Louisville Diehards Temper Football Expectations

Preparations for a new season have begun for the University of Louisville football team. Along with them come a variety of expectations, or a lack of them, for the diehards.

People who jumped ship or departed the bandwagon don’t qualify as diehards. They may or may not return, largely dependent on how the wins and losses stack up … during this season or in future seasons.

The diehards hope for improvement and wins but won’t be surprised if disappointed this season. They will be there come hell or high water.

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One had to like what the players are saying about this team. Receiver Scott Long, in particular, has been outspoken in his views on how well things are coming together. Quarterback Adam Froman exudes an air of confidence. Running back Victor Anderson says they will surprise a lot of people.

Freshman Darius Ashley, who was one of the best high school running backs in Ohio, isn’t saying much, but watch for his actions to speak for him.

The coach? Steve Kragthorpe is better off taking Ashley’s lead. Cliches don’t work for him.

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Plenty of individual talent. Depth is the big question. As usual, there are players who don’t make it to camp.

Louisville will be without Sean Farr, who failed to qualify, and Damien Dixon and Boogie McCray, who are transferring to other schools.  Walk-on Ravelle Salder decided not to walk on. Mozell Axson has had a knee operation and has been placed on permanent medical scholarship.

However, the loss of personnel must be held to a minimum.

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Charlie Springer

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

22 thoughts on “Louisville Diehards Temper Football Expectations

  • August 6, 2009 at 10:35 am
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    Speaking as a diehard, we will get through this.

  • August 6, 2009 at 12:31 pm
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    Man, I’m hoping things are not like they are painted by the chronic complainers. We need something unexpected to happen this season.

  • August 6, 2009 at 1:47 pm
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    This “diehard fan” stuff is getting ridiculous. It seems you are trying to chastise fans that have chosen to withdraw financial support by lumping them into the bandwagon category. Not only is this a low jab at some great fans, it’s just flat out incorrect.

    I realize that every team has bandwagon fans that come and go with the wins and losses, respectively. Add to that the struggling economy and it’s easy to see just how quickly that waiting list evaporated, despite the Athletic Department’s statements that sales are the same as always. Still, with the huge number of renewals being rejected there has to be another factor involved. Whereas you lump this third variable into the bandwagon category, I see it as a separate entity that loves the program as much as you or any other “diehard” fan claim to. Where you see fan desertion, I see action.

    What are fans to do when in this situation? Continue to buy tickets and thus support a coach who has in two short years set the program back ten? Not quite. In reality there is only one way to force an AD’s hand, and that is through his pocketbook. I admit this is a harsh way to try and bring change, but most fans taking this action were put in that situation by the administration and it’s abysmal handling of PR. What is a fan supposed to do when he or she has been numerously insulted in the media by the AD, and completely shut off from feeling close to the program by a coach’s constant use of cliches without any real information? Many fans would have much more tolerance for Kragthorpe’s struggles had Jurich handled the situation in a rational way, instead of throwing petty jabs at a great fan base through our local media.

    So will these fans who have given up season tickets still attend games? I for one will, and I believe others will too. The only difference is that while you shell out face value and a hefty donation to support the kids, I’ll be paying at most 5 bucks and probably have a better seat than you. These fans love the program as much as any of the so called diehards do, they just aren’t so foolish to continue to financially support a coach and AD who insist on insulting the fans and dragging the program back into the pit from which it came.

    What pains me the most personally is the transformation Tom Jurich has made over the past few years. Having met him, I truly respected him not only for his vision, determination and brilliance, but also for his willingness to take the time to talk with a lowly fan whose status is nothing compared to that of the big name donors of this program. However, with all the events that have transpired over the course of the last two years that respect is gone. That is the main reason why I feel it is not only ok, but necessary to pull financial support from the program. He has lost site of what sustains the program, the fans. It’s time for him to be reminded.

    Sorry this is so long, I’m just really passionate about the program and don’t want to be classified as a bandwagon fan just because I take a different perspective than you. Where you see a bandwagon fan, I see a person willing to take action for a cause, a revolutionary, if you will.

    • August 6, 2009 at 3:07 pm
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      I respect your opinion and appreciate all the thought you put behind it. I just happen to believe that Tom Jurich had no choice but to give Kragthorpe another season in his rightful approach to keep coaches from using Louisville as a stepping stone to other jobs. Jurich made the necessary decision this season despite the prospect of dwindling financial support. You have to respect someone who has the guts to do that.

