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Maybe it's time U of L fans get used to the "new norm" and the patience that comes with a reset

COVID-19 brought with it its own "new normal," but college sports has one of its own, too. How the CFP plays out, the transfer portal, NIL, the ugly influence coaches and other parties might be exerting on summer youth leagues, and the NBPA is continuing discussions with the NBA on lowering the league's minimum age requirement, which could likely to be in place by this year's draft, effectively putting schools that depend on the one-and-done pipeline in a world of hurt.

The University of Louisville is trying to find its new normal, too. The power that the school was able to wield from Crum and Pitino, and Smith to Petrino to Strong has slowly dissipated and has shifted to other schools, leaving Cards fans frustrated, some claiming that the MBB and Football programs are lost at the crossroads wondering which way to go.

Be thankful for what you've got

No, this is not "our father's U of L sports," but this isn't 1980 or 1986, either. Things have changed across the entire college sports landscape. When U of L was at our peak, others weren't, but now, the narrative has flipped, somewhat organically.

There are those among us who are happy that we've been saved from the tub of goo that Florida State, Miami, Penn State, et al melted into. And many of those school's histories says that their fans have had to suck their thumb much longer that U of L's fans have. Try being a UCLA MBB fan. They've endured the roller coaster ride of more than 10 coaches trying to recapture John Wooden's magic.

Others will relish in the fact that U of L has as many national MBB championships as Kansas and more than Michigan or Michigan State and a litany of others.

Still others will cheer the fact that U of L is not merely a two-sport school and relish in the fact that Women's Basketball, Volleyball, Field Hockey, Baseball, and other sports are frequently national title contenders in their own right. Btw, if your sulking is getting old, go to a U of L baseball game or volleyball match. Their fans are packing their spaces and loving every vibrant minute of what those players bring to the game.

Looking on the bright side of life, some of us will look back on the last 20 years and be grateful for having not one, but two programs that were relatively successful -- producing a Heisman winner, hanging our third National Champ banner, clobbering 'Bama in the Fiesta Bowl, miracle comebacks, and taking home the hardware from the Orange Bowl, all the while living inside and flirting with Top 10 college football rankings several times and Top 10 spots and three overall #1 seeds and a multitude of Top 4 seeds in the Big Dance. The facts prove that U of L has been comparatively stronger than many schools who only had success in one sport.

Mack and Satterfield deserve some space ... and trust

Remember 2010 when U of L MBB was embarrassed by Drexel, went 20-13, and pummeled by California in the first round of the NCAA? Or January 2013, when the Cards lost three in a row, but pulled their act together to go on a magic carpet ride through the ATL?

Do you remember that we allowed Howard Schnellenberger to take mulligans for 2-9 and 5-6 seasons sandwiched between 10-1 and 9-3 campaigns? Or Charlie Strong the time and tools necessary to get past his losses against Marshall, FIU, et al, and take us back to the promised land we felt we deserved?

I argue that Coach Mack and Coach Satterfield deserve the same time and respect. Throwing dispersions at them is getting us nowhere. Remember, neither were crapshoot hires -- they are the ones we had at the top of our wish list to begin with.

Trust me -- Mack and Satt look at themselves in the mirror every single day trying to find their way through this. IMHO, they might be failing, but I believe they're doing their best to fail forward and correct their program's ills as quickly as humanly possible. Need proof? Just look at how Satterfield is already realigning his chess pieces.

And the NCAA?

We U of L fans can't throw dispersons at the NCAA either because it was doing what it -- albeit subjectively -- thought was the "right" thing to do. You know the axiom: "When you point one finger, there are three fingers pointing back to you." Had we not screwed up with Strippergate or trusting that we were in safe harbor because Arizona, USC, OK State, LSU, Auburn, and Kansas were also along for Adidas' ride, using grad assistants in scrimmages, etc., we would've been saved from the hara-kiri that we initiated ourselves.

Had we fought our infractions like UNC did or steeled ourselves like KU has instead of bowing to the powers in Indy and genuflecting, we might have saved ourselves from this pit, too. We didn't and we have to face that music.

Two things to consider: One, this started at the top and will finish at the top

The Athletic Department was well protected until Jim Ramsey donned that sombrero and began cucaracha'ing himself out of a job and leaving Pitino and Jurich's arses uncovered. In the final analysis, he probably gave Rick and Tom too much rope, but he understood the value of the fan base and loved the revenue stream from the athletic department so much that he did what he could to keep both things spinning forward.

The same can't be said for Greg Postel or Neeli Bendapudi. They weren't to blame for the athletic program's mistakes, but they didn't offer any solace or protection of the school's pride. And for better or worse, that's where the next flip of the switch will come -- the school's next President.

If U of L gets a new chief who appreciates those in the supply chain of athletic love and is deft enough bring success academically and athletically, or stand by their man like Jay Gogue at Auburn is doing with the infractions -- and victories -- that Bruce Pearl brings to the party, then all could be good. If the university hires a honcho who wants U of L to be the Yale of the South, then those who love to throw their L's upward could be in for more handwringing.

And... two, it might take time

We in Cards Nation need to show that we're a patient bunch. The funk our Football and Men's Basketball programs are in at the moment is likely cyclical. Yes, cyclical like Georgia, like Baylor, like Arizona State, like UCLA, like So Cal, like IU, like Texas, like Tennessee, yadda yadda. We have been there before and we did survive.

Quick fixes are a gamble. Just like John Calipari found out the hard way that it's not easy getting one-and-done'ers to play team ball, Chris Mack is learning that the transfer portal can be an island of misfits who often want the same spotlight as a Diaper Dandy, especially because they've got precious little time on their collegiate clock to prove their value.

Even if Mack or Satterfield are shown patience and still don't pan out, a successful change-out could take years. Why? Because identifying the next Nick Saban or Chris Beard requires luck, going deep to a Toledo (Saban) or Seminole State (Beard), finding a formula that works (a la Scott Davenport @ Bellarmine), convincing the fans that their brand of ball is worthy of paying to see, and some deep breathing exercises.

And Jeff Brohm or Kenny Payne as our saviours? Another crapshoot -- if they even wanted to risk the safe harbor they currently have. For every Deion Sanders who might make it, there is a Matt Doherty who didn't or a Danny Manning who hasn't yet.

We've shown patience before when we bought into Howard Schnellenberger's "collision course" estimation and we gelled as a fan base in our buy-in. We never wavered from our belief that Rick Pitino would get us back to that "one shining moment" again despite ugly NIT exits and dumb losses (e.g Drexel), a sideline meltdown by Terrence Williams that cost us a spot in the Final Four, and other gut punches.

How about we press pause for a bit?

I suggest that what seems like chronic, schoolwide irritable bowel syndrome is anything but. However, we are running the risk of acting like spoiled rotten kids, pissy U.S. Congressional peeps, and shaming our Commonwealth's motto.

Put the guillotine back in the garage and keep the indictments off the airwaves, folks. If, in fact, we consider ourselves "Cards Nation," then let's act like it and be true to our school and trust the process. Things will get better.