Who said Louisville fans weren’t passionate about football.

The situation is beset by bitterness, so loathsome in fact that hard core Steve Kragthorpe haters have unleashed their ire not only on Kragthorpe, with Tom Jurich close behind, but attacking each other and fellow fans, casting their prickly barbs at anyone not demanding an immediate firing.

Objectivity is questioned, optimism is dumb, hope ridiculed, and loyalty beside the point.


The consensus following the collapse of Louisville football in the second half of the Pittsburgh game is that end of the Kragthorpe era is near. The only question is how soon the curtain will fall. Will Jurich dismiss Kragthorpe in the next few weeks, or allow him to finish the season? 

In the aftermath of the narrow loss to Kentucky, it appeared that Kragthorpe would have the rest of the season to turn things around — despite the fact that Louisville should have won the game. Continued improvement might be enough to earn him a fourth year at the helm.

Before the season started, knowledgeable people gave Louisville little, if any, chance of beating Utah or Pittsburgh. But those teams were exposed early on as having significant weaknesses. Despite being double-digit underdogs, the Cards were expected to at least be competitive, possibly be in a position to pull an upset or two.

The opposite happened: Louisville wound up being embarrassed in both outings. That was enough to convince Kragthorpe haters that they have been right all along.

Even many fans willing to give Kragthorpe the benefit of the doubt are recognizing that a disastrous season lies ahead. With the predictable play calling, shameful lapses on defense, the obvious lack of depth, a growing injury list, and the spectre of a 1-11 season, the odds of significant improvement are indeed remote.

Something needs to be happen soon … even if it’s the wrong thing.

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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.

39 thoughts on “Louisville Football Has Gotten Ugly”
  1. Tom Jurich has no choice now but to make some kind of move. The situation is out of hand. It is dangerous leaving the games now because some hotheads are so angry. I don’t know the solution but Krags has got to go. I hate to say it but it’s come to this.

  2. What are these losses — and the way in which U of L is losing – doing to our recruits for next year, the year after and the year after that? Good recruiting is the lifeblood of college football programs. Where does U of L stand?

  3. As ugly as it appears to some, and as bad as it has gotten on the internet boards, post game walks to the car and casual discussions with friens about the state of UofL football….I’d be very surprised if Jurich makes a move on a coaching change before the season ends. If he makes a move at all. One-third of the season is finished. To play devil’s advocate…UofL was a surprising 5-2 at the end of October last year and people we’re talking about which bowl they would head to. Look at what happened. The Cards will have eight games in the books by the end of October this year.
    A 4-4 record could lead to some optimistic thought of splitting the final four games and getting a low tier bowl. Not saying it’s going to happen, but that’s why they put on the helmets and play…

  4. K is a dead man walking…

    Multiple reliable sources indicates discussions are taking place right now on contract buy-out… K knows candidates are being reviewed by Jurich. A replacement will not occur before the end of the season–at least that is the plan as i hear it.

    TT are the initials i would focus on…

    In another vein, Charlie knows I have thought K is an awful coach ever since the first Middle Tenn st game–his second game. I have wanted him gone–vehemently. But…I have always grudgingly understood and accepted TJ’s conservative logic of at least 3-4 yrs for a new coach, and have supported the team.
    In fact, last yr with the S Fla win, I was truly hoping he had turned the corner.

    But…the time has come.

  5. The attacks being made regarding the football program are not as one sided as the article makes them out to be. There were quite a few fans who saw through this phony from the beginning, and they took plenty of heat because of it. They were called haters, bandwagon fans, posers, losers and many more childish names just because they held a viewpoint opposite of the great Jurich.

    Also, the vast majority that want Krag out didn’t realize it after the Utah and Pitt games. It was after our first season.

    1. Anyone who minimizes the situation is rationalizing their behavior. There is a large group of fans, typical of fan groups, who consider themselves football experts when in fact they know little about the coaching aspects of the game and how complicated coaching transitions can be. They deserve to be challenged because they went overboard way too early because they couldn’t handle losing.

