. My fear and it sounds like I am repeating others is the that we end up with a 6-6 season and TJ fells this is “making progress”. I want the cards to either win and win big or lose and lose big so that the decission is clear. At the end of the season there should be no doubt that Coach K is either our coach or not but lets hope that we don’t go through this again because we made progress and it is decided to give Coach K another year. Besides my heart can’t take it. Go Cards!

  11. I will take a 1 win season and stand by the U of L football team for a variety of reasons:
    1. I love the Cards.
    2. My favorite years are re-building years because you just never know and success just seems to be so much sweeter when you are the underdog.
    3. I love watching the young athletes out there doing all they can to win or lose.
    4. I love the new stadium and the crowds and the energy.
    5. I want to hope that winning isn’t everything, and that there is something to how you play the game.
    6. If only to be able to sing “BOOM” when the loud PA system plays that song, I will be in the stands win or lose.
    7. My dream season is getting to see all the home games at the stadium, no injuries, 100% graduations, no arrests and a coach that has enough Charisma to make me believe — win or lose. I think that’ is Koach’s only downfall — he needs to crack open the Schnelly Charm book and read a page.

    1. What a great idea. While we’re at it, lets take down the score board, hand out ribbons to everyone after each “game” and make smores on the 50 yd line. Read this very carefully… ATHLETES PLAY THE GAME TO WIN! Isn’t it obvious why these kids don’t respect Koach? They don’t buy this “game of life” crap. Many of these kids have pro aspirations, and they know now that he will never get them to their full potential.

      One more thing… “My favorite years are re-building years because you just never know and success just seems to be so much sweeter when you are the underdog.”

      Seriously? You can honestly say that you are enjoying this year more than 2006? Really?

      1. I guess not everyone has the same “flair for life” that you do Mr. Anonymous 🙂

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