Honest confession: when Jeff Brohm left Louisville at the altar, I was devastated. Like Odysseus after the Trojan War, or when Stephen Hillenburg returned to SpongeBob, our hero seemed prime for a triumphant homecoming. His candidacy was unimpeachable – the recruiting prowess, play calling wizardry, light speed CPR of Purdue football … all coming with the narrative flair and emotional impact of being a hometown legend.
But, like the Odyssey, things just didn’t go as planned. Brohm opted against the treacherous voyage across the Ohio. Which brings us to the new man for the job: Scott Satterfield of Appalachian State.
Satterfield has handled the honeymoon faze of this partnership with aplomb, displaying an “aw shucks” charm and infectious positive energy. He’s said all the things fans have been starving to hear: Local recruiting will be of upmost importance. There will be a family atmosphere in the program, sustained by players who are both good athletes and good men. The team will love learning under coaches that are not only teachers of a game, but role models for life.
We are already seeing tangible evidence of a new culture and new approach. The unfinished staff went scorched earth on the underwhelming recruiting class Louisville was set to bring in, insisting that they are seeking “the right guys” and won’t just fill numbers. Two top young assistants, Dwayne Ledford and Bryan Brown, are taking their talent to Louisville and have spoken glowingly of the culture that Satterfield inspires in a football program.
In fact, the new coach has so impressed, that some fans insist they are glad Brohm didn’t take the job and we ended up with the superior coach.
Those people may end up being correct. Maybe they won’t. There’s no way to tell for sure right now. The only certainty is that this fan base is ambitious about the possibilities for Louisville football in the ACC, and has sugarplum dreams of seeing that Cardinal logo pop up on the College Football Playoff Selection Show. We don’t care if the coach that gets us there is from Louisville or North Carolina or Lithuania.
Every fan is going to set their expectations for Satterfield based on what exactly they think Louisville football can be. Not by year one - but four, five, fifteen years from now – how will Louisville be perceived in the college football world? Personally, I think a realistic aim is to be an ACC equivalent of a Michigan State, a TCU or an Oklahoma State perhaps.
It isn’t a shock to see any of these programs with a Top 25 recruiting haul. It’s not stunning to see them with a Top 10 ranking or contending for a conference title. Going into these teams’ home stadiums is a dangerous proposition for the conference blue bloods, even in down years.
I was excited about the Brohm possibilities because I was sure that he, more than anyone else, could fulfill my own expectations for Louisville. That doesn’t mean he’s the only one that could. And Satterfield is doing more by the day to convince me, and others, that he is the right man for the job. He seems genuinely excited about being at Louisville, and fashioning a program that fans can be proud of. Maybe, hopefully, Scott Satterfield is the coach to show the college football universe just how high Louisville can climb.
Maybe he’ll even get one damn win against Clemson.