      I do have a problem with people not supporting the program when things aren’t going right. Tom Jurich got U of L into the Big East, making it possible for football fans to think big. Now some of us want to belittle him or worse when things are not going right? Sorry, that’s not me.

    • August 6, 2009 at 3:43 pm
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      Great post, many on here know of my complete disgust of the Kragthorpe regime, and I am one of those who has not renewed his season tix. I’ll go to several games, for like $5 not $35 a ticket, same as you. Jurich has lost his mind in the way he has talked down to this fan base. He has allowed for all the $hit to happen. He allowed Krags to fire the whole Brohm family, what else is there. I recommend you knowledgable fans to go to fall practice and notice that the kind of kid Krags has is smaller, slower, and not as talented as has been here in the past. UofL lost 4 more players, 3 of whom Krags recruited, so whats the excuse now? I’vv repeat this all season, if UofL loses to UK and doesn’t go to a bowl, which both will happen in al likely hood, well Krags has to be fired, and if jurich won’t he can leave as well. I know how much he has done for this university and community, but he has lost touch with those of us who have been around and supported this program for longer than he has been around and will be here after he is gone.

  • August 6, 2009 at 3:30 pm
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    There is only one way to get the message through to the university that a change needs to be made. It is unfortunate that this message is dollars. Nothing else will get the message across.

    I have renewed my season tickets and will attend the games but I am passing on away games that I have attended in the past, even the UK game which I have never missed. I just received an email from UofL advising that tickets for the UK game are still available. I don’t think this has happened in the past so what does that say? The answer is one heck of a lot.

    I feel bad that the players won’t have as many fans in the stands cheering for them. In fact some of those tickets may even be snapped up by UK fans. What has happened to UofL football is not the players’ fault. Unfortunately for them they booked passage on a terrific ship not knowing it would turn out to be the H.M.S. Titanic.

    I hope I am wrong and that this season marks an upward turning point but I have very little optimism. I believe a change is needed. And it seems that will not happen unless fannies aren’t in the seats or at the concession stands. I have been to UofL games when we thought 5,000 people was pretty good all things given. I pray I won’t see that again. But I know of no other way disappointed fans can get their point across.

    And this in no way means I am not and will not remain a diehard.

  • August 6, 2009 at 10:04 pm
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    You people are not fans. You attend games to support the players and school, not to show you like the coach! Mr. Jurich has made over a dozen hires and because this one has not gone as well as the rest you are ready to throw him under the bus along with the coach. that is ridiculous! I have been a season ticket holder for 25 years and I will continue long after this. I survived the Ron Cooper against a much weaker schedule than we now face. If we endured that we can endure this. Get behind the coach for support, not to push him off the cliff. Some of you need to go over to the dark (BLUE) side.

  • August 7, 2009 at 7:43 am
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    Charlie:

    I agree with you completely that we need to give an impression to the coaching world of being a destination job, rather than a stepping stone. By showing patience with a new coaching staff we can show this is a desirable job. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I’d be much more tolerant of Kragthorpe if not for the PR disaster orchestrated by Jurich. That is the reason why I believe fans are voicing their displeasure so loudly, and rightly so. Please understand, 99 % of the fans aren’t belittling Jurich because he made a bad hire. Everyone screws up from time to time, and his huge success in every other sport buys him a few free passes IMO. Tell me, why does Jurich feel the need to make such comments as, “Our fans expect an Orange Bowl every week”, and my personal favorite, “Everyone except the people in Louisville know how great of a coach Steve Kragthorpe is?” Why must he insult our intelligence like this?

    On a related note, why does he often reference how things were done the “wrong way” under our previous coaching regime? If they were in fact done the wrong way and rules were being broken as he is implying, why have we not reported our violations to the NCAA and forfeited our wins and Orange Bowl trophy. Why must he throw prior players under the bus? You know, those criminals under Petrino like Harry Douglas, Michael Bush, Brian Brohm, Eric Wood etc,.

    Finally, can you name just one aspect of Cardinal football that has improved since Kragthorpe’s arrival? I can’t think of any, and I bet no one else can either. His constant blunders on and off the field have given fans no logical reason to have hope for the future. Missing an important speaking event where he was the keynote speaker? Seriously? Then he blames an administrative assistant? Or how about the weekly sermons we receive about doing things the right way, only to turn around and sign kids being investigated by the NCAA for academic issues and kids getting DUIs. Yep, sounds like the right way to me.

