The Year Of The Cardinal Through The Eyes Of Card Chronicle

USA TODAY Sports

It's the week after the Fourth of July - summer's unofficial midpoint - which means it's officially time for the transition from last season reflection to next season excitement. But before we do that, I feel like Louisville's 2012-13 athletic season deserves (if not demands) one more giant send-off around these parts.

Having said that, here's a timeline of the Year of the Cardinal as seen through the eyes (and words) of Card Chronicle.

Aug. 22, 2012

With the football season-opener against Kentucky just nine days away, we openly discuss the possibility that the start of something fantastic might be just around the bend.

Last Saturday, we found out that Louisville will enter a football season nationally ranked for the first time in five years. The Cardinals are also the preseason pick to win the Big East and play in a BCS bowl game for the first time since Jan. 2, 2007. A favorable schedule and a budding superstar at quarterback have more than a handful of prognosticators placing double-digit wins next to U of L's name.

This is exciting.

Returning several key cogs from a Final Four squad, the Cardinal basketball team figures to begin the 2012-13 season ranked first, second or third in both of the two major national polls. Anything lower would be borderline shocking. Given the apparent strength of the team and a national landscape which doesn't appear overly daunting, the notion that this is Louisville's best shot at winning a national title since the Cards last achieved the feat in 1986 is difficult to disagree with.

This is also exciting.

With the accuracy of the previous four paragraphs taken into account, the fact remains that it is significantly more likely that the Cardinal football team won't win the Big East and the basketball team will fall short of the national title than it is that both those teams will achieve those stated goals.

But it's possible. It's more possible right now that it has been in any August prior to this one.

Isn't that cool to think about?

It was even more cool to experience.

Sept. 2, 2012

The Year of the Cardinal (and the Year of the Ted) is officially underway with a 32-14 stomping of Kentucky in front of a record crowd at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.


I think they had their eyes closed.

Sept. 7, 2012

World, meet the Card Chronicle Bird Mask.

Sept. 15, 2012

Louisville looks like the best and worst football team in the country all in one afternoon, ultimately holding on to beat North Carolina thanks in large part to Andrew Johnson's endzone heroics.

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Sept. 17, 2012

Chris Jones, the likely heir apparent to Peyton Siva at the point guard position, commits to Louisville.

Sept. 19, 2012

The mystery of what's in Teddy Bridgewater's sock begins. It's solved weeks later when a New York Times (always leaching off CC) profile reveals that it's actually bubble gum.

Sept. 24, 2012

SB Nation unveils its new network-wide site redesign, which means big changes for Card Chronicle. Everyone takes it in stride and there are no complaints.

Sept. 28, 2012

As I pull in to the rehearsal dinner for my little sister's dinner, I receive word that Mike Marra has torn his ACL during his first practice back, and that his playing career is likely over.

Oct. 8, 2012

The Louisville basketball team gives a sign of the off-the-court glory to come by celebrating Mangok Mathiang's birthday at Lazer Blaze.

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Oct. 12, 2012

The tip-off luncheon provides even more evidence, and we break down the top 15 quotes from the event.

3. "My whole thing is as long as Tom Jurich is here I want to coach here. But I always say this: As long as I can get in at 6:30 in the morning, coach every individual instruction, coach in the afternoon, coach the games with still the same passion, that's really my contract. It's not anything other than that. It's all based on health and emotionally feeling good. And I will say that I feel better than I've ever felt in my life." --Rick Pitino

2. "The next guy that I'm bringing up is probably the fattest, sloppiest kid that ever put on a Louisville jersey who was a McDonald's All-American. He got hurt a lot last year, but he should be doing some big things this year. Here comes Wayne Blackshear" --Kevin Ware

1. "Pitbull is my favorite. He was 305, now he's worldwide...so I'm glad to see he's come a long way since then." --Rick Pitino on the music he listens to while driving to work

Oct. 14, 2012

The Louisville football team makes its first appearance in the BCS rankings since 2006.

Oct. 17, 2012

The Louisville basketball team will begin the season ranked No. 2, behind only Indiana. The Cards are also picked as the favorites to win the Big East, where Peyton Siva is the preseason Player of the Year.

Oct. 20, 2012

We were terrified of the South Florida game and justifiably so, as Louisville squeaks out a 27-25 victory thanks to Teddy Bridgewater's late-game heroics. The Cards are 7-0 but still not getting any top 10 love from the pollsters.

