One of the reoccurring themes I've heard/seen from Cardinal fans, on the radio and the interwebs, since the rumors of Louisville to the big 12 became lukewarm, is that Louisville can't compete in the Big12. I've heard fans say that we'll never win a Big12 Championship; and, that the best we could ever hope for there is a third place finish behind Texas and Oklahoma. I've even heard/ seen fans say that they'd rather stay in CUSA-2.0 and be a big fish in a small pond. To those Louisville fans I say this: you'll be denying those statements like Saint Peter in a few years when we win the Big12. The history of this program tells me so.
The history of this football program is not one steeped in National Championships or New Years Day bowl glory. It is a program that was, by all accounts, almost eliminated from the Athletic Department entirely. There,.... right there within that little factoid that every Cardinal Football fan knows, lies the true essence of what Cardinal Football has been about for the better part of 27 years. Not only proving the doubters wrong, but rubbing their noses in it like a dog that just peed on the carpet. Generally speaking, "they" say a lot, and in the case of Louisville Football "they" have been saying a lot for a long time.
- They said a small urban school couldn't support a major college football program. Wrong
- In 1985 they said that Howard Schnellenberger would never come to a school that hadn't had a winning season since 1978. Incorrect.
- They said that the Pipe would never build anything here playing in a baseball stadium, with such a small budget. False
- They said Louisville would never attract the kind of players needed to be Nationally respected with such horrible facilities. Erroneous.
- They said Louisville would never get to a New Years Day Bowl, or finish in the Top25,.. 34-7 in the Fiesta Bowl over Bama, #11 in the AP. Miscalculated.
- They said Louisville would never be able to beat a team like Texas, ..... 41-10. Counter-factual.
- They said Louisville would never be able to beat Michigan State in the Liberty Bowl,... 18-7. Do we see a pattern developing here?
- They said Louisville would never be able to Build a new Stadium without state money from all the UK fans in Frankfort. Suck it Frankfort,.... they were dead wrong.
- They said Louisville didn't have the swagger to make Miami pay for jumping on the bird. Cold Chills
- They said Louisville would never finish in the top 10 on a CUSA budget. AP#6 in 2004. Juuuust a bit outside.
- They said Louisville would take a step back when they made the jump to the Big East. Won the league in year #2 and finished #6 in the AP,..... Wrong,... so wrong.
- They said Louisville was crazy to expand to 55,000 seats and that they would never fill it. Filled it last week,.... against Marshall.
How could these things happen? How could a small urban school with virtually no budget, and no real interest in football, go from the brink of extinction to 4 points from playing for a National Championship. From playing on an Astro-turfed AAA baseball field to running out onto the grass of a 55,000 seat, state of the art stadium? Vision,.... vision and the balls to make it happen that's how.
Howard Schnellenberger had the vision to see the potential here for something great, and he had the balls to say so in his opening press conference by declaring that we were on a......... you know. In that moment he set the tone for this program. He set the tone for the fans, the alumni, the boosters, and anyone who wanted to be there when the collision happened. He set us upon that course because he had a vision of what this program could be and he wasn't scared to tell anyone who would listen, or schedule anyone who wanted to play.
This program did not get to where it is today by digging in and hoping for the best wherever we happened to be at that time. This program got to where it is by thinking progressively, by always looking for the next step, and then not being afraid to take it. The Big East has been good to Louisville; but, this league has been dreadful since 2007 (primarily because the best coaches left for what they thought were better jobs), and now it is falling apart right before our very eyes. Should the invite come (fingers crossed) then Louisville will accept, for reasons that are far too many to enumerate.
As fans, we should all be excited when that next step is upon us. It will be the next step in what has been a long process of building towards something great. We should not fear that we don't have what it will take to compete with a Texas or Oklahoma. We have an athletic director that has been doing more with less for years; can you imagine what he will do with a Big12 budget? We have a coach who is already recruiting at a high level; can you imagine what he will do when there are 3-4 ranked teams on the schedule every year? This is just another challenge to rise to, another task that they will say we cannot accomplish. What the hell do they know anyway? Obviously not a lot when it comes to Louisville Football.