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Friday afternoon Cardinal news and notes

Norm Brahen brings the Summer Tour to the site of the ancient Olympics in Olympia, Greece.

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—Louisville football is kicking off a big month of recruiting with a loaded slate of 2024 visitors this weekend.

—After entering the portal months ago and then returning to school, U of L linebacker K.J. Cloyd is now back in the transfer portal.

—ESPN’s big ACC football preview is here, and it views Louisville as a massive wildcard for the conference.

Does Jeff Brohm still have the magic first-year touch?

The 2016 Purdue Boilermakers were, in a word, dismal. Fourth-year coach Darrell Hazell was fired midway through a 3-9 season and left town with an overall record of 9-33. The offense was occasionally interesting, but the defense kept figuring out ways to get worse. It felt like first-year coach Jeff Brohm was facing a long-term rebuild heading into 2017.

But in his first game, with help from very few transfers, the Boilermakers nearly knocked off Lamar Jackson and Louisville. Two weeks later, they clocked Missouri on the road, 35-3. After a midseason offensive funk, they knocked off Iowa, rival Indiana and then Arizona in a wild Foster Farms Bowl to finish 7-6. In one year, Purdue jumped from 108th to 54th in SP+. Brohm didn’t necessarily improve things much further — the Boilermakers went 29-35 with an average SP+ ranking of 55.8 after that initial turnaround — but this was an incredible first impression.

Brohm’s second first year at a major program will be different in a couple of ways. For one thing, the former Louisville quarterback inherits a team that has already rebounded a bit. After slipping to 4-7 in 2020, Scott Satterfield’s Cardinals moved back to 8-5 and 33rd in SP+ last fall. Only a couple of narrow conference defeats (to FSU and Boston College by a combined five points) prevented an even bigger year.

For another thing, Brohm isn’t looking to simply make the most of what he inherits. He has been as aggressive as anyone not named Deion Sanders in the transfer portal, adding 25 transfers and counting, including power-conference starters in Cal quarterback Jack Plummer, Purdue tackle Eric Miller, Stanford defensive end Stephen Herron and a load of defensive backs including UNC corner Storm Duck. He also brought in maybe Georgia State’s two best players in receiver Jamari Thrash and defensive tackle Jeffery Clark.

Add that to inherited stars in running back Jawhar Jordan, all-conference center Bryan Hudson and cornerback Jarvis Brownlee Jr., and Louisville is the biggest wild card in the conference. Maybe chemistry problems will arise, and Brohm’s magic first-year touch no longer applies. Or maybe an already solid team leaps to a top-15 level of play and becomes the de facto No. 3 challenger in the ACC. There might still be depth issues at receiver and linebacker, but there’s a lot to like here, and the last time Brohm changed schools, short-term magic followed.

—Andy Katz has an updated offseason Bracketology. It does not feature Louisville.

—The latest Cardinal Sports Zone podcast is here.

—Cardinal Authority looks at Louisville’s highest-rated hoops recruits since 2000.

—Suck it, Wittenberg.

—Special Olympics Kentucky’s summer games are back to having a full schedule for the first time since 2019.

—The 7th annual Ali Fest is happening this weekend.

—The CJ looks at the questions facing Kenny Payne’s second Cardinal basketball roster.

—We’re just over two weeks away from the Cards Youth Football Camp.

—The Kentucky-Indiana All-Star basketball games are happening in Louisville this weekend.

—Louisville has offered 5-star offensive tackle Josh Petty from the class of 2025.

—The Athletic dives into the early days of Rick Pitino’s latest (final?) chapter in coaching.

Getting the Garden popping again for St. John’s would represent quite the resurrection for the program and its new coach, but Pitino brushes aside the notion that he has something to prove in the wake of his unseemly dismissal from Louisville six years ago. He points not only to the ruling of the NCAA’s Independent Accountability Resolution Process (IARP), which exonerated him last year from any culpability related to the violations that were unearthed by the FBI’s investigation into college basketball, but also the arguments of the school’s lawyers who made the (self-serving) case that he was not responsible for any of those transgressions. “When they said that, I lost all my bitterness completely,” Pitino says.

Now that he has brought in all this talent, it’s up to Pitino to blend those new parts into a cohesive whole, just as he has done so often throughout his Hall of Fame career. He’s not motivated by revenge, and he doesn’t claim to have a chip on his shoulder. He’s just grateful that his long and winding career have brought him back home, and at a place where he can win big and stir excitement in New York City. “I realize I’m not going to be coaching forever,” he says. “I’ve signed a six-year contract, and God willing I can fulfill it. This is my last opportunity to coach, so I want to make the best of it.”

—The Louisville Bats have now won eight of their last nine and are five games over .500.

—Catch Elly De La Cruz in a Bats uniform while you can.

—Former U of L women’s golf star Lauren Hartlage fired an opening round 65 to take the lead after day one of the LPGA’s Mizuho Americas Open.

—And finally, the Mike Rutherford Show wraps up the week this afternoon form 3-6 on 1450 The Big X. You can stream the show here.