Oct. 26, 2012

Despite Munchie Legaux's brazen claims earlier in the week, the Keg of Nails finally returns to Louisville after the Cardinals win a thriller in one of the best environments PJCS has ever seen.

Friday night was an earned moment for Louisville football fans.

The embarrassing losses of the past five seasons, the depressing walks out of the stadium, the constant ribbings from rival fans, the steady talk of a once promising program imploding; it all felt worth it on this night.

The use of rain to signify the "washing away" of a past life or some other self-metamorphosis is one of my least favorite cinematic or literary clichés, but I'll let it slide if anyone wants to utilize it when talking about the win over Cincinnati. For a number of reasons, the cold and the wet almost made the evening feel more right.

Regardless of what happens the rest of the season, Friday night was the best it's felt being a diehard Cardinal football fan in a long, long time. That's something that can't be taken away.

Because of what happened in the subsequent months, it's easy to forget just how much this night meant at the time.

Oct. 30, 2012

Rick Pitino agrees to a contract extension that will keep him at Louisville through the 2021-2022 season.

Oct. 31, 2012

Card Chronicle does Halloween bigger than it's ever done it before.

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Nov. 5, 2012

It's early November and Louisville has already done more than most programs will accomplish over the course of the entire season.

Nov. 9, 2012

It's the start of something beautiful, and so we begin with an appropriate toast.

If you're reading this, you probably spend as much time reading about U of L basketball, thinking about U of L basketball, going to U of L basketball games or watching them from your home as I do. When you're willing to devote that much of yourself to something, to anything, phrases like "it's just a game" fall pretty flat.

Later today, the 2012-13 college basketball season will begin. In two days, the Louisville Cardinals will play their first official game of the year. They will begin the season attached with a No. 2 ranking and a widespread belief that this is the best chance they've had to win a national championship since 1986.

We all have the same hope for this new season's eventual conclusion, and if that happens all of us have a basic understanding of the glorious consequences.

People like me will finally know what it feels like to see the Cardinals win a national title, another group of folks will receive the revival of a joy they haven't felt since the '80s, and a group of players we've already grown to know and love will cement their status as a team that will be remembered forever. But that synopsis wouldn't come close to telling the whole story in this hypothetical, and it doesn't come close to explaining why the prospects of the months ahead have us all feeling like Rudy's dad walking into Notre Dame Stadium for the first time.

Between now and (hopefully) April 8, we're all going to lose ourselves a little bit. I think that's wonderful.

Nov. 10, 2012

The football Cards' dream season ends in Syracuse. Louisville ultimately falls to 19th in the BCS standings and loes its stranglehold on the Big East title.

Nov. 12, 2012

Salt is tossed in the proverbial open wound when word comes that Senorise Perry is done for the year with a torn ACL.

Nov. 19, 2012

Just as we've adequately talked ourselves into being comfortable with the new Big East, Rutgers and Maryland announce that they're headed to the Big Ten. The wheels start turning.

Nov. 21, 2012

Times Square pays tribute to the Louisville volleyball team after the Cards claim yet another Big East championship.

Nov. 23, 2012

On Senior Day, CC bids farewell to the sunniest quarterback we've ever known and ever will know.

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Nov. 24, 2012

Black Saturday.

Teddy Bridgewater injures his wrist and his ankle, we learn that Gorgui Dieng is out indefinitely with a fractured wrist he suffered the night before, the U of L football team loses a shocker to Connecticut and the U of L basketball team loses to Duke in the Battle 4 Atlantis championship game.

Even though this was as bad as it would get for Louisville fans, we still heard the line: "Russ Smith and Peyton Siva walked off that court like there's no way they'll be losing another tournament game this season."

They didn't.

Nov. 25, 2012

The Louisville men's soccer team is headed to the NCAA Tournament's Elite 8 for a remarkable third straight season.

Nov. 27, 2012

Reports surface that Louisville is a mere one vote shy of gaining approval for admission to the ACC. The story continues to develop throughout the night.

Nov. 28, 2012

Maybe the best front page in the history of the site.

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And without question the best comment section in the history of CC.

A slight damper is put on the party as reports surface that Charlie Strong has interviewed at Auburn. The music is turned back up when Strong swiftly debunks the rumor.

There's a lot going on.

Nov. 29, 2012

A one-armed, one-legged Teddy Bridgewater doesn't start but leads Louisville past Rutgers and into the BCS in one of the more emotional games in the history of Cardinal sports.


We also get a nice mic drop by correctly predicting the final score.

Nov. 30, 2012

The enormity of what has taken place over the past 48 hours begins to set in.

