The next three weeks are going to be rough for Louisville football fans. Not because of what is likely to take place with their team on the field, but because of everything they're going to have to hear from rival fans and members of the national media.
Florida International is worse than anyone could have possibly imagined, the bye week is slightly better, and Temple, U of L's first AAC opponent, is 0-3 and just lost to Fordham.
While the Cardinals are walking this wide rope into the heart of October, major conference play will be heating up around the rest of the country. This will result in a number of huge wins for top 10 teams, a few major upsets, and just about every objective viewer ignoring Louisville sans the occasional glance at a box score or 30-second highlight video. It's also likely to result in a great deal of animosity towards the Cards, who are going to be impossible to dismiss completely thanks to that little No. 6 currently sitting next to their name.
While Louisville fans can't change what's about to happen, we can prepare ourselves for everything we're about to hear between now and Oct. 10 when the Cardinals host Rutgers in that Thursday night clash on ESPN.
With that in mind, here are the five insults you are most likely to hear at some point over the next 24 days, and three potential responses for you to choose from. Each response is applicable to a particular situation, so please remain calm and select the appropriate one at your own discretion.
Insult: Louisville is absolutely pathetic. While the rest of the country is beating itself up, you guys are playing absolutely no one and staying in the top 10. If you played in any other conference, you'd already have two or three losses. Play somebody, anybody. You guys are a joke.
Response 1: For starters, the blame for Louisville's weak schedule can't be placed on the program itself. The brass at U of L attempted to schedule games with a number of power teams, and was turned down each time. The program actually had an agreement in place with Texas A&M for an extremely short period of time before the Aggies backed out. The Cardinals are also caught in the unfortunate position of being stuck in a sub-par conference for one season before it moves into the ACC. Had Maryland been able to bolt for the Big 10 this season, then Louisville would have gladly slid in and accepted the Terrapins' 2013 league schedule. Trust me, there are no groups of people who would rather play a difficult schedule than the Cardinal players, coaches and fans. All the team can do is beat the opponents they're assigned to play, and that's exactly what they're doing.
Response 2: This is an argument that has been made against Louisville for as long as I've been a fan, and one which the Cardinals have continuously proven to be baseless. Take last season for example, when anyone and everyone thought U of L was unworthy of playing in a BCS game, and the Cards turned right around and roasted No. 3 Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Louisville is also a program which has beaten Alabama in a Fiesta bowl, won an Orange Bowl, and knocked off programs like Florida State, Miami and Texas when they've agreed to play. Time and time again, Louisville has proven that when it gets a shot, it can compete with the best teams in college football. They'll prove that again this winter when they get their next shot.
Response 3: Listen motherf---er, do you have any f---ing idea how many f---ing times I've had to hear this s--t? Who do you root for again? Oh, you're a huge (Ohio State/Alabama/Georgia/South Carolina/Clemson/Oregon/Tennessee/DePaul) fan? Name me four f---ing players....That's what I thought. And since you're such an expert regarding the ins and outs of college football and what the future holds for the sport, let's look back at that completely accurate Sugar Bowl prediction you made nine months ago. What's this? A tweet from the afternoon of Jan. 2 which reads: "Can't wait to watch Louisville get buttf---ed tonight. lol." You've also got a nice angry face (why are you mad?) emoticon and a "chomp gators" (you're not a Florida fan, silly) hashtag there to drive the point home. You've been wrong about Louisville in the past way more times than I've been wrong about Louisville in the past, so allow me to say this: My favorite team would beat your favorite team in football.
Insult: Teddy Bridgewater has absolutely no shot to win the Heisman Trophy. Absolutely none. The fact that Louisville fans even think he does is such a joke. I could put up monster numbers if I was going up against Barret Middle School every week, it doesn't mean I deserve an award. Look at guys like Colt Brennan and Graham Harrell; just because you light up inferior competition doesn't mean you're an elite quarterback.