      1. I am by no means a football expert, nor do I claim to be. Like I said, many fans including myself knew something was wrong after those first few games, and became more certain as the first season went on. It wasn’t that we were losing; it was how we were losing and who we were losing to.

        Regarding the time given to Kragthorpe, he should never have been given a third year. I am normally one to support the 3 year rule, but this case is different. Time is given in order for a coach to bring in both players and assistants of his choosing. We’ve had a total of 6 different offensive and defensive coordinators in 3 years. We’ve also had a lot of player turnover over the last few seasons. With all of this turnover, I ask how we can ever establish a consistent philosophy on either side of the ball? Koach has fired most of his coordinators after each season in order to keep the heat off of himself. This shows me he has no interest in continuity and is only looking for a quick fix.

        Don’t be so quick to say that the fans who wanted K out after year 2 won’t be patient with the next coach. Let’s make something completely clear. The propaganda the AD started spewing after the Syracuse loss in 07 about all the “problems” K inherited from Petrino is A LIE. Pure and simple. Many seem to forget that K was talking about making a run for the title prior to the start of that season.

        I believe that fans who share my viewpoint will all agree that our next coach really will be inheriting a mess, and will be more than happy to stand behind him and grit our teeth through the tough times yet to come. There are only a few things I’d like to see from our next coach in order to justify having 3 or 4 years to clean up Kragthorpe’s mess:

        1. A team that respects him and doesn’t quit on him
        2. Information on the team. I’m not asking for a signed copy of the playbook, but just let us know what is going on with the team. I still don’t get why everything has been so secretive the last few years.
        3. Recruit! Bring in a solid team of assistants and give them support. Take back the state of Kentuckty from UK, and make a concentrated effort to bring recruiting back from where it has sank under K’s watch.

        Simple enough, right? lol

        1. That’s pretty strong stuff, calling the man a liar who got the University in the Big East, hired the previous two coaches, hired Rick Pitino and all the other good coaches. Argue facts but please don’t pretend you know everything that was going on in the program. It’s just a little too easy for you to hide behind Mr. Anonymous and make accusations about something you really have no knowledge about.

          1. I’m not pretending that I know everything. The fact is that we as a fan base know nothing about the true situation because the AD won’t tell us. All we have to go on is insinuation and coach speak. Why should we be quick to defame the most successful group of players and coaches in Louisville football history when we have no facts to prove it?

            Do you truly believe its right to slander those players and coaches based on what our AD and coach have said to the media? Those guys made a lot of sacrifices and put in a lot of sweat to give us those seasons. I just feel it’s wrong to throw mud on them. If there truly was a huge mess left by Petrino then I owe Jurich an apology and I would gladly do so both here and to his face if I were to meet him. For him to get that apology though, he better give me the facts.

            I’m not hiding behind anything. This is an internet message board. I’m not going to post my SSN and DOB in order to gain credibility. If you’d like to have a conversation in person I’d be happy to. I love to talk sports with fellow Card fans and UK fans too. Don’t expect my views to change if we’re speaking in person though. I stand behind what I’ve said, and until I’m given some FACTS and proof, I refuse to defame those former players and coaches that took Cardinal football to unprecedented heights.

          2. I simply cannot read this junk w/o responding.

            Look, Coach K came in here with a legitimate Heisman trophy candidate and most of the star players from that Orange Bowl team. By all pre-saeson polls they were a legit top 10 team. What happened? You know what happened. The team blew up. It goes to show how much a coach influences a team’s personality. I have never seen Coach K get angry at the boys. He pats them on the butt and says “Don’t worry, we’ll get ’em next time.” That’s not the way Petrino or any great coach teaches football players! Football players need strong motivation; even a bit of anger in their face!

            That post-Orange Bowl team could have done better that year if they had called their own plays from Petrino’s playbook. We did not need to rewrite the playbook.

            Those people who keep supporting Coach K are really supporting the continuation of a less than mediocre program or, let’s just say it “A LOSING PROGRAM!!” That’s the truth.