This is a 48 hour stretch that we will be discussing for...well forever, really.

A day after the Atlantic Coast Conference voted to add Louisville as its newest member, the Cardinal football team pulled off one of the more improbable second half comebacks in the program's history.

On the surface, it doesn't look like "improbable" really fits in the previous sentence. Rutgers was only a three-point favorite in last night's game, and a 14-3 halftime lead can never accurately be described as insurmountable. Still, anyone who watched the game's opening two quarters can tell you how bleak things looked for the visitors.

Louisville's best and most important player didn't see the field in the first quarter, but tried to give it a go in the second on one leg and with one arm. Predictably, the Cardinal offense did not shine. The U of L defense fared slightly better against the far-from-formidable Rutgers offense, but a few missed tackles on two huge plays allowed the Scarlet Knights to seize a two score lead.

Fourteen to three felt like fifty-five to three.

What followed was...well I'm still not really sure what it was, other than incredible.

Dec. 1, 2012

The men's soccer team's season ends one game short of the College Cup.

Dec. 2, 2012

After several days of speculation and number-crunching, it becomes official that Louisville will face Florida in the AllState Sugar Bowl.

The opportunity sparks concern, when it should be sparking excitement.

Now I've already seen and heard a lot of concern over Louisville being able to hang with the Gators, which I must admit surprises me. Is Florida really good? Yep. Is Florida better than Florida State? Yeah, I think they are. But this is the type of opportunity that a program like U of L dreams about. A top five SEC opponent, a BCS bowl they've never played in, a day where they're the only game in the country; when you have this type of shot, you take it.

Louisville has opened as a 16.5-point underdog against a team that would be playing in a national semifinal if this were 2014, which to me is a big part of the allure here. U of L's Orange Bowl win over Wake Forest, while huge for the program, was (at that time) the least-watched BCS game ever. The win was also met with a sort of "meh" response nationally. You won't have to worry about a lack of attention going up against one of the biggest programs in college football, and obviously a win over Florida wouldn't be shrugged off by anyone (outside of Lexington).

Win this game and you probably finish right around No. 10, which is also where you'll probably begin the 2013 season. Keep the game competitive and you're still finishing the year with a national ranking and setting yourself up for a solid starting slot next year.

And then there's Teddy Bridgewater, who can position himself as a preseason top five Heisman Trophy candidate with a solid performance against the No. 1 pass defense in the country. Having an individual player with that type of summer buzz would be a tremendous blessing for the program as a whole.

This is the type of opportunity Louisville football fans have been clamoring for since, well, since I've been following Louisville football. They don't come around very often, and it's on our guys to make sure they take full advantage.

I have a hunch they will.

Also, Gorgui.

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Dec. 3, 2012

Charlie Strong's Sugar Bowl press conference raises concern when he won't say for sure whether or not he's going to stay at Louisville. He also makes the misstep of publicly wishing that U of L fans would have the "same passion" as Big Blue Nation.

The cycle of debate and unrest begins.

The situation as it stands is a nasty merry-go-round that plagues at least one college football program around this time every year.

Strong wants Louisville fans to focus on the games and support the team. Louisville fans want Strong to say definitively that he's not going anywhere else. Strong doesn't want to be backed into that type of corner. Reporters have to address the situationthat readers are most interested in. Strong wants the stories and the rumors to go away. The only way for the stories and the rumors to go away is a definitive statement.

Anything short of "I love Louisville and I will 100% be the coach here next year" is going to leave Cardinal fans with hurt feelings, and that's understandable. But Strong doesn't want to risk earning the Petrino-esque reputation of being a liar when he's not even fully sure what opportunities might be out there for him, and that's also understandable.

Dec. 5, 2012

After about 24 hours of hearing that Strong to Tennessee was a "done deal," Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel reports that Charlie has stiff-armed the Volunteers and will be staying at U of L.

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I didn't screen cap the "He's Staying" cover of CC from this day, and I really regret it.

Dec. 6, 2012

My enthusiasm and heart are with the University of Louisville


Dec. 12, 2012

The night Teddy wore the mask.

"Do not applaud me. It is not I who speaks to you, but history which speaks through (Teddy Bridgewater) --Fustel de Coulanges/Mike Rutherford

Every so often, a moment comes along that you don't have the words for. It trumps the collection of your past experiences and laughs hysterically at the mere thought of you attempting to capture it.

Such is a situation like the one we all face tonight, the night...Teddy Bridgewater wore the Card Chronicle Bird Mask.

LoZo also supports the movement.

Dec. 15, 2012

Hey, we beat Memphis in basketball again.

Dec. 18, 2012

"Russ on the Shelf" goes from casual living room conversation, to CC material, to photoshopped to referenced in Sports Illustrated in record time.

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Dec. 20, 2012

Crum's Revenge makes sure everyone is ready for the Sugar Bowl.


Dec. 26, 2012

It's rivalry week, as a city prepares to square off against a nation.

Dec. 29, 2012

Louisville beats Kentucky in the game of basketball.

Eight weeks of play has proven beyond the shadow of doubt what we all hoped was going to be the case before this season: the Louisville Cardinals are fully capable of winning the national championship. That should be this team's primary focus, and with the Kentucky game over and conquered, there's now no question that it's going to be.

We all know how insufferable Kentucky fans would have been had Louisville lost a fifth straight game to their hated rivals on Saturday. While I don't think the players hear nearly as much of the "off-the-court talk" as fans believe they do, they do hear some, and there's no doubt that at least some of that "you can't beat UK" chatter (from their fans AND ours) would have made its to way to their ears.

For us as fans, beating Kentucky was about holding the upper hand in the perpetual war of words and being able to maintain some sanity. For the team it was about avoiding an unnecessary distraction on the road to a larger goal.

The Louisville/Kentucky game is always somewhat of an outlier, not necessarily because the best team doesn't always win (more times than not they do), but because the atmosphere, the way it's played and the way it's called is so different than any other game that either team plays all season. The fans behave differently, the players do things they ordinarily wouldn't, and I do think the officials call the game differently. Still, because of the amount of attention given to the game by the fans and the media, the importance of winning can't simply be tossed aside, especially when you're in a situation like the one the Cardinals were in on Saturday.

Again, I'm glad it's over, and I'm glad we won.

Dec. 31, 2012

Tom Jurich is your 2012 Card Chronicle Man of the Year, joining Charlie Strong as the only two-time honoree.

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Jan. 2, 2013

In the biggest upset (point spread wise) in the history of the BCS, Louisville shocks No. 3 Florida.

I don't even know where to begin.

I suppose I could begin by saying that Louisville's win over Florida is the biggest upset in the history of the BCS in terms of both point spread and the disparity between the rankings of the two teams involved.

I suppose I could begin by talking about Teddy Bridgewater and how, despite taking an unbelievably vicious shot on the first play of the game, he hung in there and proved on the biggest of stages that he was the best player on the field.

I suppose I could begin by talking about Charlie Strong, Shawn Watson and the rest of the coaching staff, who devised a brilliant game plan to help pull off the biggest win in the history of the Louisville football.

And I suppose I could begin by talking about the fans, who responded to criticism last month by almost making the Sugar Bowl feel like a home game for U of L, an edge the heavy underdogs desperately needed.

When it comes down to it, however, this was a night where everyone deserved the lede. This is arguably the most special night in the history of Louisville football, and it belongs to everyone involved equally. I hope you're celebrating accordingly.

Jan. 5, 2013

James Quick, the most highly-sought after local recruit in nearly a decade, commits to Louisville on the same day that he's named MVP of the Army All-American Bowl.

Jan. 7, 2013

Carolina Cardinal brings home the award for most CC comments in 2012.

Jan. 10, 2013

We reflect on six weeks of glory.

Whatever their reasons, Louisville fans made the not-so-cheap trip to New Orleans in record numbers for the second time in eight months. Their presence was so great that Strong declared them the game MVP during the post-game celebration. It was a perfect moment. So perfect that if it was a bad horror movie, nobody watching would have flinched when the presumed dead Florida Gator shot open his eyes and made his final lunge at the Sugar Bowl trophy.

As sweet as the moment is, wild dreams - realistic or not - about the future always tend to be sweeter. The inevitable big thinking that Cardinal fans will engage in over the next eight months is justified, as Louisville returns 18 starters, including Bridgewater, from its Sugar Bowl championship squad. Oh yeah, and Strong also just received a verbal commitment from one of the top high school players the city of Louisville has ever produced, Trinity wide receiver James Quick.

If this isn't nice, I don't know what is.

Jan. 14, 2013

For the first time in program history, the Louisville basketball team earns a No. 1 ranking during the regular season.

Jan 23, 2013

Charlie Strong signs a new 8-year deal.

Jan. 26, 2013

A loss at Georgetown is Louisville's third straight, and people are freaking out just a little bit.

