The consternation and anxiety is palpable heading into UofL football’s Friday showdown with UCF
By: Raashaan Myers
It is unbelievable to say but it feels as if the University of Louisville’s season has reached a tipping point heading into only their 3rd week of the 2021 football season. The Cardinals welcome the Central Florida State Golden Knights to town with as much pressure as there has been to perform under the spotlight of 3rd year coach Scott Satterfield. In front of a nationally televised audience the drama will play out and you can cut the tension with a knife. But rather than break down the Xs and Os that will lead to victory or defeat for the Cards I would rather ask how or why did we get to this place so quickly this season?
It’s funny to say, but I truly believe it’s Steve Kragthorpe’s fault!………….At least partly. Hear me out! Over the last 30+ years the Louisville Football’s program has undergone a program metamorphosis from an also ran that faced possible shutdown to a team that was for a few precious weeks considered a team that could bust into the college football playoff. That momentum took a huge hit after Bobby Petrino left the Bluegrass state the first time around to join the Atlanta Falcons and UofL went on to make the disastrous hire of Kragthorpe to coach the team beginning in 2007. The next 3 years you saw a fall from grace that Icarus would have been proud of as Louisville Football went from Champ to Chump in the blink of an eye. Amassing a 15-21 record over his 3 seasons Kragthorpe took all the amazing momentum created by former coaches Schnellenburger, Smith, and Petrino and flushed it down the toilet. At the end of his 3rd season Kragthorpe was given his walking papers and Louisville was a program on the brink of falling off a cliff in terms of program trajectory.
Enter Charlie Strong. Over his 4 years with the University of Louisville Coach Strong brought back the attitude and expectation of greatness the reinvigorated his team and the Cardinal fan base. It cannot be understated with the seismic shifts that began during his tenure that Strong’s leadership and quick rebuild probably saved the Cards from possibly a lifetime of playing in also-ran type of football conferences never getting a true seat at the big boy’s table of the Power 5. Along with future Cardinal Hall of Fame QB Teddy Bridgewater the University of Louisville found all the momentum that they lost leading to a 4 year record of 37-15 as well as the all-important invite to the Atlantic Coast Conference. UofL was back and better than ever!
Fast forward to back to current day and Week 3 of the 2021 College Football season and Scott Satterfield in his third season has UofL fans looking and feeling a lot of those same feeling they got early in the 2009 season under Kragthorpe and because of that experience they feel like experts in what bad football looks like. Add to that his flirtations and clandestine meeting with South Carolina after last season which people tried to sweep under the rug though the anger and hurt of that situation was still far from gone. Then top that with all the expectations of an exciting and much anticipated season opener vs SEC foe Ole Miss in which the fan base was truly embarrassed in front of a national TV audience on Monday Night football Week 1. All of this combined has led to what from the outside to some would be an irrational reaction to a team that had a 1-1 record heading into a home game vs a Non-Power 5 school on Friday night.
Are the fears a bit premature? Yes. Is there legit concern that this season may be about to fly off the rails? Absolutely. So then the question becomes what will Scott Satterfield do to respond to the pressure? Whether or not he understands the reasons or agrees with them he is likely coaching for his respect on Friday night and that cannot be understated. The season would not be over with a loss on Friday vs UCF, but it would make success much more difficult because I have a feeling that the crush of criticism would be about unbearable for a guy who did everything he could to leave town after last season. Like it or not a do or die situation may be unfolding Friday night and I can’t wait to see the drama play out on the field.
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Raashaan Myers is the long time Co-Host of the Main Event Sports Show and Anchor for the PGN News Network in Louisville. Member of the US Basketball Writers Association and former recruiting columnist for Insidetheville.com. Lover of all things UofL and basketball! Looking to bring truth to the masses. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Raashaan