September 2017 may be known as the darkest month in University of Louisville history, but that doesn’t mean that it is the beginning of the end of U of L athletics. That is a message that every Cards fan needs to tell every other Cards fan.
I, like a lot of readers, grew up here. I remember the football program being so bad that they gave away tickets at the convenience stores. The smell of the candied nuts at Freedom Hall is more familiar to me than any other scent on the planet. I was there the day that “GO”… “CARDS”… “BEAT”… “PURDUE” became a running joke after a cheerleader forgot to change out the team name so every opponent became Purdue in that cheer.
I’ve also seen the football team now host College GameDay for the second straight year. The basketball team win a national championship with a fancy new arena. The baseball team regularly go to the College World Series— an event that we didn’t even know existed when I was a teenager. I’ve seen the soccer team and the women’s basketball team play in a national championship game. The swimming team turn out a national champ and a string of Olympians. The cross-country program produce a national champ. The men’s tennis team produce an NCAA finalist.
I’m sure I left something out in the above paragraph that’s worth mentioning.
I am also equally certain that these things will continue to happen no matter who the replacements for Tom Jurich and Rick Pitino are.
Yes, it is true that both men were great at their jobs. It is also true that other people can also be great at those jobs too.
It is okay to give them the credit and praise that they deserve while acknowledging that they are not the only two people who can do it over the next ten years.
The thing that Tom Jurich did better than most outsiders was to get people to give the University of Louisville a lot of money— more than they had ever given. Those people are still here, and they are fans of the program. If someone new can earn their trust, which will be job one for whoever comes next, those resources are still there. That goes for donors who have their last names on buildings all the way to the fan who skips a vacation so they can have season tickets.
It will not be easy. Get used to taking grief from your Big Blue buddies. They are armed with more ammo than they have ever had.
Real programs are bigger than one or two people. This is a real program with real fans who won’t let September 2017 end what they have enjoyed for decades. It won’t be easy. It will happen again. It will just take a while.