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Flashback: Louisville Is A Football City (For Now)

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

A big game week against Miami has left me a bit nostalgic and daydreaming about that big game week against The U nearly eight years ago. It was the first time in my life that Louisville had really felt alive with the buzz that I'd always imagined "football cities" had right before big games.

With the Canes coming to town again in just four short days, I thought it would be cool to look back at something I wrote about the experience in 2006, which, as fate would have it, wound up being Bobby Petrino's most recent season as the front man for Cardinal football.


The city of Louisville has committed adultery.

Surely you noticed and simply looked the other way, but while the wormy apple of marriage still survives, the denial must cease.

The infidelity can be traced directly to the persistent advances of a fiery young flame that plays it's games on a surface that isn't bouncy and with a ball that isn't round.

'Tis the same temptress that caught our eye for the first time a decade and a half ago.

It was something new, it was bold, and it felt like the very thing we'd been missing all our lives. The innocent, early courting days seemed to have gone so well, and yet she rarely called over the next several years. And then even when she did the conversations seemed a bit forced, certainly nothing was said to make us entertain thoughts of leaving a comfortable relationship founded on decades of trust.

She clawed back into our lives near the turn of the century, only this time it appeared she'd reinvented herself. She was edgier, sexier and her once starry eyes now held the undeniable hungry glare of desire. With the new look came new problems, she was unreliable and overly outrageous. Certainly nothing worthy of commitment.

And then she almost had us for good two years ago. She'd shown us she could change, that she was ready to devote everything she had to making us happy. But it was a minor slip up, just for a brief second, that was enough to keep us from falling head over heels.

And now we've finally bitten. The total package is here, the flash of the Doctors of Dunk, the speed and the spirit of Secretariat, and the fight and resiliency of Muhammad Ali. We've taken our hearts and we've moved them from midcourt to the 50-yard-line.

The realization of the official shift in the city hit us two weeks ago.

It was four days before Louisville tackled the notorious Miami Hurricanes and we were on our way to suffer through the next in a long line of mundane tasks in the middle of a mundane work week. We ran into a bit of traffic which backed us up to a position where we were parallel with a playground outside of an elementary school.

We glanced out the right window and observed two or three classes of youngsters partaking in the pinnacle of youth that is recess. We looked a bit harder and spied a glowing little tyke wearing a red Brian Brohm jersey. The young Cardinal fan apparently had taken notice of our curiosity and in one brief motion trampled (symbolically) the four-foot fence that separated us and restored our faith in the future of this world.

The young man flashed us an "L."

Two thoughts immediately emerged, the first being an elaborate plan to sabotage the young Brohm fan's parents in way that would enable us to obtain sole custody of the little gift from God. The second was the realization of how unfathomable such a sight would have been merely a decade ago.

Indeed there was a time of which we are not far removed when Louisville football apparel was harder to find than an African American fan not named Smith in Rupp Arena. A time when an adolescent U of L fanatic's only way of showing off Cardinal pride at school in September was to don a #32 Dejuan Wheat basketball jersey.

Times have changed, and being here you can't help but notice it.

The atmosphere in the city two weeks ago was unlike anything we'd ever experienced. There was that certain buzz usually reserved for the month of March or a particular week in December, but the buzz was different, oddly different. Louisville wanted this, they desperately wanted to fall in love with this football team.

Sometime between 3:30 and 6 p.m. on Sept. 16, it happened.

An elaborate sequence of events has led us to this point, from obscurity to Fiesta Bowl to PJCS to the Big East and now to being on the verge of becoming a national power.

This is a rapport built on trust. Miami communicated to us that we can trust you, that the days of the South Floridas, and Armys, and bowl game disasters are officially a thing of the past. We want this to last as much as you do, but sadly all it takes is a stunner in the Carrier Dome or a John L-esque performance at Rutgers Stadium and our focus will go from Giacomini to Gianiny before the team plane takes off.

You have our attention like you've never had it before. It's your show.