            If Jurich wants to fill those new seats in Papa John’s stadium that he’s having built, then he better get the football team above .500. Coach K will never be there!!

            Face reality people! K is a nice guy, but he is not a high caliber coach for 1-A division football. I have seriously come to think that those who think K deserves one more year must be against the Louisville football program. How in the world people could want to keep a coach that drove a legit top 10 team straight into the ground is beyond me!

    2. I was among those willing to give Kragthorpe time and I will give the next coach three years as well. I doubt that many in the same group who gave up early on Kragthorpe will suddenly become patient and understanding with the next coach.

  6. I guess the main question is what record gets him a chance at a 2010 season here? Most people I talk to need to see a 6-6 finish and then a minor bowl somewhere. Anything lower is time for a chance, from what I’m hearing.

    The problem is, where do you find (5) more wins in this schedule? Syracuse, Arkansas State and Southern Miss are possibles.,..but find me two more. An upset on the road at UConn? A season ending win over Rutgers here at home?

    I just don’t know…

  7. I think Kragthorpe “haters” is perhaps too strong. It tends to imply a deep disdain for an individual. I have been concerned about SK before his first game (more on that to follow) and gave up on him as a coach a long time ago but I have nothing against him as a person, only as a coach of my beloved Cards. I think he was the wrong person for the job. I think he has inflicted great damage to the program. I wish he had never gotten the job. I wish he had been fired or quit long before now. But I don’t hate him.

    Why was I ahead of even frankpos? Early in SK’s first year (before the Syracuse diaster)I bumped into Scooter and Rodney McCray. Scooter asked me how I felt about the football program. I said I had misgivings before practice started. I told them that I had heard the players saying SK’s a players’ coach over and over. I then said “Do you know what that told me?” and before I could go on Scooter said “It means no discipline! That’s code for not making them work hard and getting away with stuff.” This from a former star player, NBA player and assistant coach, someone who should know. We both knew SK fumbled the ball before his first game. The MTSU game only confirmed it.

    And by the way someone who I believe told me he was sitting in one of the first rows behind the UofL bench that game. While the offense was trying to kill the clock in what was still a tight game the defensive players were huddled on the sideline. This person could hear them. What were they talking about? Getting back on the field and stuffing Middle’s last chance? No, they were discussing where they were going to party that night! Now that’s discipline. Not!

  8. I’ll come out and say it too– to put on the blame on Petrino for the “mess” and the lack of performance that first yr–when both K and Jurich were boosting nat’l championship hopes right up to the first game– was a bold faced, pathetic excuse if not an outright LIE !!

  9. Let’s be honest: Confidentiality and privacy laws in a litigious society make it impossible to know how the personnel situation was. Expecting people to expose themselves to those conditions is unrealistic. I agree that allowing people to expect the team to compete for a national championship was way off base.

    1. Agreed that we can’t go naming names. Unfair to the kids anyway. However, if rules were being broken then there is a bigger issue here. Our AD should have immediately reported our violations to the NCAA, if they really did exist. I don’t see that happening, which adds to my suspicions that it is nothing but a lie.

      I guess this is really the one million dollar question though. Why did our AD and Coach hype a title run if they knew of all the problems?

  10. I am a long time football in general and Cardinal specific fan. I was willing to give Coach K a chance, even though it made no sense that the team sucked the first year… The claims of rebuilding that year and the “cleaning up the mess” issues… The first few games, ok, there are new coaches and plays and such to learn, and there is bound to ne a few missteps when dealing with that, but it shouldn’t take 3 years to get over those. Especially when there has been NO IMPROVEMENT!!! I have a very hard time watching the games this year… And am married to a UK from birth fan, who takes pleasure in watching UofL lose, but even he thinks it is time for K to go and UofL to be some what competitive again… If Jurich is too blind to see that there is a change needed, then he needs to go.

    I think Jurich’s problem is that he is too close to the situtation to see clearly… He wanted to bring in K for a very long time and had already made up his mind on that point before Petrino left… There was no long or short list of canidates for the job… there was only one name. I think generally Jurich is a very good AD, but on this point, he needs to wake up and see that his friend is going to cost him his job.

