Tag Archives: charlie strong

Photo by Michelle Lewis

Bobby Petrino back at the helm

By Annie Moore—

Former University of Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino is taking back the reins of the football program. Petrino was offered the position Wednesday, and his appointment was announced at a press conference and fan reception on Thursday.

“It’s great to be home,” was Petrino’s constant refrain during the conference. His prodigal return to Louisville after his fall from grace just eight years ago has been met with varied responses since his name was added to athletic director Tom Jurich’s short list of candidates. Jurich has vehemently confirmed that he is committed to making the best choice for Louisville.

“I will not let this place down, this place means everything to me” Jurich said. “Bobby and I have a lot of history together. Some of it’s great, some of it is not great, and I knew that. The coach he was eight years ago is not the coach I want to hire. 180 degrees he’s changed, I told him I only wanted 170 degrees, that other ten percent was the old guy we want back.”

Petrino was head coach at Louisville from 2003 to 2006, before leaving for a brief stint in the National Football League with the Atlanta Falcons. After leaving the Falcons after just 13 games, Petrino was head coach of the Arkansas Razorbacks, where he infamously was fired for inappropriate conduct. Petrino just finished up his first season as the head coach at Western Kentucky University.

Petrino was 41-9 in his first three years with the Cardinals, including the program’s first BCS bowl win, and he went 4-0 against the University of Kentucky in his time at Louisville. While this gained him favor with fans, the manner in which he left not only ruffled the feathers of CardNation, but many inside the department, Jurich included.

Headed into its first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference and coming off the sting of Charlie Strong’s departure, many fans are reluctant to trust a man who has already scorned the program once. Petrino addressed these concerns Thursday morning.

“I want everybody here to know, this is my destination job, I can’t wait to get started,” Petrino said. “It’s a privilege to see how everything has moved along, we’re now going into the ACC. It’s a great challenge to see the schedule coming up and I can’t wait to play that schedule.”

University of Louisville President James Ramsey weighed in on the decision to hire the estranged coach.

“Every chance we get to talk about the University of Louisville, we talk about the amazing trajectory we’re on,” Ramsey said. “It’s a trajectory that is amazing in terms of academics and athletics, our mandate and goal is to continue on that trajectory. To do that, we have to have the right people. We’ve got the very best person to lead the Cardinal football team forward into the ACC. This is Tom’s decision, but it is supported by the university.”

While the University of Louisville Athletic Association unanimously confirmed Petrino Thursday morning, the jury is still out on whether the new and improved Petrino will live up to the hype. One thing made perfectly clear, is that he is ready to start this new chapter at Louisville.

“I’m more energized, I’m more excited than I’ve ever been, to be back,” Petrino said. “Having the opportunity to be in the stadium brings back some of the best memories. I’ve made mistakes both professionally and personally, it’s just something that I’m not going to do again.This is our home, I’m just really excited to be a Card.”

 

Photo Courtesy of Kevin C Cox/Getty Images

Charlie Strong takes head coaching job at University of Texas

By Annie Moore

 

Less than a week after losing its starting quarterback, the University of Louisville football program took another big hit on Saturday. Head Football Coach Charlie Strong accepted an offer to become the Head Coach at the University of Texas.

After much media speculation Friday night and all day Saturday, Strong officially accepted the offer Saturday night. Strong spoke with Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich following a staff meeting Saturday morning before making the commitment official. It was reportedly important to Strong to speak to Jurich before the announcement was made.

Before Coach Strong’s arrival, Louisville had three-consecutive losing seasons. Strong was 37-15 in his four years at Louisville, including three bowl wins and two consecutive double-digit win seasons.

Strong’s $3.7 million base salary at Louisville made him one of the top ten highest-paid college football coaches in the country.

Strong is the third big name to announce his departure from Louisville in the past week. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater and Safety Calvin Pryor both announced earlier in the week that they would enter the 2014 National Football League draft.

