A couple of thoughts in the hotel room before hitting the road again:

— The continued whining by a boisterous segment of University of Louisville football fans after the principle players, Tom Jurich and Steve Kragthorpe, have made their final decisions harms the football program more than a 5-7 won-lost record or even 11-13 in two seasons.

— Many of these same fans, the ones with exalted and unrealistic expectations, will be climbing all over Rick Pitino and Jurich’s backs if the U of L basketball team fails to win the Big East or go to the Final Four this season.

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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.

10 thoughts on “On The Road”
  1. Some fans are just unrealistic, but the heat that has been bestowed on Krag/Jurich is well grounded.
    If he is allowed to stay for another couple of years by longtime friend Tom Jurich since Northern Arizona, Krag is on track to be among THE WORST coaches/recruiters that has EVER been at Louisville. Yes, even worse than Cooper.
    In basketball, The Master has taken us to a Final 4, NIT, 2nd round NCAA, and an Elite 8.
    Considering all things, I am very pleased with the outcome of basketball under Hall of Fame Coach Pitino, and the recruiting has been second to none, with a #4 recruiting class this season (UNC #5).

    Pitino shows passion, and recruits like champ.

    I am pleased, and I am about as hard as they come on head coaches.

    Other than Krag, I would not trade Walz, Pitino, or McDonnell for ANY other coach on Earth.

  2. I’ve been working on a early philosophy for Cards football ’09. Chances are, I’ll forget what it was by football season…but as of today..here is the philosophy.

    Love the players, love the game.

    Simple, straightforward and sincere. Noitce there is no mention of coaches, administrators, directors or fans. I say this because I’m sure we’ll renew our season tickets again, do our tailgating across from the stadium and socialize per usual. I asked myself…what were the things that got me accross the street each time to Papa John’…and the answer was to watch my favorite players and wait for them to do good things during the game.

    Love the players, love the game.

    It just may be the things that get me thru a potentially rough season next year. Until then, it’s:
    “on T-Will, on Sosa on E-5 and Sam! on Angel, on Candyce, on Brandie and Dez! Merry basketball to all, and may we have some great nights!”

  3. Shannon and Sonja: I’m convinced that the people who remain faithful to the program will be rewarded. Not offering any timeline but it will happen.

  4. I am a long time supporter of UofL athletics. That includes support for players, staff, school, etc. But it also includes realism and I have seen zero signs that Coach Kragthorpe will be capable of recruiting and coaching players with sufficient talent and drive to field a competitive team.

    The proof of the pudding is his 0-2 record against Syracuse, the team that had become the symbol of ineptitude in the BE. This is a university that won only three BE games in four years yet beat a UofL squad that at the time earned the “honor” of losing in the greatest upset against the spread in the history of college football. And inexplainably failed to play with enthusiasm and a thirst for retribution against the ‘Cuse the next year.

    When we played Syracuse that year I watched the players coming out of the locker room on the jumbotron and turned to my wife and said that we were in trouble. There was no emotion, no fire. This has become a familiar pattern. Only in the South Florida game did they seem to come out with emotion. What a coincidence that the Cards won that game! K is not a motivator. And football, of all team sports, requires the highest level of intensity and controlled mayhem. I fear that K does not instill that in his players and therefore we will continue to slide under his watch.

    Will I be at the games? Absolutely! But my confidence level is the lowest it has been in 10 years. And this fall is from a much higher height.

  5. Oh no….I don’t think fans would react harshly against Coach P OR TJ if the basketball season doesn’t end in a Final 4 or National Championshp. As long as U of L is COMPETITIVE in ANY sport/game the fans are there behind them – giving their all. Now in football it’s a whole ‘nother story. When you see the program fall apart before your very eyes and a Koach who seems he could care less (he was all smiles and jokes during his hour long presser), it’s a hard, bitter pill to swallow. Nevertheless, GOOD fans will always support the university, (that means KEEPING our football tickets….)TJ and the team. It’s the Koach who is so hard to take. Always, Always Go CARDS! and GO KRAGTHORPE (really) ;o)

