Louisville football entered the offseason with a lot of questions surrounding the running back position, but by August it wasn’t a position battle that attracted the most scrutiny. The announcement that former Auburn star Michael Dyer would play in for the Cardinals in 2013 elicited strong reactions from the local media, but the constant refrain was slippery-slope hand wringing peppered with moral reproach. Critics descended upon the symbolism of an elite athlete tarnished by a history of burners and spice being welcomed into a community that emphasizes “no guns” and “no drugs” among its core tenets, displayed on official signage in the football facility. Particularly in the cynical summer of Aaron Hernandez and Johnny Van Der Beek Football, the subject of football players entitled to misconduct by virtue of their talent was, for good reason, a touchy one.
As you’re most likely aware, tomorrow evening’s Selection Sunday festivities set the stage for the 2013 NCAA Tournament. Dedicated fans, casual bandwagoners, and the repressed gambler who manages your office bracket pool all get their first glimpse of the official field.
I’ll be participating in the Selection Sunday live chat with ConnecTV.com tomorrow, talking about the Louisville Cardinals’ tournament outlook. Knowledgeable folks who follow Duke, Syracuse, Kansas, Arizona and Gonzaga will be weighing in as well.
If you’ve got a free tablet/phone/computer screen and the inclination, stop in to check it out and join the discussion. ConnecTV is a “second screen” app designed to complement television programming with relevant tweets, viewer live chats and supplemental information, and you can download the app for iOS and Android or simply use the browser interface. Continue reading
According to Mike Huguenin at Yahoo! Sports, Louisville’s heralded Center Mario Benavides is the #20 interior lineman in college football, and “should be the best lineman in the Big East” this season.
20. C Mario Benavides, Louisville
Particulars: 6-4/280, Sr.; Los Fresnos (Texas) High
Buzz: He will be a four-year starter for the Cardinals. In his first three seasons, Benavides has made it through just one (his redshirt freshman season in 2009) unscathed. He missed one game in 2010 and missed the first three games last season. He also missed spring drills, but is 100 percent and should be the best lineman in the Big East.
After barely missing the cut with the preseason Coaches Poll earlier this month, today the Louisville football team received some symbolic validation with their first appearance in the AP Poll’s top 25 since 2007.
A month from now, a #25 ranking in a preseason poll will have served little purpose beyond message board fodder. Nonetheless, the recognition marks a watershed moment of redemption for Strong’s staff and team after nearly three years of tedious rebuilding. For the players and fans of a Louisville program shunned to the margins of the college football scene after the Kragthorpe fallout and conference realignment debate, reappearing in the national pigskin consciousness is a much-needed ego boost.
(More relevant thoughts and Duke hatering below the jump) Continue reading
Last week, Louisville’s football staff picked up their tenth verbal commitment in the class of 2013 from an intimidating Georgian named Chandler Bridges. The news is encouraging for two reasons:
- Strong’s staff has assembled a very solid class of big, versatile kids. Although Kyle Bolin and Ryan White are the most glamorous commitments, Strong has shown a remarkable knack for closing with high-profile players near signing day. This year appears no different, as Louisville’s staff has positioned itself well with several elite-echelon players. The lineman-heavy foundation of ten 2013 verbals allows the coaches to focus on their most sought-after remaining targets.
- Someone at UofL seems to have noticed The Big Russbowski, notified the proper parties, and arranged to have a passable Jeff Bridges stand-in recruited.
In light of underwhelming initial appraisals of Big East TV money and unrelenting shit-talking from media pundits, football fans and Mack Brown’s boss alike, it seems like an appropriate juncture to reevaluate the conference’s goals in the impending superconference era.
Put lightly, the Big East has an image problem. In the absurd, nightmarish retail strip mall of college athletics, it is the Dollar General to the SEC’s Walmart; the Big 12’s Cabela’s; the Big 10’s Menards and the ACC’s offensively-overpriced antique shop.
Its name alone is so toxic that ne’er-do-wells instantly become esteemed programs upon vacating (see: Pitt, Syracuse).
I should preface this post by apologizing for this blog’s descent into neglect. The world of part-time retail beckoned, and I abandoned unemployment to answer the call. Having just experienced my first (and last) Maine winter, I sense a return to productivity as the glaciers enshrouding my apartment recede and the roving mammoths’ blood lust subsides. Look forward to more unsubstantiated gossip and juvenile photoshops pertaining to your Louisville Cardinals as my metabolism returns to normal.
What better way to dust off birdswag than with a blog update from Rick Pitino––the Narcan of Louisville sports writing:
… Continue reading
So, that was fun. Let’s do it again.
In the wake of Louisville’s surprising Big East Tournament championship run, the dominating narrative going into the NCAA tournament is the transcendent play of Peyton Siva last week. But it’s impossible to appraise the Cardinals’ revival without acknowledging the play of Gorgui Dieng, who received All-Big East Tournament honors and averaged 8.8 ppg, 9 rpg and 3.25 blocks over the four games in the Garden.
Another impressive stat that falls through the cracks is 23.5. That is, Gorgui received his second foul after 23.5 minutes of game time on average. In my first post on the timing of Dieng’s fouls, I mentioned that the big man picked up his second foul after 20.3 minutes on average through the USF game. My argument was that Gorgui entering halftime with 2 or more fouls was, statistically, a kiss of death for this Louisville team.
That argument still holds water:
Pat Forde published his much-anticipated best case/worst case analysis for each team in the NCAA tournament field today. Here’s his take on the Cardinals after the jump: Continue reading