Despite his desire to meet with Jurich before making it official, Strong neglected to hold a meeting with the team. Many players found out their coach was leaving through social media and television reports.

This is an ongoing story, the Louisville Cardinal will monitor and provide updates as they become available. 

Photo Courtesy of Lauren Kremer, the News Record

Louisville keeps Keg of Nails

By Annie Moore

Teddy Bridgewater led the Cardinal offense to a victory in an overtime thriller against rival Cincinnati in what looks to be the final Keg of Nails, at least for a while. 23 completions in 37 attempts for 255 yards and three touchdowns don’t even cover the late-game heroics of the team leader.

The Cards struck first early in the first quarter. Sixth-year senior QB for the Bearcats, Brendon Kay was picked off on Cincinnati’s first drive by Charles Gaines. Louisville took over at its own 40-yard line and in just four plays and 1:47, Bridgewater connected with DeVante Parker for the first touchdown of the game to give the Cards the 7-0 lead after the extra point from John Wallace.

In the second quarter, Wallace put three more points on the board for Louisville with a made field goal, before Kay ran it in for Cincinnati to put the score at 10-7 at the half.

The Bearcats struck again in the third quarter, again at the hands of Kay. Kay rushed for a two-yard TD to give UC its first lead of the game.

The fourth quarter saw explosive offense from both sides. The Cards drew first blood in the fourth, when Damien Copeland caught a 22-yard pass from Bridgewater to put the cards back on top. It was this drive that showcased Bridgewater’s heroics most prominently. After single-handedly converting a fourth and 12, Bridgewater under immense pressure threw a perfect pass to Copeland in the corner of the end-zone to give the Cards the advantage.

“I thought he was sacked,” Said Cardinals Head Coach Charlie Strong. “He was moving around in the pocket and I thought the guy pulled him off and then all of the sudden he threw it and I thought it was going out of the back of the end zone, but then (Damian Copeland) makes the catch. It was an unbelievable play by Teddy.”

It looked for a minute like Teddy’s efforts were going to be to no avail, when just 45 seconds letter, Ralph David Abernathy IV rushed for a 15-yard touchdown, putting the Bearcats back on top.

But Bridgewater and his troops weren’t done. Louisville’s offense marched back down the field and 11 plays, 60 yards and 4:44 later, the Cards were back on top 24-21.

The Bearcats had the ball with just over two minutes on the clock. Kay led the offense back down the field but had to put its fate in kicker Tony Miliano, who was just 5-14 on the season. Miliano made the field goal to tie the game at 24-24 at the end of regulation.

UC won the toss to start overtime and elected to be on defense to start. After a drive where Louisville’s offense looked anything but lights out, a pass-interference call in the end-zone on Leviticus Payne for the Bearcats, put Louisville just two yards away from the end-zone. Dominique Brown rushed to put the Cardinals on top 31-24.

The Bearcats could not respond and for the second-consecutive Keg of Nails victory for the Cards in overtime. With Louisville moving to ACC play next year, it is the last installment in this celebrated rivalry.

“I am just excited. I actually told my mom that I wanted to cry,” Bridgewater said. “Tears of joy. I am just proud of this team and we showed that we have heart. We still have a lot to play for. It is not about us, it is about this brand on the front of our jerseys. The guys fought and I am extremely proud of those guys.”

Following the win, Louisville accepted a bid to go to the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, FL on December 28.

 

Photo by Austin Lassell

Strong’s first recruiting class changes Louisville football culture

By Sam Draut

As 20 seniors walked off the field at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium for the final time after a 24-17 win over Memphis on Saturday, the mood was rather subdued.

The 46,421 fans in attendance said goodbye to a group of seniors who had resurrected the Louisville football program, going 35-15 and reeling off four consecutive bowl games.

“I told them there are not too many teams around the country that can say they have 10 wins back-to-back and are 21-3 in their last 24 games,” U of L head coach Charlie Strong said. “I don’t care who you play. It doesn’t really matter. You’re 21-3 in the last two years.”

