The following was written by former Louisville kicker and 2006 Lou Groza Award winner Art Carmody
CC Man of the Year Award:
A great award, and I demand that I be allowed to present this award at the next Card Chronicle Time Magazine Awards Show (TBD). My list of nominees is not much different than yours, with the obvious choices being Charlie Strong, Bilal Powell, and Mike Rutherford. Also, if CardsFan922 had given me a ride he would have easily jumped into this group.
I'd also like to throw a name out there that I believe is flying under the radar, and that is Louisville football head strength coach Pat Moorer. I nominate him because of how much time is spent between the strength coach and the players. He has helped build the mentality that Charlie Strong wants one player at a time in the weight room. Coach Moorer spends an insane amount of time with the players throughout the course of a year in the weight room and on the practice field. If you have been watching the Cards play all year, you can see a clear difference from last year. It is not just in the style of play or the technique of the players, but also in the way they finish games. That is why Coach Pat Moorer gets my nomination.
Preliminary Report from St. Petersburg
I spoke with my Beef O’ Brady’s Bowl correspondent Chris Philpott on Thursday for a quick update on the bowl festivities. The team arrived Wednesday afternoon and then had the introductory meetings that are standard for all bowls. These meetings are basically where the sponsors for the bowl congratulate the team and welcome them to town. Then there is usually a police officer who will let the players know where to go and where not to go, and if they have any problems to call them. After the meetings they had a dinner and were allowed to head out for the night.
On Thursday the team had meetings in the morning and then held a practice at a local high school in St. Petersburg. After practice some of the guys were heading down to the beach. I asked if they had received any bowl gifts yet and Chris said that they had not but would be getting one Thursday night. I haven’t heard yet what it is but if I get any information on the mini-helmet I will let you know. Chris told me that the team was excited to be down there but they are there for one reason only, and that it to win.
Thanks to Chris for the update.
2006 Gator Bowl
-As disappointing as it was to not be the Big East’s BCS representative, we were pumped to be heading to Jacksonville for the Gator Bowl. The Gator Bowl has a lot of history and is one of those games that you know is going to be around for a while. Playing a team like Virginia Tech made the experience even better.
-We stayed at the TPC Sawgrass Resort hotel (not sure if that is the correct name), which was great considering there wasn’t anything around there for us to do. It is a great place to stay, but only if you like to be secluded. For our coaching staff there really wasn’t a better place because it kept us from getting in any trouble. A lot of the guys wanted to go play golf but quickly realized that they would have to spend all of their per diem and more to get on the course. In consolation, there was a nine-hole miniature golf course off to the side that we cold play for free.
-The coaching staff implemented strict curfew rules for us during our stay in Jacksonville. The purpose was so that we could keep this as a business trip. Most of the time was spent watching TV at night. Dane and I got hooked on Deal or No Deal, a new show at the time. They would show re-runs on MSNBC at night and we would try to put ourselves in the contestant’s shoes. It was a great show to watch during bowl week but I don’t think I ever watched it again after I left Jacksonville.
-After one of our practices we had a team lunch at Outback Steakhouse. It was a blast. In a booth sat Todd Flannery, George Stripling, Sergio Spencer, and me. Sergio spent most of the time sleeping at the table, but Todd, George, and I had great conversations. George was one of my favorite guys on the team and I wish things had worked out for him because he was a great football player.
-The Gator Bowl gave us a nice watch, a duffel bag, hat, and t-shirt, and ring. The ring was very nice and was given to each team that played in the Gator Bowl. The school followed that up with a nice team photo plaque and adidas jacket and pants. The real difference was what the school gave us before we left for Christmas break. The school had given us some Tracy McGrady shorts and Tracy McGrady basketball shoes that had a piece of the court actually in the shoe. We all immediately assumed that it was for the Louisville basketball team. The only reason I mention this was when I overheard a conversation at the Gator Bowl luncheon that went like this:
Louisville Player: "So what did y'all get from the school for playing in the Gator Bowl?"
VT Player: "They gave us the option between a video ipod or a portable DVD player, what about y'all?"
Louisville Player: "They gave us some T-Mac shorts and shoes."
VT Player: "That’s awesome I love Tracy McGrady."
Louisville Player: "I would have taken the ipod."
-We went to Adventure’s Landing, an outdoor game place, for one of our team functions. I immediately called Brian out and asked him to join our group of specialists in a miniature golf challenge. I started off in the zone like Phil Mickelson last April at the Masters. Problem was, down the stretch I was playing like Phil Mickelson before he won his first major. I built up a small lead, but before I knew it I was down and needed a miracle to win. Brian would take the green jacket and once again keep the scorecard for our refrigerator. I was thoroughly disappointed but shook it off.