Jan. 27, 2013

Terry Rozier provides a lift in the midst of the losing streak as he comes to town and drops 68 points at the Louisville HoopFest.

Jan. 28, 2013

Wayne Blackshear is hurt and Kevin Ware is suspended, but Louisville snaps its losing streak with a home win over Pitt.

Feb. 6, 2013

It finally happens. Big Blue Nation finally goes too far.

All that being said, there are certain transgressions which simply cannot be brushed aside, for doing so both weakens and retards the progress of all mankind.

One such occurrence took place Tuesday night inside Rupp Arena. Now what you're about to see is going to give rise to a host of emotions that you may not have even known existed. I ask that you brace yourself as best you can...

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No...hell no.

You can't just mascot mask swagger jack and expect nothing to happen in retaliation.

First of all, that piece of sh-t looks like a combination of a squirrel and one of those dancing hamsters from the Kia commercial, not a Wildcat. Second, is there a Kentucky sports website whose original logo came anywhere close to resembling that mask? I don't think so. So basically you're just looking like a dancing hamster/squirrel freakshow for no good reason.

Feb. 10, 2013

I get up early and drive to South Bend for Louisville's College GameDay showdown with Notre Dame.I later wish I hadn't.

Feb. 14, 2013

Following U of L's five-overtime loss to the Fighting Irish, Rick Pitino makes winning seven straight games before the final Big East Tournament his team's new goal.

Feb. 15, 2013

"What the hell are you doing?"


Feb. 16, 2013

Teddy Bridgewater has a key to your house.

Feb. 26, 2013

Cardinal fans get their first glimpse at the postseason jerseys that will become legendary. They're not thrilled, but optimistic for the same tournament glory the infra-reds provided.

Feb. 27, 2013

The greatest (and final) DePaul Day of all-time takes place.

Memorable postgame quote: Russ Smith after the game on the big U of L crowd:"Yeah it is DePaul Day so the fans came out and supported us... We always thank the fans"

But most of all, DePaul Day was great because of the 'Cloids. Here's just some of the stuff that was produced today (apologies in advance to all the works of art I missed):

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Legitimately tearing up.

March 2, 2013

Louisville is an underdog for the first time all season but starts March on the right foot with a big win at Syracuse thanks in large part to a cold-blooded late three-pointer from Luke Hancock. It's probably the only big shot he'll make over the course of the next six weeks.

March 5, 2013

The CCBM spends some QT with the Big Monday crew.

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March 9, 2013

It's Senior Day, and teary-eyed Cardinal fans across the Derby City bid farewell to Mike Marra, Peyton Siva and Gorgui Dieng. The team celebrates in style by getting revenge on Notre Dame, earning a share of the Big East regular season title and getting leid afterward.

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March 12, 2013

The Big East's last dance begins in New York.

After this week, the band breaks up for good.

A conference tournament will be held inside Madison Square Garden again next year, but a familiar setting paired with some of the old names on the fronts of jerseys won't be enough to make it the same, or make it make sense

Six overtimes. Thabeet v. Blair. Gerry McNamara. "Ten f---ing games." DaSean Butler. Foye, Ray, Lowry and Nardi. Higgins and Burr checking out early. Terrence Williams. Roy Hibbert. Kemba Walker's cross. Jonny Flynn's endurance. Allen ray's eyeball. Pitt's refusal to die before the title game. Five games in five days. Boeheim, Calhoun, Pitino,Thompson, Dixon and Wright.

Our future selves will mention these names and phrases, and fellow passengers on this ride will see the same images and be struck by the same feelings. The old rivalries, the new rivalries, the night in, night out grind, the joy and fear of knowing there was always another top 15 opponent right around the corner.

The Big East has been a basketball conference first and foremost since its inception. It's the reason moves made with a lack of concern for basketball leading to the league's partial break-up was such a tough-to-stomach sequence of events for so many with deep ties to the conference. The how and the why don't make much of a difference at this point, but that doesn't mean they won't be brought up multiple times over the next few days. Success is a hard thing to let go of, especially when the reasons don't seem to add up.

There are still too many negative emotions floating around to call what's about to take place in New York a "celebration," but that doesn't mean it's any less of an "end of an era" event. The next five days are going to be special regardless of what team hoists the trophy on Saturday night, and I'm glad that Louisville is going to be a part of it.

For the past eight seasons, no league in college basketball has been more discussed, more controversial, more powerful or more fun than the Big East. Now all that's going to be left are the stories, the last of which begins this evening.

March 14, 2013

The Cards celebrate their quarterfinal win over Villanova with Bill Clinton.

