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Thursday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Beat UK.

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—Spread check (basketball): Kentucky by 14

—Spread check (Holiday Bowl): Louisville by 7.5

—The latest Jeff Brohm addition from the transfer portal is North Carolina CB Tayon Holloway.

—Brendan Quinn’s piece on Kenny Payne for The Athletic certainly has people talking, and for good reason. The whole thing is worth your time, but the most notable sections are the ones having to do with the Koron Davis situation and the quotes from former and current(!) players.

So what went wrong? In an interview with The Athletic, Davis says the practice at the root of the matter occurred in mid-November. That day, in a post-practice huddle, Payne told the group Davis bad-mouthed the team. “He told my teammates: ‘Koron said f— all y’all.’” Davis says. “Things escalated from there, but never turned physical.”

In a separate interview with The Athletic, a current Louisville player, granted anonymity so as to corroborate events without facing repercussions from the program, confirmed Davis’ retelling of the event.

Davis’ status with the team was limited after that day, but he was still part of the program. He maintained access to facilities, remained enrolled, and conducted occasional individual workouts with coaches. Program sources push back on the idea of a single incident being at the root of Davis’ quasi-suspension, but what’s clear is no one understood the terms.

Teammates were confused. So were fans and media. And athletic department officials. In an already combustible equation of a coach on the hot seat and a team losing games, now came controversy.

“It was so weird how they handled it,” the current player says.

Not great!

All that passion doesn’t disappear. It gets repurposed. A harsh shift has occurred from people supporting Kenny Payne as a person to people being so distraught by losing that it turns personal. Everything Payne says is seemingly subject to interpretation and attack. After this season opened with a 71-68 exhibition game loss to Kentucky Wesleyan, Payne said, “We can’t beat teams with talent. We’re never going to be the most talented team.” Payne meant his young team can’t simply show up and expect to win, but fans and media pounced on the quote.

After the loss to Indiana, when asked if he expected the Hoosiers to shift to a late zone defense, Payne said, “I did not. I knew (Mike Woodson) wouldn’t play zone — or I thought. He tricked me.” Again, the line scorched social media. Yet as of that day, Indiana had played, per Synergy, 27 possessions of zone defense and 5,781 in man-to-man in three years under Woodson. Twelve of those 27 zone possessions came in the final eight minutes against Louisville. Payne was justified to not prep for a zone. But all people heard was a struggling coach say he got tricked.

One program alum living in town, who requested anonymity to speak freely, says he dreads stopping at Starbucks for his daily coffee. He ducks his head, trying to be inconspicuous. But that’s impossible. He’s instantly recognized and the questions come before he can place an order. What do we do about Kenny? How’d it get so bad? Who should we hire?

Publicly, the ex-player voices support for Payne and the program. But truthfully?

“I think it’s too foregone at this point,” the ex-player said. “‘Sad’ is the word that comes to my mind, you know? By now, I would guess like 95 percent of the fan base has given up on this working. It’s hard to argue. The negativity is overwhelming.”

Multiple alums echoed the sentiment. That they don’t bother looking at social media anymore. They cringe seeing Yum! so barren. They worry about the current players trying to navigate something they didn’t sign up for.

Also bad!

—Florida State has called a board meeting for Friday to discuss potentially taking legal action to get out of the grant of rights.

—The Lexington Herald-Leader covers the odd nature of this year’s Louisville-Kentucky game.

—The CJ recaps Jeff Brohm’s haul from National Signing Day.

—We know, big dog.

—Could John Calipari be the one who ends the Kenny Payne era at Louisville?

—Matt McGavic shares his thoughts on Louisville’s 2024 football recruiting class.

—Three U of L men’s soccer players were selected in the MLS Superdraft.

—Highlights of the Louisville women’s basketball team knocking Washington from the ranks of the unbeatens last night:

—The CJ’s recap of the Cards’ win over the Huskies is here.

—The latest CC Podcast episode is here.

—The State of Louisville writes about the disastrous nature of the Kenny Payne era at Louisville to date.

—Homefield Apparel’s new Denny Crum shirt is glorious.

—The three finalists for the Steve Spurrier First-Year Coach of the Year Award: Jeff Brohm (Louisville), Jamey Chadwell (Liberty) and Barry Odom (UNLV).

—No power conference team in college basketball allows more open looks from three than Louisville.

—Count Reed Sheppard among the few people who think Louisville can beat Kentucky tonight.

—The Mike Rutherford Show will air from 3-4:30 today on 970-WGTK. At 4:30 we’ll hand the baton to the professionals for the real pregame show.

—And finally, beat Kentucky.