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Thursday morning Cardinal news and notes

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Basketball fever is back in the Derby City.

—Spread check: We already have an early line on Louisville-Alabama, and it’s the reigning national champs by nearly four touchdowns. That is a significant amount of points.

—The second-ranked U of L women’s team is back in action tonight at 7 at Pittsburgh. Here’s a preview.

—Louisville schools weren’t closed because of weather on Wednesday, it was actually for Earl Clark’s 30th birthday.

Love you.

—Former players on Jeff Walz’s past Final Four teams weigh in on if the 2017-18 Cards have what it take to play for a national title.

—Jake Lourim breaks down the 2018 U of L football schedule.

—Some sights and sounds from the win in South Bend.

—The always entertaining EDSBS has a loo at college footballs’ greatest What Ifs.

—I meant to include it in my scattered thoughts post, but this postgame quote from Q might be my favorite of the season.

Haircut looked great, I can’t lie.

—U of L is No. 15 in the D1Baseball preseason poll.

—The Champions Classic is moving up a week next season to be played on college basketball’s official opening night.

—College free agency is coming, y’all.

—Auburn is having one of the most awkwardly successful seasons in college basketball history, and I wrote about it here. They also lost last night because every team I write about that isn’t Louisville loses its very next game. Sometimes Louisville loses its very next game too.

—Jeff Greer says he understands why the Kenny Payne to Louisville chatter got started, but it needs to end now.

—South Carolina appears to be using Brian Bowen to try and get Zion Williamson, who’s announcing his college choice on Saturday.

—Couldn’t be a bigger fan of how much Preston Brown still dislikes UK.

—WalletHub says that Kentucky is the worst state in the country to retire in.

—I keep saying it: Jack Harlow is the next big name in music to come out of Louisville. He has a good interview with DJ Booth where he focuses on the influence the city has had on him.

—Me, internally, when doing anything.

—The latest NFL mock draft from Athlon has Lamar Jackson going to the Buffalo Bills, which I would absolutely love.

22. Buffalo Bills (from Kansas City) — Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

Tyrod Taylor may not be back in Buffalo but an upgrade at the position in a similar mold could be in store with the pick of the Heisman winner. New OC Brian Daboll has experience from his year at Alabama in bringing young QBs along and fitting his system to them and could do the same with Jackson.

—Providence’s Ed Cooley should be mic’d up for every game.

—U of L’s Mo Thiaw putting in work at the MLS Combine.

—A year after seeing his season cut short because of a broken leg, Eric Wood played every damn snap of every damn game for the Buffalo Bills this season.

—Another week, another top 15 commit for Jeff Walz and the Louisville women’s basketball program.

“This was not an easy decision but I have decided to further my education and talents at the University of Louisville,” Parker wrote on Twitter.

The 6-foot-4 Parker is ranked as the No. 15 player in the Class of 2019 by ProspectsNation.com and checks in as the No. 3 forward. She plays AAU ball for the Fresno Lady Heat and was a finalist last spring for the USA Basketball U-16 National team.

Parker is the second commitment in the ‘19 class, joining Allen, Tx., guard Nyah Green - who is the No. 1 player in the ‘19 class.

—Top Golf is reportedly looking to add a location in Louisville. That would be cool. I think. I’ve never actually been, but it always looks fun.

—Card Chronicle legend Bryce Cotton is still balling.

—Louisville is No. 14 in the new men’s swim and dive rankings.

—The women’s team does the gents four better by checking in at No. 10.

—Former Cardinal Tyler Sharpe has taken on a productive role at Northern Kentucky.

—CHUCKY!

—U of L is an 8 seed in the latest SB Nation Bracketology, but that was pub’d before the Cards’ upset of Notre Dame.

—Hey, Kentucky fans are threatening the lives of officials again.

In the days following the game, Coyte received a barrage of threatening calls to his cell and office phones, sources said, as did the commercial real estate association he belongs to.

The officiating crew received an escort leaving the stadium and getting to the airport from a security consultant, but further security protection wasn’t necessary upon leaving Nashville, according to the Pac-12.

The harassing calls began to die down until last week, sources said, when a letter from Kentucky athletic director Mitch Barnhart to the Pac-12’s vice president of officials, David Coleman, critical of Coyte and his crew was made public by the Lexington Herald-Leader, which reported it obtained the letter through an open records request.

When contacted by ESPN for comment regarding Barnhart’s letter, the Pac-12 made it clear it felt his decision to reach out directly to Coleman was a break from protocol.

”We’re happy to discuss the matter with the SEC,” the Pac-12 said in a statement. “We’re particularly sensitive about this issue because our officials have received threats and we are concerned about their safety.”

In separate statements to ESPN, Kentucky and the SEC both expressed a similar belief that there is not an outlined protocol for how to elevate these concerns.

”We are not aware of any protocols for this kind of situation,” the Kentucky athletic department said in its statement. “We made contact with the Southeastern Conference office and made them aware of our concerns. We expressed those concerns to the SEC and to the Pac-12 office.”In separate statements to ESPN, Kentucky and the SEC both expressed a similar belief that there is not an outlined protocol for how to elevate these concerns.

—U of L baseball’s leadoff dinner is going down next Friday.

—Louisville is apparently the “meatiest” city in America.

—These are pretty awesome.

—Irish Illustrated writes that it was a bittersweet return to the court for Matt Farrell on Tuesday.

—If anyone is looking for a dog, a friend of mine found a sweet stray named Zoey a few weeks back. She was adopted right before Christmas but apparently treated very poorly and returned. My friend has agreed to keep her until she finds a new home, but her house is already too crowded with pets for Zoey to stay long-term. She’s a very sweet girl, crate trained and house trained, but she can’t be around cats.

She’s been very down since she was returned, so I’d love to see her find an especially great home. Hit me up if you’re interested via email (MikeRuth5@aol.com) or the comments or wherever.

—And finally, the full Forecastle lineup is here and most people seem excited. Here’s hoping for a Hologram DMX appearance. I know he’s not dead. That changes nothing.