    Steve:

    Maybe you need to go back and read more carefully. Cardfan4life nor I ever said we wouldn’t support the program. I have tremendous respect for any kid who decides to dedicate a portion of their life to the program. Having been an athlete myself, I understand how it’s important for the kids to see they have the fans backing them, even if their coach is a lame duck. Count me in as one who will still be there, cheering the Cards, just for 5 bucks instead of 35 or 40. Meanwhile, you can sit up there on your “diehard” pedestal. Can you see the games any better from up there?

    • August 7, 2009 at 8:55 am
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      Anybody else see the contradiction from a professed supporter coming to the games but paying only $5 for his seats while others are paying the regular price? Sounds more like a mooch to me than a supporter.

      • August 7, 2009 at 9:16 am
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        A mooch? Because I found a better deal and took advantage of it? Who am I mooching off of? Oh thats right, in many cases it’s those so called diehards that kept their season tickets but don’t want to go and thus are giving their tickets away at the gate for little or nothing. And for the record, this “proposed supporter” will be the first in line to renew once Mr. Kragthorpe is out the door.

        I guess if I’m a mooch, then you’re just a sucker.

        • August 7, 2009 at 9:30 am
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          Classy, man. Glad I don’t have your conscience or lack of one.

          • August 7, 2009 at 9:45 am
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            Get off your high horse. The fact that I’m choosing to no longer contribute to the Kragthorpe family trust fund has nothing to do with any precieved lack of conscience you contribute to fans who feel this way. I’ll be there, cheering for the kids, and that is what matters. Not how much money I pay to do so. When did Louisville Football start to mirror Scientology? How much money should we have to pay to be a good fan? Or a super fan? Or dare I say, a diehard?

  • August 7, 2009 at 8:31 am
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    Reducing the program’s revenue by reducing the number of season tickets sold will not help Louisville hire a top-flight coach in the event that Coach Kragthorpe is fired.

    It also sends a signal to the kind of coaches we would like to hire that the University of Louisville football program’s fans don’t have the stomach for the sustained outside support–through bad times and good–necessary to build a traditional powerhouse.

  • August 7, 2009 at 12:43 pm
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    Scott:

    I don’t think one season of declining ticket sales will influence our ability to hire a big name coach. Rather, the possible trend of it will force Jurich’s hand to go out and get a quality coach that can put a winning product on the field, and thus fill the seats. U of L is, dollar for dollar, one of the most profitable programs in the country. While we may not be able to throw Nick Saban money at someone, who says we even need to? There are plenty of up and coming coaches that would love the opportunity to coach a program with a great road to the BCS. We’ve got great facilities and the stadium expansion on the way. We have a passionate fan base that wants the program to succeed, even though we may disagree about which path to take in order to get there.

    You’re right about fans voicing displeasure sending a signal. It says we won’t accept mediocrity. I don’t know about you, but I want a coach who thinks the same way. Again, I’m not saying we shouldn’t give a new coach time to implement his system and recruit. Football is a game of numbers, and quality depth is something that needs to be established in order to be successful in the long term. However, we haven’t seen any forward progress with Kragthorpe, which is why so many are upset. We’re still signing questionable players and an abundance of JUCOs. Many don’t even make it to campus. Not to mention complete lack of discipline and player development.

    We fans who have rejected season tickets understand there will be up years and down years. What we don’t understand, and will not tolerate is a continuous downward spiral, which is what we are currently seeing. I truly hope we see improvement this season; winning cures everything. But I’m not holding my breath.

  • August 7, 2009 at 3:33 pm
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    I agree with the point that a change is needed, and we all know what change it is, but talking of canning Jurich is absurd! Our university as a whole is DOMINATING the country. Jurich has made a bad coaching hire, but it is not the first. Have faith that either our current coach will show the potential Jurich saw, or Jurich will find our next Petrino. Bottom line, A real fan will support their team, no matter who is leading them. GO CARDS!

  • August 7, 2009 at 3:34 pm
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    P.S. I think Kragthorpe is hooked on World of Warcraft!