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Because Big East championship.

March 16, 2013

Luke Hancock (AKA 3-11) drops his now-famous"For the Haterz."

Also Louisville wins its second straight Big East Tournament championship in one of the most hard to believe games we've ever seen.

I don't know what just happened. I mean, I watched it, but I don't know what just happened.

We've seen some improbable things over the past few years, but Louisville turning a 16-point second half deficit into a 17-point win...in the Garden...against Syracuse...for the last Big East championship...that ranks right up there at the top.

Where do you take this post from there? Peyton Siva became the first back-to-back Big East Tournament MVP since Patrick Ewing, Kevin Ware - the player who was suspended indefinitely just two months ago - stepped up larger than anyone could have ever imagined, and then there was Montrezl Harrell impregnating the entire state of New York.

There were a thousand memorable moments to take away from this game, but the one I'll remember above all others is the shot of the players on the bench encouraging Harrell after he missed a free-throw with the team down 11 early in the second half. It epitomizes what this group is about and how they were able to pull something off like what we saw tonight.

March 17, 2013

Louisville is the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and Kevin Ware is wearing Card Chronicle Bird Masks.

March 18, 2013

How could it get any better?


March 19, 2013

We don't like Sports Illustrated and we don't like Digger Phelps.

March 20, 2013

The eerie similarities between 2009 and 2013 make the NCAA Tournament the ultimate test for Louisville's Revenge Tour.

March 21, 2013

The dream is alive and well as the magic of March takes over.

I think I speak for all of us when I say that as much as I love the sport, I'm a Louisville fan first and a college basketball fan second. Sure I still watch the games after the Cards are knocked out of the tournament, but that magic feeling which is present right now instantly disappears and doesn't return for another 12 months.

If Louisville defeats North Carolina A&T this evening, we're all permitted the right to be completely ridiculous - Tim Henderson played against one of Colorado State's reserves when he was 11, that could be huge. Georgetown losing to Florida Gulf Coast would mean we definitely wouldn't have to face them in the title game. - until that incommunicable anxiety returns again on Saturday. It's crazy, but let's be real, this is all crazy; we're all crazy. And I couldn't love it more.

In a matter of hours, the NCAA Tournament, complete with its endless potential and requisite magic, tips off.

March 24, 2013

Louisville fans take over Rupp Arena and the Cards roll past North Carolina A&T and Colorado State on their way to the tournament's second weekend.

March 27, 2013

Kentucky fans are bitter and irrational.

March 28, 2013

Russ Smith says seven fantastic things before the Oregon game.

On Coach Pitino and Andre McGee saying they brought more pressure in 2009:

"Old heads always going to have something to say. I mean, I can't even--Coach P said he never even had a turnover in college."

On his summary of Friday night's game:

"Pretty much whoever gets more confused is going to lose the game."

March 29, 2013

He then scores 31 points as Louisville takes care of a game Oregon squad to move into the Elite Eight.

Does anyone know Rick Pitino's record in the Sweet 16?

March 31, 2013

Where to start.

After witnessing arguably the most gruesome injury in the history of (televised) sports, Louisville rolls over Duke in the second half to earn its second straight trip to the Final Four.

Hours later, the Louisville women pull perhaps the most shocking upset in the history of the sport when they knock off Brittney Griner and No. 1 overall seed Baylor.

Still, it's Kevin Ware's injury and the response of his teammates that steals the vast majority of the day's headlines.

April 1, 2013

Kevin Ware undergoes successful surgery and is already up and walking on crutches.

April 2, 2013

The Cards finally get an SI cover.

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That night, the Louisville women upset Tennessee to join the men in the Final Four.

April 3, 2013

Kevin Ware's ESPN interview makes a nation weep.

April 4, 2013

Jay Bilas stops by to hang. It's not a big deal.

Do you actually practice photo-bombing or is that just a God-given talent?

Oh, there's no practicing. I go purely on instinct, baby. That's 100 percent God-given.

Are those actually your kids in the Dove Commercial, and do you always do that intense post-fist bump stare?

Yes, those are my kids. The eye-rolling that you see from my son is definitely not acting. I see that almost daily. The effectiveness of that eye roll is more about my ability as a parent than it is my son's ability to act.

If Louisville and Michigan were to both advance on Saturday, who do you like in that battle of guards between Siva/Smith and Burke/Hardaway Jr.?

