Louisville football braces for early arrival of basketball

A new basketball season is coming, like a freight train, the last one seemingly having just concluded just a few weeks ago, this one with the potential of overwhelming anything football related in the River City.

Charlie Strong’s football team has got to churn out out a win this Saturday at Pittsburgh or discover first hand why his predecessors had doubts about Louisville becoming a football town. Football has come close to challenging round ball a couple of times, most recently with a win in the BCS Orange Bowl. But you know who up and left, sending UofL football back to the dark ages for three seasons.

Rick Pitino’s basketball team is picked first and second in a lot of polls, the pollsters torn between UofL and Indiana. Pitino likes the lofty ratings, telling 1,400 fans at the annual Tip-Off Luncheon Thursday that being a national contender is a good place to be. “But we’ve got to stay hungry and focused,” he reminded himself, the players and the sold out crowd.

The beginning of basketball couldn’t come at a more inopportune time for the football program, with cold weather and the start of the conference portion of the schedule. UofL was averaging 52,090 fans per game before the month-long road trip began, possibly too much time out of sight.

The basketball season starts earlier every year for some reason, tipping off this year four weeks before the end of the football season. There are a couple of exhibition games and the opening game in there, along with a possible direct conflict with the UofL-UConn football game and a basketball game in the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament on Nov. 24th.

We enjoy basketball, we’re crazy about UofL basketball, but this community’s love affair with one sport could have detrimental effects on another at a critical time in the athletic program’s history.  Football will always be king as far as the rest of the country is concerned, basketball almost an after thought.

If, and that’s a big if, Louisville is to be in serious contention for an invitation to a conference like the Big 12, a strong fan showing for the remaining games on the football schedule is highly desirable. Equally, if not more important, to enhance the odds of retaining Charlie Strong at the helm.

Can U of L fans support two programs at equally high levels with so much on line? If they’re both winning, obviously. But Strong’s charges, while successful thus far, are still awfully young, with much to learn. Players been impressed by the fan backing at the first three home football games, and a strong relationship will be reaffirmed if the team can handle Pittsburgh. Otherwise, local fans could be put through a major test.

Who leaves $45 tickets in a drawer anyway?

Charlie Springer

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

3 thoughts on “Louisville football braces for early arrival of basketball

  • October 12, 2012 at 5:58 pm

    This game will decide whether we have something special this year or we have to wait another year. I for one am tired of waiting for the future. I will be at every home game regardless of what happens Saturday.

  • October 13, 2012 at 9:47 am

    I will be blunt. This is year three of Coach Strong’s reign at Louisville. His team should run the table with talent he has accumulated at Louisville. The Big East does not have any teams that we should not beat this year. You are right about the importance of this game. It will reveal volumes on where this team and program is really at and where it is headed.

  • October 13, 2012 at 1:55 pm

    Cards win ugly again today, but a win is a win!

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