Some seniors came to Louisville as it dipped down into obscurity under Steve Kragthorpe. Hakeem Smith, Damian Copeland, Champ Lee, and Roy Philon were a part of Kragthorpe’s 2009 recruiting class and redshirted the final year of his tenure.

When Strong was hired in December 2009, he faced the task of rebuilding a depleted football team.  He sold the recruits on the future of Louisville football and the role they could play in building it up.

Strong was able to sway recruits like B.J. Butler and Preston Brown who were committed to other schools.  The recruits bought into his vision for the future.

Because his roster was undermanned, Strong was forced to play his freshmen.

This group of seniors battled as underclassmen, though they were bruised and beaten, they helped to lead Louisville to its first bowl appearance and bowl victory since 2006.

“I just know this, the reason we are in the position we are right now is because of the hard work that they put into our program,” Strong said.

The 7-6 season that culminated at the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl in Tampa, Florida laid a foundation for the future.

Strong’s first year success rejuvenated the program and brought in players like Teddy Bridgewater, Calvin Pryor, DeVante Parker and Eli Rogers.

After two consecutive bowl trips and seasons finishing at 7-6, Strong’s first recruiting class headed into their junior year which ended in historic fashion.

The Sugar Bowl victory over number three Florida included a touchdown catch from Copeland, Brown and Hakeem Smith combining for 20 tackles and Marcus Smith bursting off the edge for the game clinching sack.

These 20 seniors entered into their final year at U of L with a preseason ranking of ninth nationally.

The Cardinals climbed up to sixth in the country, but lost 38-35 to Central Florida, potentially ending their chances at a BCS Bowl and a Conference Championship.

Louisville sits at 10-1 and has one remaining regular season game against Cincinnati.  U of L’s BCS Bowl hopes appear miniscule as UCF has two remaining games against teams without winning records.

A season that began with talks of Louisville running the table and coasting to another Conference Championship and BCS berth could now end in discontent.

Since when has 10 wins been considered a disappointment in the Louisville football program?

These seniors have radically changed the culture of the program.  As freshmen, six wins and a bowl appearance was enough for Strong to be nominated Coach of the Year.  As seniors, 10 wins isn’t enough to stamp a distinguished seal on the season.

Regardless of how the final weeks of the regular season shake out, this group can claim two Conference championships, four bowl berths, and a BCS victory.

There aren’t too many classes in Louisville football history with a similar resume.  These 20 seniors bought in Strong’s vision and followed him with unflinching fate as they built up the program.

“I just wanted them to know how special they are and how much they have put into the program and how far the program has come,” Strong said. “For this group it was so special.”

 

Photo by Jessica Kneel

Football defeats Houston 20-13

By Sam Draut

Dominique Brown churned out 137 yards on 27 carries and two touchdowns to lead No. 19

Louisville to a 20-13 victory over Houston.

“The line did a good job of blocking early for him and he was able to run through blocks. The

thing he doesn’t do is get knocked back. He runs physical and strong and as the game goes on he

gets stronger and stronger,” U of L head coach Charlie Strong said.

After a 12-play, 77-yard opening drive that ended with a 13-yard Brown touchdown, the

Cardinal offense stalled for most of the first half and Houston took a 13-10 lead into halftime.

“We had a disappointing first half. We jumped out to a 10-0 lead and we felt like we could

continue to play well and then add more points to it. We kind of got complacent and got

comfortable. Offensively we didn’t do a good job of continuing to move the ball,” Strong said.

Teddy Bridgewater orchestrated a seven-play, 70-yard touchdown drive in the first possession of

the second half, giving the Cardinals a 17-13 lead. The junior quarterback finished 19-29 for 203

yards.

Bridgewater did not throw for a touchdown, snapping his streak of 21 games with a touchdown

pass. Also, his 203 passing yards was Bridgewater’s season low.

With the passing attack stagnant, U of L relied on Brown to carry the load. The junior running

back logged career highs in carries and rushing yards including 50 yards in the third quarter.

