Just like that, in the blink of an eye, the University of Louisville concluded its 2014/2015 athletic season with a gut wrenching and agonizing defeat on Monday night. Another successful Cardinal season was cut brutally short in all too similar fashion of these past nine months. 2014/2015 hasn't been kind to Louisville and its fans in terms of end goals, but there can be no more debate, Louisville Athletics should only be categorized as elite.
Discussions are held regularly, articles are written consistently, and collegiate sports enthusiasts understand and acknowledge the recent prevalence and success of Cardinal Athletics. "All Hail Tom Jurich" is a common theme throughout the region and deservedly so. After watching Cal State Fullerton celebrate at Jim Patterson Stadium I attempted to set aside the excruciating nature of the loss and evaluate the big picture. My first thought was, which usually takes some time to remember after season ending setbacks, if this is how it feels to be a fan what must those kids be going through? Second, and most important, life is good in the ever expanding world of red and black.
Up and until the unimaginable run in 2012 followed by these past three years of jubilation, jealously was the sentiment that defined my Louisville Cardinal fandom. My entire life was filled with my parents, their friends, and the rest of the old timers constantly rehashing the 1970's and 80's of Louisville Basketball that can be objectively viewed as one of the most dominant and consistent eras of success in college basketball history. When were the new generation of diehards going to get their moments in the sun? The early and mid-90's certainly weren't the dark ages, and even with all the bumps in the road, my generation of Cardinal Fans had plenty of memories to cling to before 2012. Looking back, those few major accomplishments were the pillars that now support the dynasty.
The jealousy is gone and Cardinal Fans young and old can share in the pride of something we've never seen before. Across the board, Louisville's athletic programs are a threat to capture postseason glory each and every season, and more often than not trophies are claimed by the Ville. The last three or four years have been filled with conference championships, national championships, individual honors, top professional draft picks, hall of fame inductions, home run personnel decisions, and Cardinal characters and heroes to be revered for a lifetime. It's almost like the NCAA is Oprah and Louisville Athletics makes up her entire audience (http://big.assets.huffingtonpost.com/oprahyouandyouandyoulego.gif).
The job is certainly incomplete and the expectations have never been higher, but the appreciation Louisville and its fans have for athletics is infectious. The pain of falling short has never stung this much, but the agony of defeat now felt is welcomed when championships are the prize instead of ordinary wins or losses. Men's basketball used to carry the torch for the school and the city, occasionally football would assist in the journey, but the current era is defined by every single Cardinal athlete, student, and fan carrying his or her own weight in pursuit of dominance.
The old saying goes "you can't win em all", but Louisville Athletics has adopted the mentality of why play the game if you don't play to win. The University of Louisville has been rapidly climbing the mountain of success in all facets since 1997, but the peak is far from being reached. Complacency is the enemy of progress and my hope is that one day when my house is filled with little red black and minions, I won't have to tell stories of how it used to be, I'll simply smile because things only got better. All Hail UofL !!