By Andrew Phelps
It is summertime in Louisville, the annual "what the hell do I do now?" portion of our calendars after Derby and before football season where sports fans aren't quite sure what to do with themselves. The sunshine is great, everyone enjoys the cookouts, and who doesn't lather up in Coppertone or Banana Boat hoping to transform into that picturesque bronze God or Goddess while always settling for a blotchy version of a perfectly ripe tomato?
I have been away from the writing realm for some time, one could blame it on the World Cup however, as much as I pretended with millions of others, soccer will never top my interest list. The fact is there hasn't been much going on for us Louisvillians. Then, the sun rose in the east, July first was upon us Cardinal fans, and as Bill Pullman once declared in some Will Smith movie, today, we celebrate our independence day. It was ACC day for the University of Louisville, and in just a few hours, all excitement, eagerness, and great expectations had returned to the city.
The preseason articles and magazines have started shoveling their avalanche of information that consumes us through August and becomes meaningless in September. The analysts and their predictions have been somewhat consistent, but there has been one narrative that permeates through almost everything I have read. The experts and talking heads continuously throw around this "adjustment period" phrase and it continuously elicits a pause and ponder sentiment from me. I understand the Cardinals are entering into an elite conference complete with jaw dropping revenues and storied programs, but I see no David in the eyes of Tom Jurich and the University of Louisville, I have only ever seen a Goliath.
Some forty years ago, give or take a few on either side, the University of Louisville and its fans decided that Cardinal basketball was an elite program, one destined for sustained greatness and envy. Today, the basketball program is still the beacon of the school, and our fans continue to build its legacy with first class facilities, eye popping revenues, wallet burning ticket prices, and satisfactory results. Great expectations forced Louisville basketball to become a top program, but it wasn't only setting a level of expectation, it was the collective attitude that as a whole, we would only accept exceeding those expectations.
When Tom Jurich arrived in 1997, his vision was to transform the athletic department completely. More specifically, Mr. Jurich strived to implement the attitude this city, these fans, and the country had for Louisville basketball into every athletic program under the Cardinal umbrella. Through his leadership, the never ending monetary support of the Cardinal faithful, and the constantly expanding fan base, Cardinal athletics arrive in the ACC as a complete and successful machine. Our athletic director expects championship teams to take the field in every sport, as fans, why would we not join him in his vision?
Call it fan bias, ethnocentrism, Cardinal-induced-blindness, it doesn't matter. I don't believe in an adjustment period, I believe in our great expectations. I am not proclaiming that anything less than a championship in every sport will be a disappointment, I am simply looking back at the last 17 years and realizing how far our school has come and why.
The University of Louisville expects greatness. Our fans, players, and coaches take to the fields and courts envisioning championships, believing in their elite status. Tom Jurich, the University, and Cardinal fans don't have time to adjust; the dawn of an unparalleled era is upon us. The expectations will be great, exceeding them will incite jubilation, but as for surprised and shocked by Cardinal success, those feelings don't exist anymore in the Ville. Cardinals don't just expect greatness, we achieve it.
All Hail UofL !!