“I feel good but this is not an individual performance. The offensive line did a great job up front

on lead blocks. Our tight ends did a great job, our quarterback is doing a great job every night with

getting us in the running game,” Brown said.

The Cardinal defense controlled the line of scrimmage, limiting Houston to 74 rushing yard on

29 carries. Senior defensive tackle Roy Philon finished with a career high seven tackles, one sack

and three tackles for a loss.

Philon and defensive ends Marcus Smith and Lorenzo Mauldin each finished with one sack,

contributing to another dominant performance by the defensive line.

“It’s really hard work, it started back in camp when we all clicked together as a defensive line, we

all believe and trust in one another,” Philon said.

The 7-3 Cougars were limited to 195 total yards of offense and just 41 yards in the second half.

“I’m feeling really good about the defense right now. The only thing that matters is that we got

the win. The guys played hard,” Pryor said. “As a defense right now I feel like we’re stepping up

in big moments. We’re number one on third down for a reason. Guys are getting home, guys are

playing coverage. We’re just playing as one right now.”

U of L has two remaining games as they sit behind Central Florida, who currently holds sole

possession of first place in the AAC. The Cardinals face Memphis next Saturday at Papa John’s

Cardinal Stadium at noon.

“We’re only going to worry about what we can control. We have to focus on ourselves. We still have a

season and something to play for so we’re not paying attention to that at all,” Bridgewater said. “It is college

football and anything happens, so we’ll just continue to focus and shift.”

Photo by Austin Lassell

Football improves to 7-1

By Sam Draut

The number 18 University of Louisville football team defeated South Florida 34-3 on Saturday at Raymond

James Stadium in Tampa.

After being dealt its first loss last week, the 7-1 Cardinals were led by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater who threw

for 344 yards completing 25 of 29 passes for two touchdowns. Bridgewater has thrown for over 300 yards six times

this season.

The defense returned to form after giving up 446 yards of total offense and 38 points last week. U of L held the,

2-5 Bulls to just 133 total yards and eight first downs.

“You can’t let one game beat us twice and we weren’t going to let that game last week come and beat us again,” U

of L head coach Charlie Strong said.

Led by linebackers Preston Brown and James Burgess who finished with four tackles a piece, the defense allowed

just 38 yards rushing on 20 attempts.

“Those guys are a reliable group of guys and they live up to expectations,” Bridgewater said.

Defensive end Marcus Smith finished with two of the Cardinals four sacks.

The U of L offense controlled the tempo, dominating time of possession at 41:43 compared to USF’s 18:17.

Dominique Brown highlighted the rushing attack in his first start of the season, running for 134 yards on 18

carries. Also, he led the team with six receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown.

The Cardinal offense started the game with a nine play 90 yard drive that was capped off by a 20 yard touchdown

pass from Bridgewater to Damian Copeland. The balanced drive included four passing plays for 46 yards and six

runs for 44 yards.

Midway through the second quarter, tight end Gerald Christian scored on a 69-yard pass from Bridgewater,

putting U of L up 17-3.

“That’s a play that’s been working for us all season. It’s a play action and those guys just execute their

assignments,” Bridgewater said.

Bridgewater’s last drive of the day ended with a five-yard touchdown pass to Brown. The 14 play 81 yard drive

put the Cardinals up 27-3.

Cornerback Charles Gaines added an interception that he returned 70 yards for a touchdown solidifying the

score at 34-3.

“We can always improve. We’ve got an open date coming up where we can improve on our fundamentals and

techniques and get ready for the next one,” Strong said.

U of L has a bye next week and will face the Connecticut Huskies on Nov. 8 in East Hartford.

“We know that we let one slip away, but we still have five more opportunities to win and we took care of one

today. We’ll continue to fight and take it one game at a time,” Bridgewater said.

Photo by Austin Lassell

Louisville football falls to UCF

By Annie Moore

Louisville football proved it was anything but invincible in front of a record crowd at Papa John’s Cardinal

Stadium Friday night. The Cards were defeated by the University of Central Florida Knights 38-35 in their first

loss of the season.

