I wrote most of this last year when Big 12 rumors were swirling and many people thought Louisville would be better off to remain as a "Big Fish" in a small pond. Alas, when the pond dried up, that mentality was no longer an option; but, I thought I'd rehash some of these thoughts on a day when we've found a more pristine waterway to swim in....
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 28 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 regularly in the first year, against the likes of Marshall.
- They said Louisville would never get into the ACC because of academics. "They" don't know much about us do they?
- Now they will say more about what we cannot do. They will say that our football program won't be able to make that step up in competition. Well, if memory serves, they said that when we joined the Big East.
How could these things happen? How does a small urban school, with virtually no budget, and no real interest in football go from the brink of extinction in the early 1980s to 4 points from playing for a National Championship in 2006? How does it go from playing on an Astro-turfed AAA baseball field, to seeing its players run out onto the field-turf 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, ummm, ......... 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 that 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. 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. The invite came, and we accepted.
As fans, we should all be excited that the next step is before 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 won't have what it takes to compete with a Florida State, Clemson, or Virginia Tech.
We have an athletic director that has been doing more with less for years; can you imagine what he will do with a bigger 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?
All just another challenge for this program 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.