Tom Jurich remains firm in his support of Steve Kragthorpe as coach of the University of Louisville football team.Ã‚Â “He’s as good a coach as I’ve ever hired,” he said Thursday at the GovernorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Cup Kickoff Luncheon. “I’m going to stand behind him as long as it takes. I’m in this for the long haul, to build it the right way.”
Strong words, spoken without any indication that JurichÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s confidence in KragthorpeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s abilities has wavered after a disappointing 6-6 record in his first year at the helm. No parsing of words, no beating around the bush: he believes in the coach.
Jurich knows football, he knows his glowing reputation is at stake, and he knows the future of the programÃ‚Â hangs in the balance.Ã‚Â ItÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the same kind of confidence he has voiced in Rick Pitino when some fans were all but jumping ship duringÃ‚Â the early going of a couple of basketball seasons.
He knows fans, knows they are impatient, knows their expectations can be unreasonable during coaching transitions. He also recognizes that they may not have all the facts about the personnel, what has gone on in the past, and what is transpiring now. He also knows what it takes to field winning teams and ensure long-term stability.
Jurich has transformed the athletic program at UofL in ways that were not imagined just a decade ago. If he stakes his reputation on Kragthorpe, then one has to believe there is ample justification for his faith in the man.