It's difficult to say because they're so different. Siva and Smith are much faster and more athletically dynamic than Hardaway and Burke, but Burke is the complete package. He's everything you could want out of a guard in terms of his ability to run the floor, shoot the ball, pass the ball and play defense. Like I said earlier, he was my pick for player of the year. All four guards are great and all four do different things well, but I think Burke is the best of the bunch.

Why are you so hood?

It's where I come from. Rolling Hills, California. That's what we called it, we called it the hood. If you leave your Gucci loafers lying around then they're gonna get took.

April 5, 2013

Rick Pitino wants a national championship just as badly as Louisville fans.

The love affair between the coach and his fans is more intense today, because it's more complex. Sure, the fact that the Cardinals are about to play in the Final Four for a second straight season helps, but even the most hesitant of U of L fans has fallen head over heels for the new "Louisville Rick." They love the fact that he came up with the nickname "Russdiculous" for star guard Russ Smith and they love that he shed tears when sophomore guard Kevin Ware broke his leg against Duke in the Elite 8.

More than anything, though, Cardinal fans love that "Louisville" and "First" are now words best embodied by the man who initially shoved them together. He's a Louisville guy himself, not just a person who works with and for them.The newfound love affair between the fans and the coach is absolutely a byproduct of the love affair between the coach and his players.

Rick Pitino and Louisville fans have made little effort to hide their shared desire for getting back to the championship winning ways of their respective pasts. For that to happen at a time when both are on the same page and with the group of players that made that all happen would be incredibly special.

That should have been Hall of Famer Rick Pitino wants a national championship just as badly as Louisville fans.

April 6, 2013

Louisville somehow comes back to beat Wichita State. Cardinal fans collectively buy new pants and thank their personal deity for Tim Henderson.

If I said it once after it happened, I said it a hundred times: If we win this game it's legitimately because of Tim Henderson.

I went to get food at halftime and legitimately uttered the sentences: "That was our worst half in two moths and we're down by one. They didn't even play that well. We'll win by at least 10."

Bear in mind that I am not exactly the most optimistic in-game fan you know.

Fast forward to the 13:40 mark of the second half when Cleanthony Early drills yet another three-pointer to put Wichita State up 12.

"Holy sh-t. We're actually going to lose."

And we would have, had a walk-on from Christian Academy who was only forced onto the court by an injury to another reserve not buried back-to-back three-pointers to instantly get the Cardinals back into the game and completely shift the momentum back to the side of the top seed.

The most amazing thing about the shots was that there was no hesitation whatsoever from Hendo, who had misfired on his only other attempt up to that point. He went up for both those shots like the play had been drawn up for him. You could almost hear him say as he rose for both shots, "why wouldn't I be taking this?"

Thank God he did, because if he'd been even remotely tentative then I'm quite confident a hoard of Louisville fans (including this one) would be in the midst of an extremely depressing road trip back home.

April 8, 2013

Oh my God this is actually happening.

Programs just don't win like this anymore.

I would venture to say that most Louisville fans know more about Gorgui Dieng than they do at least one of their family members. Had he left six months after arriving on campus then you would have had to have changed "most" to "some" in order to make the previous statement an accurate one.

You don't turn down the top recruits in the country when they're lining up to play for your school, but if Kentucky fans had the choice, I think they'd all admit that they'd prefer to win a national title with players they'd gotten to know over the course of three or four years. The lack of a significant attachment isn't enough to detract from the thrill of winning a championship, but I do think the presence of one is significant enough to add to it.

Detrimental ego problems are the norm even on teams that have been fortunate enough to see their most talented players stick around past their freshman seasons. Kids want their shot at big numbers on the court, and bigger numbers off it.

That Pitino has been able to put together a group this loaded with senior, junior and sophomore talent, and still have no one doubt that each and every player has fully bought into the team concept is nothing short of a minor miracle. Selfless talent is an endangered species, and as a result people have almost forgotten how effective it can be.

More than any group I've ever followed, this team embodies and justifies my love affair with Louisville basketball. At this point, any Cardinal championship would be beyond special. A championship by this team, however, would be perfect.

Here's hoping the dream comes to fruition in a few hours.

Turns to oh my God that actually happened.

The Louisville Cardinals are national champions. Everything is right.

April 9, 2013

Rick Pitino shouts out Card Chronicle after winning the national championship.

Ok, now everything is right.

April 10, 2013

The U of L women fall to Connecticut in the national championship game, but are still given a hero's welcome upon returning to Louisville.

April 12, 2013

It takes four days for me to compose myself and write a legitimate reflection: Louisville Basketball and the Dream That Did Not Die.

