Chris Mack, bless his heart, is a man of his word.
At his introductory press conference, he immediately endeared himself to the crowd. Though not as much as his toddler who won over everyone while scampering about hither and yon.
Mack reached out to the former Cardinals that fans have loved through the decades, welcoming them back from exile to again become integral parts of the program. Which sounded great, but was it just lip service?
Thankfully, the answer to that is a resounding NO. He means it.
I had dinner the other night with some pals from our days matriculating at Belknap Campus. Including Mike Grosso.
I asked the former Cardinal big man if Mack had followed up on his promise.
Indeed he has, I’m pleased to report.
Mack hosted a cocktail reception for former Cardinals. Open bar. Lots of food. Genuine gladhanding. Mack introduced the staff member for the guys to contact for tickets. (“Please no request for 12 for the Kentucky game.”) And introduced the staff member for access to practice.
Grosso explained how he particularly loves practice. (More than the games because the seats and aisles at the Yum! are too cramped for his 6-10 frame.) When he asked the staff guy with practice access responsibilities how much notice he’d need to give if he wanted to attend, the fellow looked at him quizzically.
In essence, the guy said, just give me a call, we’ll let you in.
Sweet fresh air.
* * * * *
The Cards non-conference slate was revealed today.
It’s got a Denny Crum feel to it, way tougher than recent years. Two of this trio in New York: Tennessee, Kansas, Marquette. Michigan State at home. At Seton Hall. At Indiana. Kentucky the last Saturday of the year.
Plus the usual tougher than most of its ilk exhibition against Bellarmine, always feisty Vermont and Kent State.
Can’t wait for the new era to begin, except for one thing. I’ve got a conflict on opening night of regular season, when Nicholls State comes calling.
Background: Back in the day I attended a Louisville Gardens concert with Neil Young and Linda Ronstadt, instead of going to a Cardinal game at Freedom Hall. It was the first time I’d ever allowed something else to have priority over a Cardinal game. After the show I had a little fender bender at 2d and Liberty, and ended up with my date in the ER at University Hospital, getting stitched up.
Serves me right, thought I, vowing never to miss another home Cardinal game for a concert again. And have not done so.
Buuuuuuuuuuuuut, that opener, Chris Mack’s first game daggone it, is the same night as a Palace gig by Tedeschi Trucks Band, my current faves. I’ve already got tickets.
Older, wiser, soberer, more circumspect, I’ll not miss TTB, and will tape the game.
But I gotta tell ya. I’m feeling guilty about it already. I think I’ll let somebody else drive.
* * * * *
Given how fans are wont to be, my belief is that local Cardinal faithful don’t understand how warily the rest of the nation views the school and its teams after all the travails of recent years.
This struck me again one day a couple of weeks ago, when I surfed over to espn.com.
In the upper right corner of the home page are always listed five to seven or so “Top Headlines.”
That day, three were about U of L. Pitino’s suit against Adidas being dismissed. Chane Behanan’s arrest. And the Papa John N word kerfuffle. (Though President Bendapudi’s swift action in response was soon universally lauded across the blogosphere.)
I am so ready for on field, on court action, so we can just talk about the games.
But there was one smile inducing U of L meme that day. A recent female graduate had posted a photo of herself on Instagram. She was standing on campus, with The Thinker in the background, and she was holding aloft a dildo.
It was apparently meant to be a funny response to a picture some other woman had posted at some other school, walking to graduation or something with an AK47 strapped across her shoulder.
I’m tellin’ ya, kids these days.
-- Seedy K