A great day for a game, a 3:30 p.m. kickoff, temperatures in the low seventies, a kettle of shrimp boil on the burner, tailgaters all in, stuffing themselves, taking turns downing shots, celebrating football, friendships  and the beginning of the fall season.

Harry Douglas, former University of Louisville star and Atlanta Falcon great, showing up for the tailgate, having such a good time, deciding to hang out for quite a while. Clearly enjoying the adulation of UofL fans, entertaining them with his exuberance and outgoing personality.

What could go wrong?

Harry Douglas, former UofL and Atlanta Falcon great, and The Observer team up during tailgating prior to the Florida State game.

The Louisville football team on the verge of defeating Florida State for an unprecedented third straight time in three seasons. Having discovered an offense, with an actual ground game, quarterback Puma Pass his throwing eye, passing for more than 300 yards. UofL leading by 10 points going into the fourth quarter.

Late fourth quarter, marching the ball down the field, the clock winding down to 1:56, the Cardinals with a first down on the Seminoles’ 21 yard line. Easy does it, keep the ball inbounds, grind it out on the ground, run the clock out, protect that fragile three-point lead. Just run out the clock.

Whoops, can one believe what one just saw, Coach Bobby Petrino going gonzo, gambling with the ball, putting it in the air. Puma Pass throwing his first interception of the game, giving the ball to Florida State.

Five plays later, a disbelieving crowd of 52,798 people at Cardinal Stadium groans as FSU quarterback Deondre Francois connects on a 58-yard pass play with Nyqwan Murray. Touchdown. Giving Florida State a 28-24 lead.

Not quite over, a minute, 13 seconds remaining on the clock. Still a chance. No how, no way, the misery was back. Puma Pass with no choice but to go to the air again, Hail Mary time for sure. Like there was a chance for Hollywood ending.

Puma Pass throwing the deep but no Louisville uniform anywhere in the neighborhood, nowhere to be seen actually. A jubilant Florida State pulling in another interception, celebrating what it probably considers the first step on the way back to college football’s elite. Dream on, guys, still a long way to go.

Bobby Petrino after the game admitting again he had made an error in judgement. Probably wanting to reclaim his offensive genius stature, not wanting to play any safe, going for the kill. Another questionable decision backfiring on him, this one a blatant miscalculation, raising serious questions about his decision making. A perfect day taking a bad turn, making one a little leery for the immediate future of Louisville football.

“I look back at it, obviously, and I guess I should have just ran the ball,” he said at the post-game press conference.

Even Bobby second-guessing Bobby.

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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.

5 thoughts on “Petrino chooses not to play safe, and the slide continues”
  1. That final 1:50…a punch right in the gut to Cardinal fans. Even the most inexperienced grade school football coach knows you protect a lead late by using clock, staying on the ground and letting time run out.

    All, except for arrogant Bobby. Biggest blunder of the season. Shocked, disappointed, bewildered and angry Cardinal fans streaming out of Cardinal Stadium.

    A perfect afternoon ruined.

    Long discussions with the populace in the House of Cards after the action ended. Talking with one couple who left with three minutes to go. Confused by the groans coming out of the stadium as they crossed Floyd Street. Finding out a few minutes later of the Napoleonic blunder.

    The season will go on. But, few that were there last night will forget those last two minutes.

    Walking out, confused and bitter…I ran into a group of FSU fans celebrating in front of the East Entrance. I congratulated them.

    You play for 60 minutes. FSU did.


    1. The only coach I remembered, who made dolls like that were Ron Cooper. Now to justify this statement. I have attended Louisville football games since 1971. I have been a donor and season ticket holder since 1976. Bobby Ball 2.0 is taking our program backwards. Charlie Strong left him a Top 25 ranked program. As of today we are 2-3 and not ranked in the Top 25. ESPN and The Sagarin Power ratings have as 73rd. How long will we allow this to continue?

  2. When Coach Petrino took over the team from Charlie Strong we were considered a Top 25 Football Program. As of right now in week 5 of the 5th year of Bobby Ball 2.0, we are 2-3 and not ranked in the Top 25. As of today both ESPN and Jeff Sagarin have us ranked 73rd in thier Football Power rankings. Our team is not being coached properly and our recruiting is horrible. How long can this continue?

    1. I’m thinking most of us are still in shock and disbelief that things are going so far south under a football coach that Tom Jurich said was the best football coach in America. Petrino owes it to Tom to strive for those expectations.

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