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Friday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Get us through the holidays, ladies.

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—Spread check (Holiday Bowl): Louisville by 7.5.

—Louisville’s tight end room got a whole lot better this week with a pair of transfer portal additions.

—Latest Louisville football players in the transfer portal: WR Elijah Downing and CB Derrick Edwards. Additionally, Popeye Williams has committed to Western Michigan.

—The U of L women’s basketball team has hit the road for a Saturday showdown with old rival UConn. Here’s a preview.

—The annual Kyle Kuric toy drive is going down this Sunday at the Yum Center.

—Louisville Report’s Matt McGavic writes that after Wednesday’s embarrassments both on and off the courts, the end of the Kenny Payne era must come soon.

—Duke Transfer DT Aeneas Peebles, who is in town this weekend for a visit, is down to five schools: Louisville, Colorado, Missouri, Virginia Tech and SMU.

—Louisville baseball has named Logan Beard, JT Benson, Dylan Hoy, Isaac Humphrey and Evan Webster as its five captains for the 2024 season.

—As of yesterday, at least 370 players from 82 bowl teams had entered the Transfer Portal, while 44 players had opted out to prepare for the NFL Draft. This is what the non-playoff bowl season is going to look like for the foreseeable future.

—Only six teams have farther to travel this bowl season than Louisville.

—Malik Cunningham says being a part of the Ravens organization feels very “family oriented.”

—C.L. Brown writes about the apparent disconnect between Kenny Payne and his players.

—Storm Duck has accepted an invitation to play in the 2024 Hula Bowl.

—Pat Forde picks the winner for all 42 bowl games.

HOLIDAY BOWL (24)

Matchup: Louisville (10–3) vs. USC (7–5)

When: Dec. 27, 8 p.m.

Where: San Diego, Calif.

Line: Louisville by 7.5

Watchability ranking: 9th out of 42. First-ever matchup between the two schools provides a peek into the Trojans’ life after Caleb Williams, and an appraisal of where Louisville could be heading after its 10-win breakthrough in year one under Jeff Brohm. Plus, it’s San Diego.

Mascot fight: Tommy Trojan carves up Louisville’s bird costume.

Dash pick: Louisville 38, USC 28. USC’s power-conference opponents scored a touchdown more against the Trojans than their season average. The Cardinals averaged 31 points this season, so there’s the math on that. We’ll see whether USC can look like USC without Williams, and whether the players still actually care after a bust of a regular season. (Last time Louisville went out West for a bowl game was the game that put the program on the map: Howard Schnellenberger’s Cardinals blew out Alabama in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl.)

—The Athletic’s Justin Williams ranks the Holiday Bowl as the ninth-best bowl game of this year.

—UCF transfer cornerback Corey Thornton was on campus at U of L yesterday. He had 23 tackles, three interceptions and nine pass breakups this season.

—Mississippi State RB transfer Jo’Quavious Marks is headed to the West Coast for visits this weekend, but he was on U of L’s campus on Wednesday.

—I’m all in on Thor.

—Alabama transfer wide receiver Ja’Corey Brooks arrived last night for a U of L visit. Brooks is a former 5-star prospect from Miami who caught 8 touchdown passes for the Crimson Tide in 2022.

—Jeff Brohm is not one of the finalists for the Bear Bryant Coach of the Year alert.

—Gary Parrish of CBS joins the chorus of folks saying it’s time for Louisville to pull the plug on the Kenny Payne era.

Things have gotten so bad that I’m choosing to lead Thursday morning’s updated CBS Sports Top 25 And 1 daily college basketball rankings with 500 words on a program that should consistently be ranked but hasn’t even sniffed such things since Payne took over. It’s not an exaggeration to suggest this could go down as college basketball’s all-time worst hire when you consider where Louisville has historically operated and where Payne has taken the program so quickly. Not many things in sports are unimaginable, but Louisville ever being this terrible in basketball really was unimaginable until March 18, 2022.

That’s the day Payne was hired.

It’s been all bad ever since.

When you talk to people around Louisville, they’ll tell you the school couldn’t fire Payne after one season because they just love him too much to do that. When you talk to people around Louisville, they’ll tell you the school can’t fire Payne midseason because they just love him too much to do that.

But that’s silly.

At this point, it would actually be crueler for Louisville to continue to allow Payne to go out there and hold press conferences after losses than it would be to just pay him every penny the school owes him and let him walk away before things get worse. Because things will get worse. The sport of basketball is filled with people who are wonderful humans and great assistants but ill-equipped to run a top-10 program. Respectfully, all of the evidence suggests that Kenny Payne is one of those people. And that’s why, if the folks who run Louisville’s athletic department really love him as much as they say they love him, what they’ll do in the coming days is rescue him from this public humiliation so that everybody can start moving on and stop suffering through something that could’ve theoretically worked but just clearly isn’t and won’t.

—Brian Rauf of Heat Check CBB agrees.

—Eric Bossi of 247 Sports writes that firing Payne now is the most graceful path for both sides.

—College athletes who transfer twice can play immediately, for now, after a judge said it was unlawful for the NCAA to enforce its own rules.

—Despite the defections, the advanced stats still like USC in the Holiday Bowl.

—Coastal Carolina QB Grayson McCall has transferred to NC State.

—The U of L men’s tennis team’s spring schedule is set.

—Jeff Greer and Jack Grossman talk about the attractiveness of the Louisville men’s basketball head coaching job on the latest episode of the Floyd Street’s Finest pod.

—Lacy visited A&M last weekend and is visiting Louisville this weekend. This would be a big one.

—The best mid-majors in college basketball all have collectives now.

—Only Florida State and Clemson drew more eyeballs than Louisville in the ACC this football season.

—Former Louisville RB and Manual High product Aidan Robbins has entered the NFL Draft. Robbins spent the past two seasons at UNLV and BYU, respectively.

—Lamar is an alien.

—Louisville has offered Indiana RB Jaylin Lucas, one of the most explosive big play threats available in the portal.

—A good Twitter film breakdown of new U of L QB Tyler Shough starts here.

—Louisville football was one of the biggest winners in the ACC this season.

—Really gonna miss this guy next year.

—Four-star Louisville TE commit Dylan Mesman says that despite some of the rumors floating around, he will be signing with the Cardinals this week.

—The latest From the Pink Seats podcast episode is here.

—Matt Norlander and Jeremy St. Louis discuss (video) the status of Kenny Payne.

—The legendary St. Matthews White Castle is closing on Christmas Day. Thanks, Kenny.

—This is awesome.

—NC Sports Network has an ACC transfer portal tracker.

—Big Red Louie says Ashton Gillotte staying at U of L is Jeff Brohm’s biggest win of the “offseason” thus far.

—And finally, I’ll share what I know about the Louisville basketball coaching situation this afternoon from 3-6 on The Mike Rutherford Show on 1450/96.1. You can stream it here.