Fourth quarter audible …

I’ll admit it, my concentration has been blown. There are 12 minutes left in U of L’s game against West Virginia. WVU leads 28-14. It has, believe it or not, been a very respectable effort by U of L given some really difficult circumstances, particularly by center Eric Wood, who is playing perhaps the best game by a U of L offensive lineman you’re ever going to see. Truly inspired football.

But in a quiet press box lull, I start to hear ESPN announcers David Pasch and Andre Ware talking about, and this is a direct quote, how U of L coach Steve Kragthorpe had to “rebuild from the ground up.”

Kragthorpe took over a team that was ranked anywhere from No. 8 to No. 10 in the nation. He had a Heisman Trophy candidate quarterback. He had a number of players who would go on to be NFL Draft picks. I’ve been over this before.

Let’s see if this sounds like a program that needed to be built from the ground up. On the day he hired Steve Kragthorpe, Jan. 9, 2007, U of L athletic director Tom Jurich gave his reason for moving so quickly.

“It was very important for me to continue to build on this momentum in this program and the continuity that is going on right now,” Jurich said.

A few days earlier, he said: “We’re going to move quickly hiring our next coach to keep our momentum going.”

Now, these aren’t the words of a “rebuilding from the ground up” situation. In fact, why continue momentum if the program is going in the wrong direction?

The summer before, on July 13, Jurich extended Petrino’s contract and said these things (click for audio, link corrected):

Bobby and I have one common goal, and that’s a national championship. We don’t take that very lightly. Are we there yet? Certainly not. Do we think we can get there? We do. This business is an arms race. And we want to continue. But I think a lot of people are starting to look at us as the king arm. Our facilities are in place. Our coaching staff is in place.

Our recruiting every year that Bobby has been here has gotten better and better and better. We’re on the top kids in the country. We’re landing some of the top kids in the country. But the great thing is it’s not who you’re landing, it’s what you do with them when you get here, and that’s where Bobby and his staff come into play. They develop them. They develop them into tremendous men and tremendous players.

He’s done a great job in the classroom. We continue to ascend in the classroom. He doesn’t just recruit good athletes, he puts character first. Knock on wood, because we are dealing with a bunch of teenagers here, but you very rarely read about our players in the wrong light in the newspaper or see it on the television, which is a complement to this program.

Now, I know that sometimes you praise your coach to boost your program. I know Jurich has said since that there were things going on then that he wasn’t aware of.

And frankly, I’ve written my opinion on this in a column and in general we try not to repeat ourselves once we’ve made our opinions clear. But whoever is prepping these national television commentators to go farther and farther in repainting the picture would be well-advised to stop.

I’m willing to accept that there were some internal issues that caused some problems and led to some attrition and transitional trouble. But this “rebuilding from the ground up” talk isn’t doing anyone any good.

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15 thoughts on “Fourth quarter audible …

  1. I disagree with that assessment as well. They should say he took over a program that had some issues and as a result, these issues are still affecting the team. I think Andre Ware said something about the former kicker being one of the guys that was either dismissed or left the program. Everyone knows that Art Carmody graduated last year.

  2. Eric,You have got to write the column! As we all know, this is info laid out by the Louisville S.I.D. I have no problem with the losses, yet I can not stand the excuses and the rewriting the history.

  3. Well said. It is foolish and inexcusable for Louisville to tear down its own distinguished alumni (Brohm, Douglas, Okoye, etc etc) and the entire program in a lame attempt to deflect blame from the current coach. It’s time to grow up and quit trashing everything that came before Kragthorpe and start trying to get back there!

  4. Eric,This is exactly what we have been discussing all year. It is time for you to make a statement as a columnist that you tell it like it is at the Courier and make this a column, not just a blog. Be our voice of so many fans to call this crap what it is- propaganda by the Aministration. Great article, look forward to more of it in a column and for you to call them on it like Pat Forde did when he was here. Great job.

  5. Eric-If you had any balls and were at all respectable to your profession, you would submit that column to the newspaper for publication.

  6. I was the one who posted earlier in the week on your blog about the great things Jurich said about Petrino when he extended his contract. I just don’t know what benefit Jurich sees in all of this blaming of Petrino. I know it provides a quick band-aid to cover Kragthorpe’s failures, but in the end, it does much more harm than good, both for him and the program. It’s almost like Jurich is discounting his own success. It’s by far the worst move Jurich has ever made as AD.Eric, I know you wrote a column back in October, but I think another one at the end of the season on this topic would be justified.

  7. The reality is, UofL’s football program is exactly where it always has been.Take a few years that were essentially a blip on the radar created by a perfect storm out of the picture, and this IS UofL football.Louisville basically had easy wins in an easy conference, a couple of homegrown Heisman caliber players that would have never considered Louisville if they weren’t from here, the ability to take countless non-qualifiers that major conferences didn’t allow, the pattern of taking very, very troubled players that other programs booted away, and the pattern of keeping troublemakers on the team (Woodard, Russell, etc.)I think we can all look forward to the days of high schoolers getting free tickets for perfect attendance, and 2 for 1 at Kroger. Because if Louisville football fans are anything, they are fair weather.

  8. Eric,Thank you very much for writing this. It has needed to be said by somebody in the media for a while now. *Please* build this into a full column. The propaganda coming from the athletic department is sickening.

  9. It’s about freakin’ time somebody said this, Eric. It drives me crazy listening to the ESPN commentators try to re-spin history. I don’t care if Kragthorpe’s a saint and Petrino had been a mustache twirling villain. The fact of the matter is that U of L was one bad half away from the national championship game, had a full roster of talent, national respect, and loads of momentum. Now they’re arguably worse than the days of Ron Cooper.

  10. WFW, Eric. WFW.And for those of you who calling on Eric to make this a column, what do you think a CJ.com blog post is? It is a column.Just because it’s not on paper doesn’t mean it’s not a column.Perhaps The C-J needs to do a better job of promoting its blogs.

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