The Cards struck first in the first quarter when Teddy Bridgewater connected with Eli Rogers in the end zone to

put Louisville up 7-0 after an extra point from John Wallace.

The Knights responded in the second quarter when William Stanback capped off a 4:56 UCF drive with a four-
yard rush up the middle to tie the game at 7-7 after an extra point from Shawn Moffitt.

Louisville struck back on its next drive when Bridgewater threw a pass to DeVante Parker up the middle for 10

yards to put the Cards back on top 14-7 with less than a minute left in the half.

The Cards wasted little time getting back in the end zone, extending the lead to start the third quarter.

Dominique Brown carried the load for the majority of the Card’s second-half opening drive. Of the 75-yard drive,

58 belonged to Brown. Brown scored Louisville’s third touchdown of the game, rushing for 20 yards to put the

Cards up 21-7.

On the next UCF drive, Senorise Perry forced a fumble on UCF punter Caleb Houston that was recovered by

Louisville’s James Quick who ran it back 30 yards for a third-consecutive Cardinal touchdown.

At this point, Louisville had a 21-point lead and seemed to have the game soundly within its grasp, but the

Knights would never say die as they responded with 21 unanswered points.

After a touchdown from Storm Johnson, UCF was within two touchdowns. The following Louisville drive,

Perry fumbled on the 17-yard line, which was recovered by UCF defender John Maag.

The Knights took over on Louisville’s 15-yard line and wasted little time punching it in the end zone again to

bring it within one touchdown.

The Cardinals couldn’t capitalize on its next drive, and punted to the Knights who started its drive at its own 44-

yard line. Yet again, UCF’s offense capitalized on a Cardinal defense that looked like a shadow of itself. Stanback

punched it in again to put the score at 28-28 headed into the fourth quarter.

Louisville’s offense could not finish a drive and was forced to punt on its first possession in the fourth quarter.

UCF marched strongly back down the field with the momentum swinging heavily in its favor, and settled for a field

goal to put it up 31-28 with 7:36 left in the game.

Brown yet again came through for the Cards on the next drive, rushing 15 yards to put the Cards back up 35-31

with three minutes to go.

All Louisville’s defense needed to do was get a stop, but as it had all night, it failed to even put a dent in anything

the Knights wanted to do.

“Defensively that’s the first time we played bad,” Head Coach Charlie Strong said. “We just didn’t tackle well.”

UCF Quarterback Blake Bortles completed a pass to Jeff Godfrey to put the Knights back on top 38-35 where it

would stay for the rest of the game.

It would seem this loss dashed the hopes of Louisville returning to a BCS Bowl, and that was on the minds of the

team after the game.

“When you’re undefeated, you think about the big game and all that stuff,” senior middle linebacker Preston

Brown said. “But all that’s out the window now with the conference we play in. Now, we’ve just got to win the

conference and hopefully still get to a BCS game.”

But the team seemed optimistic, remembering that last season’s Sugar Bowl Champion team lost not once, but

twice.

“You can’t live in misery,” Bridgewater said. “You can’t live in a loss. One loss doesn’t determine the whole

season.”

The Cards next travel to Tampa, Fla. to take on the USF Bulls.

Photo by Austin Lassell

U of L football no longer controls its own destiny

By Sam Draut

It’s the problem with pursuit of perfection in college football.

As good of a team Louisville is, in a twelve-game season, they were bound to run into a

game where the opposing team remained resilient, UCF was down 28-7 midway through

the 3rd quarter.

U of L was bound to run into an opposing offense that had an answer for Teddy

Bridgewater. Blake Bortles was 21/32 for 250 yards and two touchdowns while UCF rushed

for 196 yards.

They were bound to run into a game where the ball didn’t bounce their way. Ryan

Hubbell fumbled into the end zone for a touchback on the Cardinal’s second drive. UCF

wide receiver Rannell Hall fumbled at the eight yard line, but the ball was fallen on by

running back William Stanback. The next play, Stanback scored on a four-yard rush to tie

the game at 7-7.

