The stage was set; every sports fan across the heartland had a television on Friday evening, salivating over the college basketball tipoff marathon and a stocked and impressive slew of NBA matchups. Louisville football had the prime advantage of being the only pigskin possibility and was taking the field against a team so bad, even their mammas don’t hug em.
Everything was in place for the Cardinals, Oregon had been dominated the previous evening, Teddy was back in the Heisman race, UofL was coming off a bye week and with an impressive victory the Cardinals could continue their climb towards an at large bid in the BCS. Instead of seizing an opportunity, the Cardinals chose once again to lay an egg on national TV in the most disappointing effort since; you guessed it, last season’s Connecticut game. Bad games happen, the season is long and teams are due for a letdown, but this town and these fans cannot overlook the absence of Cardinal Pride.
Charlie Strong is a good football coach, if he wasn’t, this program would have never turned around. However, much like John L. Smith, a healthy debate on whether he has the ability to take a team to the elite level, the Alabama level, the Ohio State atmosphere, the Florida State echelon is not unreasonable. In no particular order, the best coaches throughout the country include Nick Saban, Urban Meyer, Bobby Petrino, Gus Malzahn, Kevin Sumlin, Jimbo Fisher, Chris Petersen and Brian Kelly. Be honest with yourself and answer this simple poll question: Give any of those coaches the talent on Louisville’s roster with Louisville’s schedule, and choose the opponent that wouldn’t be begging for mercy at halftime? I am not calling for Charlie’s head, but Charlie is not excused from being held accountable. Coach Strong is the 10th highest paid coach in football at $3.7 million a year plus incentives, and of the coaches previously listed he is paid more than all of them, excusing Saban and Meyer.
Charlie Strong is great for Louisville football. He is respected nationwide by the media, he earns the love and trust of recruits everywhere and he has done a good job of turning around a program that is destined to be elite. Strong has spent an enormous amount of time here attempting to change the culture and grow the program. He has wrestled with some of Louisville’s most consistent and die hard traditions, urging the fans and players to become elite. It is a two way street Coach and we certainly ask the same of you and your team.
Watching the game last night was almost unbearable. For the 5th straight game there was no urgency on offense, no hunger, no desire in the coaching staff and a complete absence of focus. The defense is excused from this description, minus two possessions against UCONN and the unfathomable collapse against Central Florida. Teddy is similarly excused, the kid is a warrior, a work ethic worthy of Rick Pitino, but he has been let down all season by Shawn Watson and timely dropped passes.
Charlie is the boss, the face of this program, and he has to be able to make the hard decisions moving forward to continue the growth and success of this promising football program. There is no debate anymore. Shawn Watson is failing as offensive coordinator and is not the answer for this program in the ACC. Dave Borbely is certainly not getting the job done with the offensive line, a unit getting progressively worse. Special teams are an aspect of our football team showcasing the same issues consistently for four straight seasons. Charlie has spent his entire career on the sidelines of some of football’s most treasured schools. He has been on the staff of multiple hall of fame coaches. Charlie understands that being the head coach is not always rainbows and butterflies, but now is the time to act. If he is unwilling to make the tough, but right decisions, this team and this program is going to be stuck in neutral, and we will have to prepare ourselves for some average seasons in the ACC.
Like all of you reading this article, visiting this website on a daily basis and basking the glory that is the University of Louisville, I am a Louisville Cardinal and my support for this city, this school and these athletic programs is unwavering. As a fan, a former student and as a United States citizen, criticism and opinions are most certainly permitted. Wins will be treasured and glorified, losses will occur and grief will set in. But every week I will return, ready to believe in something greater than myself, ready to believe in a championship team. I carry my Cardinal Pride with me every day, everywhere I go, and it is an honor to be a part of something so special and unique. The football team needs a complete reevaluation, it starts with Charlie Strong and it must flow through the entire roster and staff. We can handle a loss, we will cherish the wins, but never again should we have to ask, where is the Cardinal Pride?
All Hail UofL!!