Squaring off against Alabama in the opening game of the 2018 college football season brings back rich memories of UofL’s last game against the Crimson Tide in 1991. A New Year’s Day nationally-televised appearance in the Fiesta Bowl.

Howard Schnellenberger had four weeks to prepare for Alabama.

Easily the biggest game in UofL football history at the time, Alabama was a prohibitive favorite,expected to easily roll over Louisville. The fact that UofL Coach Howard Schnellenberger had almost a month to prepare for Alabama was lost on the sports media, along with Louisville’s 9-1-1 record that season.

Three days before the game, I had forked over big bucks for a huge console TV, with a 48-inch screen, encased in a walnut cabinet. State of the art, it would be main attraction in the basement. I couldn’t wait for it to be delivered the night before the big game.

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The call came from Smith’s Furniture that they were on the way. I figured it would take a while for them to get there so I dashed out to a video store to rent a movie. I returned home, video cassette in hand, eager to get acquainted.

But to my shock, sitting smack dab in the center of the family room sat the big new TV.  Where the guys from Smith’s Furniture had left it, having convinced my wife it was too big to go downstairs to the basement. Wouldn’t be able to get around the corner into the basement. they told her. Lots of company coming by the next day for the Fiesta Bowl party.

Panic time. Calls to Smith’s Furniture were to no avail, they were already closed for the holiday. I told Barbara the TV was going to get to the basement if I had to start cutting holes in ceilings and walls.

Desperate, I called Joe, our next door neighbor, and he called another neighbor. Three anxious and perspiring individuals, refusing to accept failure, were slowly and cautiously able to get it down the steps and around the corner. Finally, there it was –a monument to persistence and fanaticism.

The next day came a football game-watching party that will never be equalled. Browning Nagle completing a 70-yard pass for a touchdown to Latrell Ware, Ralph Dawkins scoring on a five-yard run, a 37-yard pass to Anthony Cummings for another TD, and a UofL recovery of a fumble in the Alabama end zone. UofL was up 25-0 after the first quarter. The Cardinals would win the game, 34-7, shocking the world of college football.

The TV was in the basement for about eight years before getting handed  down to Steve. I wasn’t there when he arrived with friends so I’ll never know how he got it out of the house. “Leverage, dad,” he said. “Simple leverage.”

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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.

2 thoughts on “Remember When: Alabama-Louisville — the first game on the big screen TV”
  1. Panic time indeed. I had never seen Charlie so mad as that night. I am convinced that had it actually come to cutting holes in ceilings and walls, and if I had happened to be standing in the way, I would have had holes cut into me. Thankfully, by NOT using a dolly, which the furniture delivery men had tried to use, and by taking the handrail off the wall (!), the three “heroes” prevailed. Tremendous debt of gratitude to our two friends who probably saved our weekend. Not to mention a lawsuit. Go Cards!

  2. Charlie,
    I have been around football for a lot of years and I have seen upsets when teams were given no chance at victory.I agree with you that barring a total collapse in the first half UofL will give Alabama a closer game than predicted.The key to this game is the play of our outside linebackers,they have to grow up in a hurry.

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