Response 1: Actually, Teddy has put up unheard of numbers against quality, average and sub-par opponents alike over the past three seasons. He's thrown at least one touchdown pass in each of Louisville's last 15 games, and is just the third FBS quarterback in the past five seasons to open a season by throwing four or more touchdown passes in back-to-back games. He currently leads the nation in touchdown passes and is fourth in passing efficiency. It doesn't matter who you're playing, if you're putting up those types of numbers, you're the real deal.
Response 2: Well, Las Vegas has had Bridgewater as one of the top three betting choices in the Heisman race since the start of the season, so I'd say that, for at least the time being, his candidacy is pretty legitimate. Vegas stands to lose money on these types of things, so if they're saying he's a Heisman favorite, then he's a Heisman favorite.
Response 3: Your hypothetical might be the stupidest f---ing thing I've ever heard. I've seen you throw, and Barret Middle would make you look like Jim Drunkenmiller on his worst day. And even if you did "light them up," would there be 20 NFL scouts on-hand to see it? Would major networks across the country be projecting you as the No. 1 pick in next summer's draft as a result of that performance? Because that's the type of attention Teddy is receiving right now from people who have zero rooting interest in either Louisville football or his Heisman Trophy campaign. Enjoy refusing to play with anyone but him on Madden in three years, a--hole.
Insult: I'm a Kentucky fan, and the fact that we were able to keep the game against you so close is proof that you're a not legitimate national title contender. We know we're not very good, and we know that you guys are better than us, but you're completely delusional if you believe the dirty birds are a legitimate top 10 team. You'd be lucky to win seven or eight games if you played our schedule.
Response 1: While the final score last Saturday may have been a bit closer than the majority of fans on both sides were expecting, it's still a bit inaccurate to deem the game as one which was "close." It was a decisive two-touchdown victory for a team playing its first road game in a hostile environment against an amped-up team who just so happened to be their arch-rivals. Respectable games have been far more normal than blowouts in the Governor's Cup series, which is why the final score was almost exactly what the folks in Las Vegas predicted it would be. Louisville winning by 14 in this situation is a testament to its maturity as much as it is a sign that it has room for improvement, but by no means is it an indication that the Cards aren't deserving of their lofty national ranking.
Response 2: Good teams sometimes give average performances, that's as much a part of football (or any sport, really) as anything else. LSU looked extremely average against Mississippi State in week three two seasons ago. Notre Dame almost lost to Pitt and looked lackluster against a handful of other average opponents last season. Both of those teams went on to play in the national championship game with virtually no objection from anyone. You can find similar examples in just about every college football season between now and the dawn of the sport. Louisville went into Lexington, it took care of business, and now it's on to the next one.
Response 3: I'm going to need you to clean that vomit off my shoes when you wake up.
Insult: AAC? More like Gay A C.
Response 1: Throat stab
Response 2: Throat stab
Response 3: Throat stab
Insult: Stick to basketball and leave football to the big boys. Keep beating up on the Temples of the world and then come home and watch the real teams battle it out on ESPN and ABC. Next time anybody sees you it'll be you getting blown out in a bowl game.
Response 1: We will stick to basketball...and football...and baseball...and just about any sport you can imagine. According to a number of ranking systems, the University of Louisville had the best overall athletics season in the country last season. Its men's basketball team won a national championship, its women's team played in the title game, its football team beat Florida in the Sugar Bowl and its baseball team advanced to the College World Series. And all that is really only scratching the surface. Time and time again, Louisville has proven that it can compete with any team in the country in any sport. Keep watching the football Cardinals and I think you'll get yet another taste of that by the end of the season. Also, U of L is scheduled to play four of its last seven games on national television, and more will likely be picked up by ABC or ESPN if the Cards are undefeated when those games roll around. People will be able to catch us plenty of times before the end of the regular season.
Response 2: At what point do we have to stop hearing this? How many times does Louisville have to take advantage of its moment in the national spotlight before "just wait until you flop when your moment in the national spotlight comes" stops being such a widely-utilized insult? Are we going to have to beat the Patriots? We've already talked about a lot of the program's accomplishments, but Louisville is one of just five schools to have appeared in multiple BCS games without losing one. Just five. When it wins a third one three months from now, you can kindly never talk to me about any of this again.
Response 3: Throat stab