In a twelve-game schedule, Louisville was bound to run into a loss somewhere.

So now, a team that was previously BCS bound, no longer controls its fate.

But the season wasn’t supposed to end like this, losing to UCF in a nationally televised

game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

Quite frankly, the season did not end.

“Our goals are still there and we still have a chance to win the conference. Now we’re one

behind them (UCF). We’ve got to continue to play well and get better. We can improve.”

Charlie Strong said.

Bridgewater’s waning Heisman candidacy may have officially been crushed, along with

Louisville’s slender hopes of a National Championship, but the Cardinals still have plenty at

stake.

“It doesn’t damage them at all. We are still 6-1 this is college football and anything can

happen, and anything is possible,” Bridgewater said. ”We are going to keep our faith, keep our heads up and continue to finish the season as the way we want to.”

U of L still has a chance to win the conference, granted, UCF currently holds the tie break

and game advantage.

But moving forward, where does Louisville go from here?

A defense which previously led the FBS in fewest points allowed and ranked second in

fewest yards allowed was dominated by the UCF offense for 446 total yards and 38 points.

“That was the first time we played bad on defense,” Strong said.

So, the 31 points the defense gave up in the second half can potentially be brushed away

as an outlier, but that outlier defines the season to this point.

Once again, Louisville must take a week-by-week approach directed by perfection, but

this time, there will be no guarantees of a BCS bowl or conference championship.

The Cardinals faced a similar dilemma last year after Syracuse, but went on to drop

their next game against UConn, and were still able reach a BCS bowl.

More than likely, U of L won’t be granted as much leeway this season. The question

becomes, can Louisville refocus after the disruptive loss?

“It won’t affect the next game because we’ve been down this road before,” Strong said. “We have a veteran group here and they’ve seen this happen before so I don’t think it will affect them for the next game.”

The 2013 season was bound by the idea of 12-0, now it must continue with imperfection.

Louisville card head

‘The Voice of the Louisville Cardinals’

By: Daryl Foust

When I talk about ‘The Voice’, I’m not talking about the American reality TV singing competition or even the Season 5 contestant and 2011 Miss University of Louisville Olivia Henken. I’m talking about the man who has been the voice of the Cardinals for the past 40 years. Paul Rogers.  A man who has watched the University blossom, I decided to sit down and discuss his experience and share the history of the Cards from the man who has seen it from the lowest times into what we know it as today, the ‘Year of the Cards’.

Rogers grew up in the city of Louisville as a Kentucky fan that followed Louisville athletics but attended UK games with his family. After graduation from Eastern High School, he attended the University of Kentucky and graduated with a degree in telecommunications.  In the summer of 1973, Kentucky football moved to its current home of Commonwealth Stadium and Rogers moved to his current position, his first and only job as ‘The Voice of the Louisville Cardinals’ (football and men’s basketball).

As far as campus and how it has progressed over time Paul says “You wouldn’t recognize it.  When I started… Probably the best example I can give you is that I grew up in Louisville and never really knew where the university was.”

Rogers says when it comes to basketball, “(Bernard) ‘Peck’ Hickman laid the foundation for basketball even before Denny Crum came.”  Hickman lead the Cardinals to the 1948 NAIA Basketball Championship, which at the time was the prominent basketball tournament. Oh how the times have changed.

The University’s next major move was hiring Denny Crum, assistant coach under the UCLA great, John Wooden, to become the men’s head basketball coach in 1971.  In his first season he led the Cardinals to the Final Four and the program’s first national title in 1980 defeating his alma mater, UCLA by a slim margin of 59-54.  The University’s men’s basketball team has also been credited with making the ‘high five’ a social phenomenon. At basketball practice during the 1978-79 season, forward Wiley Brown went to give a low five to teammate Derek Smith when Smith looked at Brown and said, “No. Up high.” Midway through the second half of the championship game against UCLA, Brown overpowered his opponent, banked in the shot and drew the foul. Brown immediately raises his arm to slap Smith a high five and BOOM! A tradition was born.  Six seasons later, Crum lead the program to a second national title against Duke University (72-69).