  6. As I have said before, TJ KNOWS how to be a friend even to the point of being deceived at times. Koach on the other hand is a lousy friend to TJ. I believe a good friend would, at this point , seeing the unrest and potential harm to the U of L Football Program, say to Tom……you gave me a shot and I blew it. Now, I am NOT going to stay and cause you more pain and possibly wreck everything you’ve worked your butt off to achieve for the past 15 years. Instead, he is digging in his heels vowing to stay until it’s fixed (yeah, like a bull in a china shop) and leaving TJ out there to defend his pitiful performance. With friends like SK, Tom doesn’t need any enemies. This issue has grown into one between TJ and SK. The fans (I believe) are unfortunately in the middle with little or no REAL information as to the state of our football program.

  7. Interesting points and observations, Linda. I had the chance to talk to a former UofL football player this afternoon out at Freedom Hall before the UofL/Austin Peay game. He played for Petrino and John L. and one of the things he noticed about Cardinal football this year is the lack of offensive ingenuity and way too much predictability.
    He was shocked that the team had taken such big steps backward in two short years, and attibuted it to a couple of different things…lack of talent and adjusting to a new coaching philosophy. He also said something that really hit home. Booing, whether it is directed at a coach, play call or for any reason, is very noticeable down on the sidelines and causes a lot of frustration amongst the players. He also felt that the Cards “gave up” early in the Rutgers game, especially on defense, because the lack of talented players left in the secondary due to injuries would allow Rutgers to be successful no matter how hard the front seven played. He mentioned tht guys like Smith and Petrino would ride a player unmercifully if they thought he had given up or thrown in the towel, but he didn’t sense the same urgency from what he had seen out of Kragthorpe. Interesting thoughts from a guy who had his share of success on the field for our Cards and was a pretty big fan favorite. He also said that the players do read the message boards, the blogs and so do the recruits.

  8. In regard to Sonja’s comments about K not being forceful with the players I would like to add two stories from last year which to me show he started very poorly with them (and sure hasn’t improved).

    In the final minutes of the surprisingly close MTSU game as the offense was struggling to run out the clock the defensive players were huddled behind the bench. A person I know was in the front row of the stands close enough to hear them. Were they discussing what to do if they had to go in and make a stop? No, they were deciding where to go and party that night after the game. Think that would have happened with John L. or BP?

    Secondly in early October before the season imploded a former UofL basketball star asked me what I thought of the football program. I said I started to worry way before the season started when I kept hearing the players say over and over that K was a “players’ coach.” I then said “Do you know what that told me?” and before I could continue he said “It says only one thing and that’s a lack of discipline!”

    That has showed up on the field (missed assignments, lining up incorrectly, making the same mistakes over and over) and with suspensions because he gave the players an inch and many of them took a mile.

    He is suited for coaching at a lower level such as the old 1-AA or division II and the sooner TJ realizes this the better off we are.

  9. Great posts by ALL, and it is nice to get out of the rivals and scout “sandboxes”, and talk with some REAL fans.

    Let me lay it out about Krag:

    Won 2005 Liberty Bowl

    Next season afterwards (2006), went 4-8 in the C-USA

    Then he gets a great job at Louisville Jan. 9th, 2007……

    2 3-star recruits for 2009, with one being a JUCO, with (3) JUCOs coming already.

    Look for double-digit JUCO numbers this season that I have predicted for a year. Quote me on that.

    I predicted 5-7 after I went to ALL 3 days of the open practices Aug. 5-7, and I hit it right on the mark, and was warning people about the UK game…..

    I thought that the new coaches along with English and Brohm might have made us fair a little better, but I was wrong in that aspect, due to I have great faith in English and Brohm, and was brimming with optimism.

    Krag destroys all.

    As far as not supporting, I ALWAYS support the kids we have, just like I did at the old Bat Cave (Cardinal Stadium), when we were playing football on a baseball field, playing like s**t with Cooper, and having to smell s**t (literally), from the fairgrounds……

    “Love Country ALWAYS,
    Love government when deserved”

    Mark Twian

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