  11. Paul,

    The next game is important, because if we can’t beat a Southern Miss that that just lost it’s starting quarterback, lost to Troy at home and plays in the Sun Belt Conference (FAU, FIU, WKU, MTSU) then the fans will be screaming for a change louder than teenage girls at a Beatles concert.

    Also, some are intimating on here that Jurich is a liar. I think you need to be careful of that. We all know Petrino is a liar, but to accuse him of this is unfounded, hearsay and speculative.

  12. Oops. I was looking ahead to Arkansas State in some of that last comment.

    My bad.

    I realize that USM is in the C-USA and didn’t play Troy.

  13. To Frankpos point…I don’t think it was all a lie. Petrino had a lot of kids who did not make it to campus. Where I think it went wrong was that Jurich bought in too quickly that there was this rampant undercurrent of drugs and insubordination when in actuality it was krag’s inability to relate or show any empathy for these kids problems. I know that krag lost the team when he showed unconcern for many of them not receiving their meal plan cards because of some administration screw up. They weren’t able to support themselves until the situation was corrected.

    He said they could come to him and that he cared, and then he acts like there was nothing he could do. It was just a stupid, stupid thing to do just because he wanted some of them gone.

    Even if TJ realized pretty quickly that SK was a bad fit what could he do? We are not UK, Alabama, or Oklahoma where you turn to a few oil, coal, and cotton barons to fork over millions for a buy out after one year or two. He’s tried to bring krag along and supported him as he should have. Now we’ve got a coach and the money lined up to do this “the right way”. The endless whiners should grow a brain. It’s not difficult to figure things out if you are aren’t acting like an infant.

    1. Sorry, but this is ridiculous! You’re one of those sympathizers telling us to “grow a brain” because we don’t want a losing program right after having the best team in Louisville history. Your type needs to grow a brain and some b*lls! You want this program to be kicked out of the Big East? You want us in 1-AA? Get a clue. Coaches who take a legit top 10 team and drive it into the dirt does not deserve to be coaching 1-A football. Your sympathetic view is against the good of the Louisville football program! Remove your humanistic sympathy and look at it rationally! K has got to go!!

  14. That’s some serious stuff about the meal plan cards, Card Truth, and a side that most fans were unaware of. If people are busting their butts for me, they are going to be taken care of, even if I have to raise all kinds of hell with the administration.

  15. The longer this goes on the more things come out about SK. And if only a third of them are true it paints a pretty bad picture.

  16. Okay….we all know the situation here. This team has not gotten better….two years ago, one year ago or this year. We don’t have either the talent or the coaching necessary to produce the wins we were used to.
    Nor do we have an innovative offensive that features exciting passing that UofL was known for. Everyone agrees a coaching change is necessary. The question is where do we go from here? And how do we get Tom Jurich onboard?

  17. Kragthorpe is gone already. TJ cannot ignore the signs any longer. I knew it would come to this and it still sucks. National TV pundits have ridiculed UofL for the last time, of well there is next week. Crowds leaving in hoards, the team giving up, getting blown out of the water. Theses are all things that TJ sees and he can lie to us about Kragthorpe being the coach here next year but the truth is the writing is on the wall and the search has begun. UofL might actually beat Southern Miss, but it doesn’t prove a thing because of the loss of their stud QB. If they lose, Krags may not make it to november.

  18. Tom, I don’t think there are any people supporting him now so we don’t have to waste our time. But just because a team comes back from the Orange Bowl doesn’t mean it’s a world beater.

    1. No one was asking for a “world beater.” I knew they would not go to the NC game. I had serious doubts they would even be in a BCS bowl. But, no one in their right minds would have ever dreamed that the team coming back after winning the Orange Bowl with that many high-caliber players would completley drop off the competitive map altogether. After about the 4th or 5th game of K’s first term, I knew there was a serious problem, but frankly, I never thought it would get this bad.