Next up on the agenda were the batting cages. Everyone was asking to have it cranked up to as high as the pitching machine would go. Peanut Whitehead went in first, and immediately whiffed at everything. A few of the guys tried their luck and there were some hits and misses. Jeff Brohm had been watching and was getting egged on by all the players to take some cuts. He said he didn’t want to show anyone up, but everyone else thought that he was joking. I had heard how good he was back in the day. Jeff stepped in to the cage, took one pitch, and then started tearing the cover off the ball. He smashed about ten, walked out of the cage, and said, "that is how it is done."
-At the Gator Bowl luncheon we were by far more mannered and a better looking team than Virginia Tech. The Hokies came in wearing headphones with backwards hats, etc. Coach Petrino and company had us all looking like one cohesive and clean-cut team. The luncheon was pretty good; Desmond Howard was the guest speaker as he was going into the Gator Bowl Hall of Fame. The highlight of this banquet was when they honored two senior student-athletes with awards. Our winner was Jason Spitz and he might have made the best speech at a bowl-related luncheon in the history of bowls. It lasted maybe two sentences and hit the point perfectly on the future of our country and education. I wish I had written it down. After the banquet we were all on the bus and Paul Petrino stormed on, looked at all of us, and plainly said, "I want to kick the shit out of that team."
-We went to the movies as a team and naturally they picked King Kong for us to see, the longest movie we could see at that time. In the back of the bus on the way to the theater Broderick Clark, Joshua Tinch, and Montrell Jones were free styling about the alcohol that Broderick had brought on the bus. Everyone on the offense bus enjoyed it.
-The night before the game I wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t sleep. I woke up feeling like a train had hit me. My head was spinning, my whole body hurt, and I felt like I was going to throw up at a moment's notice. I had a nice morning breakfast of medicine, more medicine, and fruit. When I went back up to the room after breakfast Dane Mattingly told me that he thought the night before that something wasn’t right. He said that when he was watching TV I had got up to go to the bathroom and when I came back I asked him to turn off the TV because we had a championship to win, and that I had said the same thing as soon as I had woke up in the morning. I spent most of the game hoping that my medicine would keep working until the end of the game.
-My 35-yard field goal attempt was strange because the officials had asked for the wrong game ball. As Harry caught the ball and put it down two things immediately caught m eye, the Nike swoosh and the Virginia Tech logo stamped onto the ball. Apparently there was confusion and they threw out our Wilson GST game ball and put in the Nike ball. I swung my leg and as soon as I kicked it I thought it was no good. I looked up to see it sneaking inside the right upright. As I was jogging off the field Michael Sturgeon, our long snapper, asked what was up with the Nike ball. I told him I had no idea but I was just thankful it went in.
-Hunter played his guts out. To be a redshirt freshman in that environment and to take hit after hit after hit was impressive to watch. He kept getting back up and made some big plays for us. You couldn’t ask him to do anymore, which the whole team realized. On our flights out the day after the game (for guys who didn’t go back to Louisville for the rest of the break they got you flights back to your hometown) Brandon Johnson and I sat in the airport’s food court eating pizza and discussing the game. Brandon was disappointed in the loss and wished that we could have done more as a team to take the game off of Hunter’s shoulders. As the game progressed it turned into Hunter having to win the game, which played into Virginia Tech’s game plan. Hunter was our MVP of the Gator Bowl and got a trophy that was well deserved.
-The Marcus Vick stomp on Elvis Dumervil was uncalled for. I understand that things happen in the heat of the moment. There were conflicting reports that Marcus had stopped by our locker room to apologize to Elvis, but I don't remember seeing him anywhere near our team. I am not sure if he did or not, but he was telling the media that he had apologized, which none of us believed to be true.
-The locker room was a tough place to be after the game. We were disappointed to have lost the game, and Coach Petrino had the seniors line up and made all the underclassmen shake their hands and thank them for what they had done for the program. As I was going through and hugging guys like Jason Spitz, Travis Leffew, Antoine Sharp, Brandon Johnson, Josh Tinch, Montrell Jones, etc. it hit me that this was the last time this team would all be together. It was the only time in my football career where I teared up after a game. When I got back to my locker I just sat there with a towel over my head and tried to keep myself from crying. It was a complete 180 from the Liberty Bowl the year before.
That game summed up our 2005 season, a season in which we just didn’t finish games. That would be our motto for the 2006 season. The 2005 season was still a great ride that just didn’t end as we had planned it. It was a very talented football team that I sometimes think gets overshadowed by the 2004 and 2006 teams.
It was a great experience in Jacksonville and I hope that the team is having a great experience this year in St. Pete. I am looking forward to watching the 2010 Cards finish strong against Southern Mississippi on Tuesday.