  • August 7, 2009 at 6:10 pm
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    wow…so much to absorb on this little post. as i read through the comments, i was trying to get together what i wanted to say, but most of you touched on one or more things i wanted to mention. therefore, i will not beat a dead horse.

    i do, however, want to add one little thing…

    if you are going to go to a game, whether it’s for $5 or $35, whether it’s for the ad, the coach, or the players, whether you’re a diehard or a bandwagon fan, stay in your seat for the entire game!

    it’s so embarrassing to see half the stadium empty out early in the third quarter, just because we’re down by 14 (yes, i know we’re not used to trailing by 14 after the early 2000’s). we could never become the traditional powerhouse we all want to be by abandoning our team half-way through the game. i know it’s frustrating, but bite your lip and stick through it. remember a couple years ago, when michigan started the season ranked in the top 10, only to be humiliated in its first two home games to app. state and oregon? if you recall, the big house was still packed for the entire game.

    if they can do it during a season with bcs title hopes, why can’t we during a tough coaching transition?

  • August 7, 2009 at 6:18 pm
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    sorry…

    big house was packed the entire time, for both games.

    and, along with being embarrassing to the nation, how do you expect to lure big name players and coaches when they see a fan base boo and abandon their team so quickly?

    now i’m ranting…see what uofl football does to me! lol

  • August 7, 2009 at 8:05 pm
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    Regarding leaving early:

    At one of the basketball games last year people were leaving at the under 4 time out in a one point game. I started a mini-section cheer of “Sell your tickets, sell your tickets.” We got a lot of dirty looks from the early leavers but it sure felt great.

  • August 8, 2009 at 5:00 am
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    The person who for some reason declines to reveal his or her name makes my point for me: “…we may not be able to throw Nick Saban money at someone…”

    Not if our season ticket holders and donors give up their season tickets every time we go through a down cycle.

    Arkansas and Mississippi fans do not do this, and both programs have certainly had some down times since their Holtz and Manning years respectively. Waiting lists remain long, required donations stay high, and the “charity groups” that support the program–and often supplement the coach’s salary, making the “Saban” money possible–grow in membership even as the coach loses games. Note that Arkansas could pay Bobby Petrino what he asked because the Razorback Foundation kicked in.

    Mr. Anonymous makes another point for me: “There are plenty of up and coming coaches that would love the opportunity to coach a program with a great road to the BCS.” True enough–and six years ago that was Petrino, and three years ago that was Kragthorpe. We can keep hiring the “up-and-coming” coach, and then criticize later when he starts giving hiring interviews to every program that can pay real money–or just doesn’t pan out.

    The strategy you support–hiring the hot young coach–isn’t working for us.

  • August 10, 2009 at 7:15 am
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    CardSinner:

    I agree that canning Jurich would be the absolute worst thing to do. You simply can’t deny the amazing success our overall athletic program has had since his arrival. I do think he has lost touch with this fanbase, which is the lifeblood of any program. I’ve yet to hear one reason explaining why he feels the need to lash out at fans and former coaches in order to support Kragthorpe. There are plenty of ways to show support for the coach without insulting fans. To me it shows he is being petty and immature. Hell, if he’d just admit his mistake deal with it like any normal person all would be forgiven.

    Scott:

    First off, what is with the jabs about being anonymous? Would it make you feel better if you had some random internet moniker to assign to these posts? Would that somehow make them more valid in your eyes?

    Anyway, do you seriously think we’d be able to pay someone Nick Saban money if our fans sold out season tickets every year for a stadium less than half the size of theirs? Not to mention the huge sums of money made through merchandise sales and donations. We simply aren’t that big. Which leads me to my next point.

    How do you think teams that can afford big time coaches can do so? The answer is all of those teams have had sustained success. Louisville simply doesn’t have that history rich tradition like many schools that can afford to pay big time money do. Tradition and sustained success is what grows a core fanbase. We were one of the hottest programs in college football only 3 years ago. We were starting to appear in big name bowls and garner some national recognition. We needed to keep the success going, but we have fallen off the face of the planet. Big time programs can withstand down periods because of the huge base they have built over their many years of success. We simply cannot, which in my opinion is why it is important to make a change quickly. The longer we are down, the longer it will take to climb back.

    About the whole up and coming coach not working for us, we were 81-30 during that time span for a 73 % win percentage, had one of the longest home winning streaks in college football and beat UK like a drum in most of those years. What exactly wasn’t working? The fact is that it was working well until the Kaptain got here and ran us into an iceberg.

    To CBCard and Log4cards:

    Agree about the leaving early thing. I remember the UConn game back in 06. Senior day in a year of unprecedented success, and the stadium is maybe 2/3 full. I couldn’t believe it. Add to the fact that most expected it to be MB’s last year and that place should have been packed. It was very disappointing.

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