  19. I’ve been hopeful for Koach all along and wanted him to do well this season… he’s a really nice guy and is finally starting to get the team on the right track character-wise, but sometimes your best just isn’t good enough. I think he’ll make a fine coach eventually… somewhere else.

  20. Tom, way to prove my point. Obviously your head isn’t used for much except a hat rack.

    1. The only point you are proving is that you enjoy watching your team be a doormat right after the best team in the history of Louisville football. That is, if you are even a UofL fan. Maybe you want to see UofL get stomped because you hate the university. I don’t know your reasoning, but it’s not rational. Stop your bleeding heart for K and grow some!

  21. Tom, you aren’t too sharp about reading either are you? Maybe you’re confused about this line: “Now we’ve got a coach and the money lined up to do this “the right way”.”

    I did not mean kragthorpe, as there are strong indications that a new coach has already been selected. I have thought SK was a bad fit from the first season. And “the right way” was obviously a joke about the most over quoted phrase in UL history. Get it now, genius?

  22. I am very excited to see who our new coach will be. I don’t know when it’s gonna happen, but I am sure if we can’t get past Southern Miss this will be K’s last year, and yes I am more then willing to give the new coach 3 or 4 years to fix this KRAP. Honestly I do not care what Petrino left behind and it couldn’t have been too bad becuase all of those kids are long gone and we are still losing.

  23. The old story goes that a fired football coach left three envelopes in his desk for the next koach–to use when he ran into trouble.. Koach opens first one after (name your game here), envelope says, ‘Blame the previous coach.’ Later, koach opens the second one–it says,’Blame your staff.’ Last Saturday night, koach finally opens the third one. It says, ‘Prepare three envelopes…’
    Strongly suspect that this has already taken place, and Jurich is just waiting for a chance to do it with some class. Suggest the fan base do the same. We can’t always have a ranked football team, but we can always have class. TJ didn’t suddenly get dumb–let him do his thing with class.

  24. Good one, GentleJohn. Part of the challenge is that so many fans have never had management experience and don’t understand all the nuances that go into building a program through the inevitable peaks and valleys. Some believe you can fire a coach at any time without any long-term repercussions on the program. Thank goodness, we have an AD that takes all of these things into consideration. He’s not perfect. No one is. I’m sure he would take the Orange Bowl comment back in a flash. It was probably made in jest but that goes right over the heads of many people. Some of these characters make all football fans look like nuts and they don’t reflect favorably on the U of L fan following either.

  25. Kragthorpe has lost the fan base to a big extent, there are rumors that he’s lost a significant amount of the players as well, and this is cetainly one hot potato that Tom Jurich has to deal with, but do you do it during the season? I don’t see it.

    Will a new coach come in now and be a miracle worker for the final eight games?

    The suggestion is to see how the season ends and deal with what must be done at the end of it. There is no need to get insulting or deragatory toward other posters on here.

  26. SK knows the game, the Xs and Os, but he’s not connected with his players. They respect him because they recognize that he knows the game of football. However, he doesn’t know the rules of football too well.

    SK’s too involved in “character building” instead of putting together a winning football team. By the time kids get to college most of their character is already built. Sometimes it can be tweaked a little bit here and there, but for the most part it’s already set.

    SK’s too wrapped up in religion. Why have players read the book, “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rev. Rick Warren? Self-help books like that can be summed up in four words: “Be good, do good.”

    SK should demonstrate some character by giving Jurich notice that he’ll leave as soon as Jurich can get a replacement in. But alas! SK’s more talk than action when it comes to character.

    1. Religion is not a diversion from good football. Just ask former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy. Some people apply anti-religion bias to advance their opinions. Nothing wrong with character building, either. To imply otherwise defies common sense. More likely he’s just not a good football coach at this level.

  27. One thing people fail to realize is that this problem is shared by all U of L fans, not just us as individuals. When people attack other fans, they are not being constructive or helping to resolve the issue. They are making it worse, creating division and creating a bad impression of Louisville fans.

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