The following was written by former Louisville kicker and 2006 Lou Groza Award winner, Art Carmody
Thanks to everyone who read my first post. As the season goes on I hope to continue to post (as long as y'all will let me) and share my insights about my time as a Cardinal, and about different storylines as the 2010 season progresses. Although now that he is in law school I am contractually obligated to write about whatever Mike Rutherford tells me to. They learn quickly in law school.
This is my second Card Chronicle installment, and this time I wanted to give my opinion on Kentucky.
First off, I just want to state that I have nothing against the University of Kentucky. Many of the good friends I made while at U of L were students of higher learning in Lexington. My good buddy Ryan Tydlacka (brother of former Louisville punter Wade) goes there. For most of the calendar year (outside of a couple of weeks in March), I really have no problem with them.
And then August rolls around and all of the sudden I loathe them with a passion.
When I stepped on campus in August of 2003, all I knew was that Louisville and Kentucky were big rivals. I thought it was just another college football rivalry. I quickly learned that it didn’t matter what sport we were playing, whether it was basketball or ping-pong, if Kentucky was across the opponent I wanted to beat them. It was slowly ingrained in my brain that a K surrounded by blue needed be attacked.
During my years as a Cardinal, the Kentucky game produced many great memories (Michael Bush running all over the place, Elvis Dumervil introducing himself to the nation in 2005, Kerry Rhodes' pick six in 2004, Petrino taking a knee, hoisting the Governor's Cup) and also a few not so great (Stevie Johnson wide, and I mean wide open; Myron Pryor rumbling 72 yards in 2008, losing the Governor’s Cup in 2007, not getting it back the last two years, and one broken leg).
One quick note before I move on to the real reason I am writing this: When I think of the UK series I always remember one of my more embarrassing moments on the field. Kickers always remember the misses. This one came against Kentucky in 2005. Right before halftime I shanked a 21-yard field goal to the right and then had to endure both the UK fans that day and Coach Petrino the next week at practice.
For those not familiar with our practices, we would always end the day with our PAT/FG team. It was always at the end and it almost always started with a PAT. However, on the Tuesday following the game, Coach decided to change it up a bit. After our stretch period he blew the whistle and yelled out, "PAT/FG!!! Ball on the four-yard line, right hash!!!"
I then kicked about fifteen 21-yard field goals in a row. After the fifteenth field goal sailed through the uprights he pulled me aside and "politely" told me I would "never miss a f*%&ing field goal like that ever again." Thanks, Kentucky.
Anyways, in 2006 we had the mindset that we were not going to lose. It was all going to start with UK and it was all we talked about the entire summer. It was part of the "Finish" motto that we rallied around. We knew that the year before we had not played well in the second half and had let them back in the game, and we were determined to not let something like that happen again.
The expectations we set were high, but that was the level our coaching staff and we as players wanted to reach. We returned two of the best players in the country in Brian Brohm and Michael Bush. Brian and Michael had worked hard all summer and had set themselves up for monster years. I still remember picking them up at the airport from the Big East media days and the confidence they had in our season. It wasn’t arrogance, it was a quiet confidence and knowledge that when we played Cardinal football there wasn’t a team that could beat us.
The game against UK was a mismatch, as we absolutely owned them in all facets. Brian had marched us up and down the field and Michael had run all over the Wildcats and was showing the kind of special talent that he is. It was a shame that his Louisville career had to end the way it did with the broken leg. It is one of the biggest reasons why I still can’t stand Kentucky. One of my favorite pictures was the one where Michael is running and all the Wildcats are chasing him. I had that as the wallpaper on my computer for a while. I have enjoyed watching him have success in the NFL just as much as I enjoyed watching him electrify the fans and myself inside Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Despite the injury, that game was the spring-board for an amazing year. It all started with the Wildcats.
That rambling leads me up to this point. Since that 2006 game there really hasn’t been an excitement surrounding the Kentucky game. Expectations have been down and the fans have been upset. But the new regime has changed things. Coach Strong has re-energized the program, and the expectations and excitement are back where they need to be. There is that quiet confidence again. This team top to bottom may not be as talented as 2006, but I am excited about my guys in red and seeing them have the chance to get after the Wildcats.
I've never been great at forecasting the outcomes of games, but I'm still willing to offer up the following prediction: Come Saturday night in Louisville I am confident there will be a certain trophy back where it belongs.