When talking to friends, family, strangers and anyone else willing to listen on Monday, the word that kept coming up was "forever." And I think that's the best part of this: We get this forever. The memories aren't going to fade or be tainted now. This team, these players, our stories...all of it is forever.

Since starting this site back in '07, I've written a post every year on the day after Louisville is eliminated from the NCAA Tournament titled "The Worst Day of the Year." It's hyperbole only in the sense that there's no way for me to know what awful things are going to happen on other days. The truth is that, as far as guaranteed depressing occurrences are concerned, being faced directly with the knowledge that it'll be another 12 months before the dream has a chance to be realized has always ranked right at the top (or the bottom) of every Mike Rutherford calendar year. It's something I don't really get over, or allow myself to get over, until Derby.

There will be no worst day of 2013 because the dream did not die this year.

Realized dreams come along so rarely in life that they demand to be absorbed, celebrated and soaked in as much as possible. You've got plenty of time to make that happen, realized dreams are forever.

April 16, 2013

Crum's Revenge also takes some time to compose himself before releasing this masterpiece.


April 17, 2013

No one did the championship bigger than the CCBM.

April 19, 2013

Louisville will play a football game in South Bend against Notre Dame in 2014, which is cool.

April 23, 2013

There is no hotter trading card in the game.

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April 24, 2013

Russ Smith is staying in Louisville. A city rejoices.

April 26, 2013

Rick Pitino makes good on his tattoo promise.

April 28, 2013

Kevin Ware heads to the White House Correspondence Dinner and continues to serve as a tremendous representative for U of L.

May 1, 2013

It's been almost a month but we're still talking about Final Four weekend.

I'm not saying we're superstitious at CC Headquarters, but my roommate Brandon was mowing the lawn last fall and noticed that the back gate was open. He went to close it, but then remembered that the U of L football team had just played perhaps its best game of the season against Pitt. Suffice it to say, the gate remained open for the rest of the fall and through the winter.

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It wasn't closed until two weeks ago.

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If I have ever have enough money, I'm going to hire someone to paint a mural of that first image.

Offer is still on the table.

May 7, 2013

We break down the top hugs of the Louisville sports season because we can.

May 9, 2013

There are certain things that a fan has to do after their team win's the sport's ultimate prize. Here's a checklist.

1. You must spend at least $100 on national championship memorabilia before next season

Variant factors like age and overall financial stability make it difficult to peg an exact number here, but I feel like three figures is a safe minimum. Keep in mind that "memorabilia" isn't limited to clothing items. We're talking books, magazines, cups, blankets, posters and whatever else you can imagine and sell.

This type of thing doesn't happen all that often, but the byproducts tend to linger for just about ever. I wore a tattered 1986 championship shirt that featured the Cardinal bird eating a Blue Devil as a (horrifying) nightshirt for far too long before I made the connection between the image on the shirt and the fact that Louisville had won a national title in my lifetime. I was 19. I wasn't, but that thing made a solid dent into the '90s and I'm pretty sure it's still lying around my parents' house somewhere.

Justify it by cutting back in some other area or areas, but go ahead and buy some of this stuff. As unlikely as it may seem at the moment, there's no guarantee that it won't be another 27 years or so before we get this opportunity again.

May 14, 2013

R.I.P., Braces Teddy.

May 15, 2013

CardsFan922 talks about his view of the Duke game and the Kevin ware injury from right behind the Cardinal bench.

May 24, 2013

There is zero debate over the best GIF of the basketball season.

May 31, 2013

Gordon Gee sucks, gets ripped by Rick Pitino, promptly retires.

June 2, 2013

The Louisville baseball team keeps the magic of the year alive by rolling over Oklahoma State to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament Super Regionals.

June 9, 2013

Wearing some slick new uniforms, the Cards top rival and second-seeded Vanderbilt to earn their second trip to the College World Series.

June 11, 2013

Mitch Barnhart is silly.

June 17, 2013

The glorious Year of the Cardinal ends with Louisville's loss to Oregon State in Omaha.

June 19, 2013

Mr. 305 meets Mr. 502.

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June 28, 2013

Gorgui Dieng and Peyton Siva both hear their names called on NBA Draft night.

July 11, 2013

We spend way too much time together on this one post.

This has undoubtedly been the best nine-month stretch of my life as a sports fan, and one of the best stretches of my life, period. You guys are a major part of that. I thank you for making this such an enjoyable place to come every day and for rewarding the work that goes into making this site exist.

Here's to many more like the last one.

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