As I begin to type this, we are about 17 hours away from Louisville and Florida State kicking off in Cardinal Stadium. What was thought to be a much bigger game nationally before the season started has now turned into a survival game. This could change the seasons for both teams. Whoever wins will see a glimmer of hope and have some much-needed positive momentum. For the loser? Well, that team will be 2-3 and heading in a downward spiral towards a season of disappointment. Here is my fear: a loss on Saturday for Louisville, and a big portion of the fan base will check out of football season and start to get ready for what’s next, Louisville basketball.
I am writing this just a few hours removed from watching the Louisville Live event and being all wrapped up and consumed with Chris Mack and his starter jacket, Darius Perry donning a Darrell Griffith jersey and then a Donovan Mitchell jersey, and the excitement of hoops in general. So, I hope I am not just being a prisoner of the moment here. But there is SO MUCH excitement around Louisville basketball right now. Two open gyms for fans to watch the team play, the great recruiting class that nobody in the country thought we could get, the interaction from the social media side of things, Louisville Live, and a third open gym happening Saturday morning at 11:00 a.m. There is just so much going on and it is finally on the positive side. We need it. I am pretty sure we have earned it as fans.
Now flipping back to the gridiron. Fans are not happy. The 2-2 start has looked bad. A sloppy win over Indiana State, a narrow win over WKU, a dominating loss without a touchdown last week at Virginia. The fan base is starting to split. Some want Bobby Petrino gone, while some say he has done enough to earn more time to get out of this mess. Some want Puma Pass to start, and some want Malik Cunningham or even Jordan Travis to get the call. But one thing we can all agree on is that this is not what we expected.
If Florida State comes into Cardinal Stadium and leaves with a win, as they are expected to as 7-point favorites according to Bovada (what does he know?), some people will just be done with football this season and turn their attention to basketball. Now I know there is not another public event for basketball until the Red-White scrimmage in late October (unless these open gyms continue), so maybe it’s more of a “checking out of football” than it is “turning the page to basketball” because there would be those few weeks in the middle there where there is nothing for that portion of the fanbase. There is plenty to do in the city of Louisville. The next home game is on a Friday night, but if the Cards come out and play like they did against Virginia and drop to 2-3, people will find something better to do on their Friday.
It’s around this time that I start to get excited and think about how things can turn around if Louisville wins. I did it to myself last week. I convinced myself we would beat Virginia and be on our way to a 5-1 start to the season. I find myself doing it now. Beat Florida State, then a down Georgia Tech team, and you are 4-2 going into games against Boston College (are they good or not?) and Wake Forest. Steal one against Boston College and then you can beat Wake and be 6-2. But no. I am NOT doing that this time. I was burned last week. I need to see it happen on the field. I need a reason to believe that is even possible. There was a players-only meeting on Sunday. Great. Make it worthwhile. Otherwise, I am joining the crowd that doesn’t want to hear about meetings and how competitive things are at practice. Nobody cares if you are losing. Then players tweet about fans, fans respond to the players, and it’s just all bad from there. We don’t need that from either side. Winning cures a lot.
Chris Mack’s swagger, Jordan Nwora and Ryan McMahon as the Splash Brothers 2.0, Darius Perry’s shenanigans, V.J. King finally having a breakout year, the loaded non-conference schedule, the always tough ACC schedule…basketball season is nearly upon us! Will we be able to hang on to football a little while longer?
Maybe the Louisville-Florida State game won’t make headlines nationally as we once thought. But around here, it could mean the difference between “it’s still football season” and “ready for basketball season” for some people.
Go Cards. Go Krogering.