In 1985, Howard Schnellenberger was hired as the head coach of the football team.  He inherited a struggling program that hadn’t had a winning season since 1978. The team was playing in a washed up baseball stadium and was forced to give away tickets for the lack of interest in the program. Rogers recalls “Schnellenberger showed people that the school could dream big in football too”, when at the time, the football team was just a shadow to the prominent men’s basketball program.  At his opening press conference, he shocked reporters and the city when he said the University of Louisville “is on a collision course with the national championship. The only variable is time.”  Today, somewhere, Schnellenberger is enjoying a tobacco pipe with a fat grin painted across his face. In 1991, Schnellenberger lead the Cardinals to Fiesta Bowl and dominated the SEC powerhouse, Alabama Crimson Tide, 34-7. Today, the football team enjoys the foundation and resources of the Howard Schnellenberger Complex and exits the building every home game surrounded by fake fog and 55,000 screaming fans.

When he began his career, the Cardinals football team was playing at Old Cardinal Stadium.  Hard to believe that the team now playing regularly in front of 55,000 fans, once played in a facility that housed as many as 7 different teams. But he notes that there was a certain ‘charm’ to Old Cardinal, located in the Kentucky Exposition Center. “The noise would bounce off the roof and the press box would literally bounce up and down.  When the team moved to Papa Johns in 1998, it was a huge upgrade. It was the first time Louisville had a place they could call their own.  It was on campus.  I remember the first Kentucky game.  Even though Louisville ended up getting beat by a big (margin).  It was 68-34” Rogers says.

Before we knew Tom Jurich to be the Athletic Director, Bill Olsen held the title.  He stepped down from the position in 1997 after the men’s basketball program had been cited for NCAA violations and 2 years of probation.  Jurich is another that Roger’s considers to be one of the most influential people in the University’s history and has helped propel Louisville to today’s ‘Year of the Cards’.  Jurich’s first move was to replace the head football coach, Ron Cooper, with John L. Smith and move the team to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium (PJCS).

Rogers’ most memorable games he has called for the Cards include the in-state rivalry overtime game verses Kentucky in 2000, ‘The Rain Game’, where the Cards left Lexington victorious (40-34).  The 2002 overtime game verses Florida State (another rain game) where the Cards upset the nationally ranked Seminoles (#4) resulting in the crowd rushing the field and dismantling the goal posts.  The 2006 matchup between the undefeated Cards and the undefeated West Virginia Mountaineers, both ranked in the top five.  The Cards, again, walked away victorious (44-34).  In the same 2006 season, the Cards faced nationally ranked University of Miami at PJCS.  Miami seemed to have written their own destiny when the team chose to stomp on the Cardinal bird logo midfield.  Louisville said ‘not in our house’ and thrashed the Hurricanes 31-7 causing them to exit the top 25 for the first time since 1999. “It was the fact that they were big wins over good teams under really memorable circumstances,” Rogers recalls.

In 2010, Jurich took another leap of faith when he hired Louisville’s current head football coach, Charlie Strong from the University of Florida.  It was Strong’s first opportunity as a head coach at any program, yet Jurich believed in his potential. So much so that Jurich upgraded PJCS to include 13,000 more seats and a party deck that held 2,500 more. Rogers says “The new expansion to me, it’s almost a totally different place.  The upper deck makes it look so ‘big-time’”.  Paul says that the 2013 football team is the best one he has seen in his 40 year career.  “I don’t think we will play for a national championship but I think they’re one of the elite teams in the country.  Talent wise, depth wise, coaching, scheme, you name it.”

Rogers also says that men’s basketball head coach Rick Pitino is a major contributor to the program’s successes today, “I’m actually surprised they don’t already have a Rick’s Louisville sign raised.” In regards to the returning national champions basketball team Rogers says that “I think this year’s team could be every bit as good as last year’s team.  To win a championship you have to have a lot of things fall into place.  You can be really good and not win a championship.”

