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Thankful for a new era

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George Mason v Louisville Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

“When asked if my cup is half full or half empty, my only response is that I am thankful that I have a cup.” – Unknown

As a University of Louisville Football fan, staunch or half-heartedly devoted, it’s not exactly easy for the majority of us to formulate a list of bullet points we can be thankful for this Thanksgiving. In fact, some would argue that the one thing that they are most appreciative of is the fact that there is only one game remaining in a season that will go down in the UofL record books for all the wrong reasons. But living in a glass half empty mindset can be paralyzing and, frankly, no fun. The reality is that if a Louisville fan were to actually sit and ponder for a while, there actually ARE some things to be grateful for this holiday season. Don’t believe me? How about these following reasons…..

● You will never have to hear Bobby Petrino follow a 60+ point road loss with a press conference where he states that his team just needs to practice harder and have fun

● Louisville’s football stadium has come full circle is now one of the nicest facilities not only in the ACC but in all of college football (now let’s work on filling it)

● Alcohol is still served at home games – one of the coping mechanisms many of us have used to endure such bad football the past three months

● A new head coach looms, one that could potentially reunite the fan base, reignite recruiting and get a once proud program back on track

And…………………..

Vince Tyra

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On a personal level, Vince Tyra is the one thing or person that as a UofL Football fan I am MOST thankful for this calendar year. Don’t get it twisted, I’m also very thankful for Chris Mack and many of the other top flight head coaches and student atheltes still representing UofL. But Tyra has earned my ultimate respect.

There is little denying that Tom Jurich did some amazing things during his time on Floyd Street. It’s been said more times than most could count that all you have to do to see Jurich’s impact on UofL Athletics is to simply walk around or near campus and look at the facilities. That is undeniable. Add the fact that Jurich was instrumental in getting Louisville into the ACC and it’s easy for one to see just how difficult it would be for his eventual successor to maintain his level of popularity and most of all a comparable stamp of approval from the Cardinal fan base.

I recently ran a quick random poll in the Louisville Football Fan Club that I moderate on Facebook. The poll question can be seen below and the numbers, while obviously not representative of the entire UofL fan base, would suggest that Vince Tyra is indeed doing a helluva job as UofL’s Athletic Director. Out of 332 fans that participated in the poll, 94% said they were either “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the job Tyra has done as the AD since coming on board full-time. The seventeen that stated they were “not satisfied” were all members of the Jurich immediate and extended families (I kid, I kid!)

As for me, you can firmly place my vote in the “VERY satisfied” category.

But again, not only am I satisfied, but I’m super thankful to have a guy like Tyra at the helm. In a time when UofL Athletics is experiencing financial uncertainty seemingly more than any other period in school history, Louisville needed a leader who was business savvy – Tyra fit the bill to a tee.

Louisville also required the inheritor of the AD office to be someone who could relate to the fan base on a patented level – as a former booster, season ticket holder and lifelong fan, Tyra has been able to accurately measure the pulse of the UofL fan base.

Has Tyra been perfect since becoming the AD at UofL? I’m certain there are valid arguments as to why he has not, but is flawlessness even achievable at that level? Moreover, I speak only for myself when I say that as a die-hard fan I’m not looking for perfection. In fact, I want an AD who is willing to make changes (fire deserving coaches), take chances (open parking lots early) and challenge the status quo (lower concession prices). Tyra has done all of those things in both small and big doses.

From a personnel perspective Tyra, in my opinion, hit a home run with the hiring of Chris Mack – a coach who has endeared himself to a fractured fan base and has landed a current top 5 recruiting class nationally for 2019. In addition to Mack, Tyra also hired the reigning ACC Women’s Softball Coach of the Year, Holly Aprile, to take over for the now retired Sandy Pearsall. As for UofL Baseball Coach Dan McDonnell, he believed enough in Tyra to sign a new contract to remain the head skipper of the Cardinals. Oh, and that guy named Jeff Walz who’s been pretty successful at building a powerhouse program for UofL Women’s Basketball also got a new contract.

Now comes perhaps Tyra’s most important decision since becoming the AD at UofL – the hiring of a new Head Football Coach. A decision of this magnitude could have far reaching consequences as Louisville fans have learned via Steve Kragthorpe and Bobby Petrino 2.0. Many believe that Jeff Brohm will be the replacement. Whether it’s Brohm or not, I’m thankful to have Vince Tyra making that decision. I trust that he will do what his best for the University of Louisville and its football program while being transparent every step of the way.

Go Cards!