The 2019 University of Louisville Football team ______________________
You can finish the above sentence anyway you so choose. For me personally, I’ll do so while taking the high road by simply saying the following: “appears to actually have a surging pulse after being left for dead following a historically dreadful season in 2018.”
But caution Card fans, there’s no need to get TOO excited....at least not yet. Despite a glimmer of positivity on the horizon, allow me to remind you as a reader that my first hot take of the summer is that UofL is not going to beat Notre Dame to open the Scott Satterfield era. I repeat, Louisville will start the 2019 regular season with an 0-1 record.
There, I said it.
Go ahead and call me a hater if you wish. Describe me as a pessimist. Heck, you can even hit me with the “oh, you must be a closet UK fan” response. It matters not because none of those labels fit. Instead, I would prefer to be chronicled as a UofL realist - someone who sees things for what and where they are, begrudgingly accepts it and is fully prepared to deal with the consequences.
WHERE THINGS ARE
Thanks to retread head coach Bobby Petrino and a coaching staff that had been inserted together like a round peg in a square hole, the Cards are coming off an historic record-breaking season. Problem is, all of those aforementioned records certainly weren’t the type you as a fan would want to boast about. In layman terms, the 2018 defense was porous, at best. The offense was vanilla, inconsistent and inept. And the leadership was so bad and at times non-existent that many UofL fans began to wonder if Steve Kragthorpe really WAS as bad as we all once believed him to be.
Add all of the above factors together and it unequivocally tells the story of a football team that quite frankly sucked. I’m sorry if that’s harsh, but I think that’s being politically current.
So, that brings me to a word that beyond the shadow of doubt will play a pivotal role in judging the performance of this year’s UofL team and Scott Satterfield’s early coaching legacy in the eyes of fans and the media: EXPECTATIONS
Given where things for the UofL Football currently stand, and admittedly they ARE better (they couldn’t get worse), expectations should be vaguely elevated based on an injection of new directorship but most certainly tempered this season. After losing several players who were being counted on as heavy contributors in 2019 to the transfer portal at the end of last season’s colossal embarrassment (see Jon Greenard, Colin Wilson, Allen Love & Jordan Travis to name a few) and recruiting whiffs on landing the majority of high level in-state high school talent Cardinal fans need to embrace reality. The reality is that Coach Satterfield and his staff have their work cut out for them in a major way.
ACCEPTING THE SITUATION
I love Louisville Football. I really do. And I know there are thousands of others who love it an equal amount if not more than myself. Woefully, last season provided a weekly punch to the abdomen and groin and who knows possibly even bouts of depression, heartburn, stomach discomfort, double vision, etc.
Look, it probably tested my fanhood as much as anything I have ever experienced related to UofL Athletics. But alas, I continued to punish myself and watched the season play out and actually was rewarded when I found a dose of optimism following AD Vince Tyra showing Bobby the door. I felt terrible for the student athletes while at the same time knowing that their time at UofL could potentially be salvaged.
So how can this season be one that I don’t feel apprehensive about but rather bullishly sanguine?
The answer is simple: Accept the fact that college football rebuilds almost always take an extended amount of time to take place. As a fan, I want to believe differently. I want instant success. In short, I want Louisville Football to shock the world on September 2nd by knocking off a top 10 Notre Dame team.
But I am accepting and believing the notion that a win over the Irish and a program quick fix isn’t going to happen. Not overnight anyway. Can a fan not have hope? Well of course they can, but in doing so I warn that you could end up judging this team, its players and all the new coaches unfairly. A season opening loss would not ruin a Satterfield debut in my opinion nor would it define an entire slate of games to finish the rest of the year. I have accepted THAT.
DEALING WITH THE CONSEQUENCES
Here is where, as a staunch UofL supporter, I get truly selfish and arguably petty. As a “damaged” fan I desperately want my team, my alma mater, my primary artery to receiving college football satisfaction to perform well and win games because, frankly, it really kind of pains me to have to listen to the negativity from the media and the trash talk from certain opposing teams’ fanbases.
Is that a self-serving take? You bet it is.
Am I the only Louisville Football fan if others are being sincere and genuine that feels that way? Hell no.
If I had my druthers, I’d have to wait another 10-20 years (preferably never) before I have to …..
· see a nicely renovated Cardinal Stadium draped in a joyous mass of royal blue at season’s end
· hear Georgia Tech fans compare our defense to Swiss cheese
· listen to our head coach talk about sewing hair into hair at the football luncheon
· watch an opposing team plaster 77 points on us
· witness a team that gave up 50+ points in 5 straight games
Louisville Football has produced a Heisman winning quarterback, BCS Bowl wins, and countless NFL players in the past few decades. It’s anything but a perennial doormat. It WILL be back. It survived the possibility of the program being put to bed in the 80’s, the departure of Howard Schnellenberger, the Kragthorpe era, the loss of Charlie Strong and it will survive the Bobby 2.0 disaster.
But ultimate survival will take time. There has been significant damage done to the UofL program but nothing that cannot be remedied. As fans, let’s be honest with ourselves while at the same time expecting progress.
Before signing off let me be clear about a few things. I believe in Scott Satterfield and his staff. I think the majority of Card Nation does as well. I also trust Vince Tyra and his vision. I think this UofL roster has talent that is waiting to bust out. I am expecting a much better 2019 season that shows signs of progress on both sides of the ball. And with all that said, I’ll pray for a miracle Labor Day evening while embracing reality.
Prove me wrong, Cards. You’ve done it before.