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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

We’ll always have Thanksgiving in the Bahamas.

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—Streaking the Lawn has four takeaways from Virginia’s win over Louisville.

—Louisville’s Emily Engstler is one of five finalists for the 2022 Cheryl Miller Award.

—U of L wide receiver Braden Smith has been suspended after a weekend arrest for assault and harassment of an ex-girlfriend.

—Mike Pegues handled an awful situation with poise and grace and honesty. I am a forever fan.

—Jeff Walz is one of 10 semifinalists for the Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year award.

—With the season officially over, Eric Crawford serves up his first Louisville men’s basketball coaching search hot board.

—Interested in playing some of the top Southern Indiana golf courses for just 25 bucks this spring/summer? Pick up one of the limited amount of 2022 Big X Sports Radio Golf Cards.

—Jeff Greer delivered a mini newsletter at the start of the week to update the U of L coaching search.

There are two pots of candidates: Kenny Payne and established college coaches whose teams will be in the NCAA Tournament. I don’t believe Louisville is considering any coaches of teams that won’t be in the Big Dance. U of L sources say the athletics department is developing rollout plans for a few candidates, but only a small group knows about the specifics of the project. “Josh (is) being quiet — very (tight-lipped),” one booster told me.

I can confirm Payne is included, as you’d expect. He is different from the other candidates in that he was a member of the 1986 national title team who later led the Cards to back-to-back Sweet 16s. His hiring would be painted as a coming home, a connection between Louisville’s historic past and what the university hopes is its bright future.

How should you read the timeline of events? Expect the rumor mill to ratchet up this week. New names have already surfaced in industry circles, in addition to the return of a few names I thought were eliminated. I’ll get to them below. But read into the search this way: If Payne is Louisville’s next coach — and I still would bet on that — I’d think it happens in the next two weeks. If Louisville still doesn’t have a coach by the week between the first/second rounds and the Sweet 16/Elite 8, there might be something else cooking.

His standard newsletter arrived this morning.

Heird has not yet held a formal interview with Kenny Payne (or any other candidates) as of Wednesday night, but as I have repeatedly said re: Payne, that is expected to happen soon. Other interviews may happen before the NCAA Tournament if candidates are willing to do so. I am confident Heird won’t make a hire without holding formal interviews with multiple candidates.

Beyond that, I have three quick notes …

(1) I learned today that buyouts can be negotiated in some cases. Make of that discovery what you will in terms of the candidates listed below. This could also be important because, as I said Monday, some buyouts are otherwise disqualifying for Louisville.

I put together a very rudimentary breakdown of several candidates’ salaries and buyouts. Before anyone freaks out about his placement, Kenny Payne is only at the bottom because he’s not a college coach, and while some NBA coaches do have buyout clauses, I have no knowledge that he does.

(2) With Ed Cooley and Andy Enfield out of the picture in Maryland’s search, industry sources see Kevin Willard as a strong contender now to get that job. I mention this only because I’d include him on the list of non-Payne, non-Cronin coaches who very well might get an interview. I think the world of Willard, but I can’t imagine he is in Louisville’s top three candidates.

—Rick Pitino’s top-seeded Iona Gaels were stunned by Rider in the quarterfinals of the MAAC tournament last night. They’ll have to settle for a trip to the NIT.

—Speaking of the NIT, Bellarmine was informed by the NCAA this morning that they will not be eligible to participate in that tournament either. The Knights were hoping for an amendment to the NCAA’s rule because of their unusual circumstances, but alas, the NCAA is forever going to NCAA.

For an organization that clearly values money above all else, they’re certainly leaving a lot on the table by refusing to allow Bellarmine vs. Iona at Freedom Hall in the NIT to happen.

—Opendorse says Hailey Van Lith is the second most-marketable player in women’s college basketball.

—The Athletic looks at this year’s potential Cinderellas and what tournament darlings from the past this year’s crop should remind people of.

—Louisville’s Louie the Cardinal Bird is No. 9 in this ranking of the best mascots in college basketball.

—Jody Demling lays out how the next Louisville men’s basketball coach can take the program back to the top.

—Duke wound up hanging on to beat Syracuse, but this is still tweet of the day.

—The 100th episode of the Card Chronicle Podcast dropped yesterday. Naturally, it wound up being the final day of the men’s basketball season.

—ESPN’s Jeff Borzello is the guest on Greer’s podcast this week.

—The Louisville baseball team took down No. 15 TCU on Tuesday. They’ll begin a three-game home set against Michigan tomorrow afternoon.

—It was a “Knucklebuster Game” last night at the Barclays Center.

—The over-the-top emotion transitioning directly into a deal for Doritos is incredible.

This one will also take you back:

—Here’s what Tony Bennett and the Virginia players had to say after last night’s win over Louisville.

—The CJ looks ahead to what’s next for Cardinal basketball.

—David Levitch, Terry Howard, David Padgett and North Oldham are headed to the Boys Sweet 16.

—Happy 10-year anniversary to Louisville taking down Cincinnati in the title game of the 2012 Big East tournament and capping one of the most fun weeks of all-time.

The two weeks that followed were pretty cool too.

—The Louisville men’s tennis team is No. 36 in this week’s national rankings.

—The U of L women’s basketball team is still holding onto a No. 1 seed in the most recent Bracketology from ESPN.

—And finally, the Mike Rutherford Show is back this afternoon to put a bow on the 2021-22 men’s basketball season and look ahead to what’s next. You can listen live on 1450 AM, 96.1 FM or streaming here.