When I asked if he preferred to call basketball or football games more, Rogers says “I like whatever is in season.  I like variety.”

I asked if he had a vote for the ‘Year of the Cardinal’ Homecoming King who he would choose between the 2013 Final Four MVP and the Russdiculous we all know and love.  After a giggle, Rogers goes on to say “I think it’s really neat that the athletes have gotten involved in that.  I like the fact that they’re being involved in campus life.”

In regards to the Cardinals once again packing their bags and moving conferences, heading to the Atlantic Coast Conference, “Oh, I can’t wait. If I ever gave any thoughts about retirement, that’s going to keep me going for a while.”

After 40 years of devotion to the University and watching it grow as his own, Rogers says that he is so engrained in the program that he wouldn’t consider leaving as the Voice of the Cardinals. I believe that he, too, will one day have a banner raised on a downtown building that reads ‘Paul’s Louisville’.

Photo by Austin Lassell

Louisville football defeats Rutgers, rivalry ends

By Noah Allison

 

With Louisville heading into the ACC and Rutgers into the Big 10, Thursday night’s

matchup proved to be the last conference rivalry game between these foes. U of L’s 24-10

victory closed the book on the Cardinal-Scarlet Knight rivalry. The past games may not

have captured the attention and imagination of the country as a whole, but folks in The

Ville and New Brunswick, N. J. will always hold dear the memories of beating each other,

and shudder in the painful memories of losing.

“It’s just a constant battle, it’s the respect for the football programs, and that’s a good

football team,” Head Coach Charlie Strong said. “You’ll miss this game, because it’s a fun

game and a tough battle. And you like it when we go there and they come here.”

In a season where the number eight Cardinals have flashed offensive brilliance and

lived off of defensive abuse, the ESPN primetime game was a chance for the Cardinals to

showcase their abilities to the nation. At a time in the second quarter U of L was winning

17-3 and it seemed like the route was quickly coming on, but its Rutgers-Louisville and the

Cards couldn’t land a haymaker early.

With leading receiver DeVante Parker sidelined with a shoulder injury, the offense

struggled to hit the big play and spread the field.

But junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater still threw for 304 yards, went 21-32, threw

for two touchdowns and was the second leading rusher on the night with 32 yards. Senior

wide receiver Damian Copeland had a career-high eight catches for 115 yards and bailed

Teddy out on multiple third downs.

“Copeland, he is Mr. Reliable in this offense. He’s always in the right place at the right

time and he’s a detail player and it just showed tonight with his performance. He lays it all

on the line for this team every week. He’s a guy who’s been in this system for four or five

years now and he just understands everything we’re doing conceptually and he applies it on

the field,” Bridgewater said.

Senior running back Senorise Perry, carried the Cardinals through tough times with 104

yards rushing and a touchdown on just 13 rushing attempts.

The energy, provided by Card Nation, kept Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium rocking all

night, and the Cardinal defense was rocking Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova all night as

well. Nova completed 19 of 36 pass attempts for 202 yards. In the process he was sacked

eight times and threw four interceptions.

“Tonight’s performance was amazing. Even with eight sacks, we missed about four or

five. When you can put pressure on the quarterback and you can just rush four, you feel

like you have a pretty good front. I think Marcus Smith and Lorenzo Mauldin playing the

outside are two of the best defensive ends in the country,” Strong said.

The Rutgers rivalry provided games that will linger in the story of U of L football years

into the future.

An unspeakable loss to Rutgers in 2006 ended U of L’s National Championship hopes. A

hobbled Teddy Bridgewater limping off the bench in 2012 to erase the Cards deficit and get

U of L to its second BCS bowl appearance.

Although Rutgers got the ultimate laugh in that upset years ago, Charlie Strong closed out

the series the only way U of L fans would be satisfied, by winning.