Bobby P, Era II, Year 3. There were moments of offensive firepower so explosive during Card Coach Bobby Petrino's first two ventures in town, initially as offensive coordinator for a season, then as head mentor from '03-'06, that the Red & Black Faithful were oft taken to exclaim, "He's the next great college coaching genius."
We were not alone in our assessment.
Not the least of his achievements was beating the Cats in his first game, when wearing the leader's head set. And each season after that.
More monumental -- after all, beating UK on the gridiron is no big deal -- was an offense that trampled the tundra, seemingly at will. Wide open receivers, a deceptively effective running game. The Cards hung 50, 60, 70 on its mostly mid major schedule, at their pleasure. There were also big Ws over big time schools, skunking the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill, eviscerating the Beavers from PAC-12 Oregon State. And that victory over Wake Forest in the Orange.
In '06, Louisville was a W that wasn't to come in New Brunswick, NJ away from a spot in the national title game.
Then . . . I'll save you a reiteration of the details . . . he was gone.
Soon enough, he was back.
This time around, against significantly better competition week in and week out in the ACC, mostly using the leftarounds from Charlie Strong's stellar recruiting, his teams are 9-4 and 8-5, with a 1-1 bowl game tally against a couple SEC foes.
With fall practice just days away, those same U of L faithful are wondering whether in Year 3 of Bobby P Era II, they'll start to see that same dominance as before? Will the Cards get their mojo woikin'?
Todd Grantham's D has generally been stalwart, but there were inexplicable lapses last season that stick in the Cardinal Nation's craw. Giving up 21 unanswered at the start in Lexington, letting the Seminoles exert their will after halftime in Tallahassee.
Despite a stellar corps of receivers, better than average RBs and a precocious QB with a propensity to make sumthin' from nuthin', Louisville's O was similarly iffy. A three point escape against BC, a one point nailbiter against Wake, and coulda woulda shoulda Ls against biggies on the slate, Auburn, Clemson, Florida State and surprising Houston.
Which brings us to Now. QB Lamar Jackson admits he did a lot of improvising last season, because, as a real rookie, he didn't know the playbook, exonerating his O Line with the admission. I'll give him the former. As for the latter, Cardinal fans are in show us mode, waiting to see if holes open this season for the running game, and Jackson has time in the pocket before it collapses.
To see if the receiving corps, especially up and down James Quick, perform to expectations.
So, yeah, it's time for glimpses of Bobby Era Uno to show up, if not the whole panorama just yet.
* * * * *
Before Russ Smith learns who his teammates in Turkey will be, or the name of his coach, or becomes acquainted with his personal translator, I suggest he wiki up the name Tayyup Erdogan.
He is the "president" of that exotic land, where the for former Cardinal is now slated to ball for Galatasaray Odeabank in the Turkish Basketball Super League. In the aftermath of a recent coup attempt, the government leader indiscriminately arrested every citizen who hasn't been smiling ear to ear when uttering his name.
So, Russ, who appears still to be listening to his father, who has disproportionately large expectations regarding the future of his son, has apparently seen the light. Smith the Younger's chances of making the League are slim.
There are those, myself included, who feel he could contribute to an NBA team. But the realists among us understand he's not likely to ever get a real opportunity.
Thus Russ heading overseas is a prudent move.
But . . . uh . . . Turkey??? Just weeks after a bloody coup attempt, and a bloodier smackdown in the aftermath?
It is reported that Smith had an offer to play in China. But he made his choice, based on a few more Lira than Yuan.
I dunno. Despite the fact, given the pollution, he'd have to wear a gas mask while playing, he coulda been the next Stephon Marbury. Who took his Starbury personality to a whole new level in China, making gazillions of Yuan, even starring as himself in a film about his life.
Given his infectious personality and scintillating game, Russ, one guy's opinion, could do the same as Marbury. Under significantly less perilous circumstances. He could become Russtastic.
Hope I'm wrong, but it appears the Smiths, père and fils, have made a penny wise pound foolish decision.
-- Seedy K
Correction: The original post incorrectly stated that U of L's W over Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl was the Cardinals' first ever New Year's Day game. They previously beat Drake in the 1958 Sun Bowl, and Alabama in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl.