The prevailing message coming from the U of L camp this week has been that last year's controversial loss to Connecticut has been put out of mind, and that the team is absolutely not going to be out for revenge on Friday night.
Steve Kragthorpe, Hunter Cantwell and company have said everything you'd expect them to say, and handled a fairly difficult situation as well as any of us could have hoped for. But we're fans here, and fans aren't saddled with the burden of political correctness. Mute memories and feelings of antagonism can find voices on Card Chronicle.
I really, really, really want to beat Connecticut in three days, and approximately 85% of that is because of what happened in last year's game. My assumption is that most people reading this harbor a similar percentage.
There was never any reason to dislike the Huskies before Oct. 19, 2007. They'd never beaten Louisville, they haven't been a Division I-A program for that long, Rentschler Field always looks nice on television, etc. But it took about 12 seconds to shake up these feelings of apathy.
I'm sure each one of you has a where I was/what I did story from that ghastly October night, but here's mine:
A group of friends and I had made plans to spend this particular weekend in Lexington, drinking, watching football and betting on horses (say what you will about the city, there are few better ways to spend Fridays or Saturdays in the fall). Keeneland has always been far crueler to me than Churchill would ever dream of being, but my attempts to cash a ticket on this afternoon were especially off-target. We're talking exacta bets on first and third choices who end up running seventh and ninth. A sign of things to come, indeed.
After some pretty intense grubbing and napping, we congregated in the main room of a friend's house to take in the game.
There are almost too many maddening aspects of that five-minute span to recall. Obviously, the play itself was particularly cruel, but then you had the color guy continually saying that Louisville's punt coverage team needed to "finish the play," Kragthorpe calling a timeout but not going nearly ballistic enough, a shot of Larry Taylor laughing on the sidelines, and shot after shot of the officials looking like they had absolutely no idea what was going on. It was all just a little too much to take.
After the extra point was kicked and ESPN had cut to commercial, silence drenched the once boisterous room. There was no movement until a blameless Art Carmody jersey was ripped off and thrown to the ground with such intensity that even the chucker couldn't help but crack a smile. It remains the biggest overreaction since the now infamous two-liter hurl in the closing seconds of the loss to Marquette in the '02 C-USA Tournament. I watched the rest of the game in a room by myself and was no fun to be around for the remaining hours of the night.
Things likely would have been even worse had I known what took place after the game. You had Randy Edsall actually giving a game ball to Larry Taylor, and then of course Taylor himself saying the following:
“That wasn’t no fair catch, that was a fair play out there,” Taylor told the Associated Press. “The referee didn’t call anything, he said it was a fair play. I felt I didn’t fair catch it anyway.”
Taylor would go on to pull the same move (albeit less successfully) a month later against Cincinnati, and Louisville would go on to miss the postseason by one win.
Yes, it'd be great to start Big East play with a victory and yes, it'd be great to build on the momentum created by the Kansas State win, but unlike the folks who will actually be involved in the winning or the losing, I'm more than willing to acknowledge being consumed with the feeling that we owe these guys one, and equally willing to acknowledge that this feeling is the main force driving my excitement level as we continue to move towards the end of the week.