It’s over. He has been fired.
Steve Kragthorpe will be remembered mostly as the coach who took over University of Louisville football at its peak, following a BCS/Orange Bowl win, and was at the helm as the program disintegrated over the next three years.
He was apparently unable to trust the fans to accept his reasoning but he never even tried. After all the losses on the field, this shortcoming was perhaps his biggest failure.
His first mistake was following the coach who had made such unparalleled success possible. Never follow a legend in coaching is one of the Cardinal rules in sports: You will never live up to the standards of a legend, even if you are winning.
Kragthorpe, of course, was never close to being successful at Louisville. Starting with the Murray State’s opening drive for a touchdown in his very first game, he never gave fans reason to think he would come close to matching Bobby Petrino’s success at U of L.
During those three years, player after player, coach after coach, administrator after administrator either left or was dismissed from the program for vague, often inexplicable reasons. Players were held out of games, for unexplained injuries or disciplinary problems. Players who showed promise during games would never get the calls again, again for unexplained reasons.
Kragthorpe was apparently unable to trust the fans to accept his reasoning but he never even tried. After all the losses on the field, this shortcoming was perhaps his biggest failure, as far as fans were concerned.
He was sorely lacking in communications skills and even basic public relations savvy, not understanding the depth of emotions Louisville fans have for their football program. Rather, he acted as if the program was his, the province of the people in the football complex, that fans were over-demanding and unrealistic in their expectations. Fans are that way everywhere but a coach has to learn to deal with those things.
Veteran observers recognized those characteristics in fans, urging patience, knowing that Petrino was not perfect, far from it, but Kragthorpe was unable to show any signs of progress.
The slide that began when Kragthorpe took over the program had just gathered too much momentum and there was no way to control or contain the damage without dismissing the man responsible for the mess.