Bulls See Red, Run Over Cards, 58-51

South Florida came to town looking to remove themselves from the bubble. They had a tall task at hand, facing Louisville in a red out on Senior Day. The last time Louisville lost a Senior Day contest Monica Lewinsky was in the news, Denny Crum was coach, and Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was still under construction. USF had only beaten Louisville three times in 25 tries and only once at home. Then tonight happened.

The game was absolutely brutal to watch. The offense remained M.I.A. The press gave up easy bucket after easy bucket, and honestly should have given up more if USF could hit layups and dunks. The Cards got destroyed on the glass. This was the worst performance I have seen from this team outside of Providence, which is terrifying to think about this late in the season. The Cards did manage to match their first half total of 17 points just 5:50 into the 2nd half. From there though UofL would only manage another 17 points in the final 14:10 in the game.

The offense struggled mightily yet again. I’m not sure what the prescription is for this, because even our open threes have quit dropping. One shining light was Chris Smith’s shot seemed to return as he was 4 for 7 from the floor and 3 of 5 from beyond the arc. Still Chris Smith is not assertive enough to rely on to jump start the rest of the offense. The Cards NEED to get Chane Behanan the ball deep in the post. He has by far the best post moves on the team, and what he lacks in height he makes up for with grown-ass-man strength. Whenever he touched the ball down low, he either scored or got fouled. GET HIM THE BALL!

Pitino has offered two prescriptions for our offensive woes this year. Most recently, it was push the pace and play at a break-neck speed offensively. Early in the season, he said we needed to force the ball inside. In the second half of this game, we did both, and we saw results, briefly. After scoring 17 (SEVENTEEN!!!) points in the first half, the Cards were able to reel off 19 in the first 6:30 of the second half. During this flurry, Louisville did the two things Pitino has preached this season. After this flurry, they got away from it, and went on another massive scoring drought this team has been notorious for all season long. SIX points were scored over the next ELEVEN minutes. During that time, Behanan saw a lot of time on the bench, Louisville was 1-8 from the field, and turned the ball over 5 times. USF shot nine more times than the Cards during this stretch and DOMINATED the Cards on the glass hauling in 40 of 69 available rebounds. The rebounding margin was worse but the Cards were able to narrow the gap late in the game.

Throughout all the ugliness, Chris Smith and Kyle Kuric both played OK games. It was especially good to see Smith, who hadn’t hit a shot since the DePaul game, come through on senior night. He single-handedly kept us in the game in the second half, and his step back and-one jumper late in the game was silky. It’s just so unfortunate that the seniors had to go out this way. Kuric tallied 14 points, but was just 2 for 8 from 3-point range, added just 2 rebounds, 0 assists, 0 blocks, 0 steals in 37 minutes. Chris Smith was much better and as mentioned before lit up the nets. The enigmatic Russ Smith was off tonight finishing 0-8 from the floor.

UofL was in the game with just a one possession game until an inexplicable call from the officials turned the game into South Florida’s favor for the rest of the game. Kyle Kuric knocked the ball loose and while the ball was being pursued by both USF and UofL and the Cards were just about to pick it up off the floor, Stan Heath (USF’s head coach) was granted a timeout without the possession of the ball. The Bulls would go onto hit a 3-pointer and push the lead to 6 with very little time on the clock and the end of game strategy and percentages swung dramatically into South Florida’s favor. One call, at home, shouldn’t lose you a ball game so I won’t dwell on this much but how bad has officiating been throughout all of college basketball in 2011-12?

Up next is Syracuse in the Carrier Dome. I am completely disgusted with the basketball that I watched tonight, but for some reason I feel good about beating the second-ranked team in the nation at their place. If they lose, they finish the season with a 22-9 record and likely square off against West Virginia or UCONN in the Big East tournament. Everybody has Louisville as a lock in this tournament but if they lose their next two games I’m not so sure. I feel like Pitino will stress this to the team, and they will come out and put on a heck of a show Saturday. But if they don’t learn how to score, and I mean like, now, I wouldn’t put too much faith in this team leaving the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Wow… that was excruciating to type..

Cards Close Home Slate vs. USF Bulls: RED OUT

The University of Louisville Cardinals will close out their home schedule on Wednesday night against a RED Clad crowd against the South Florida Bulls. The home season finale will give Cards fans their last opportunity to see Seniors Kyle Kuric and Chris Smith to play at the KFC Yum! Center. Also Louisville fans will find out if we do indeed plan on saying goodbye to Junior Jared Swopshire, which Coach Pitino said would be the case earlier in the season.

South Florida is a team that has been a surprise in 2011-12 and currently stands 18-11 overall and 11-5 in Big East play. As of this moment South Florida would be in line for the #5 spot in next week’s Big East Tournament in New York’s Madison Square Garden. A win for Louisville would create the potential for the Cards to earn the #5 position which is the best this Cardinal team can finish in the Big East as the double bye possibility was eliminated on Monday evening.  In the end, Louisville must close out their final home game before traveling to Syracuse this weekend for a rematch against the #2 Syracuse Orange.

USF is a “slow it down” team. Stan Heath has done a nice job of building this team into one that has been able to put together a winning record and a startling resume`. Based on the Bulls’ basketball history sitting at 5th in the Big East has to be well beyond expectations for this program (they were 10-23 last season), and the Bulls are coming off perhaps their best win of the season on Sunday as they took down the Cincinnati Bearcats 46-45 in Tampa. This was the same Bearcat team that defeated the Cards last week. So this game is extremely important for both teams; for USF they could really play themselves into the NCAA tournament with a road win versus the Cards, and for Louisville another conference win protecting their home court against a top 50 RPI team would just further enhance their NCAA tournament resume` while also putting them in an advantageous position for the Big East tournament.

Louisville South Florida
Points Per Game 70.7 (96th) 59.7 (320th)
Avg Scoring Margin +8.4 (40th) +1.5 (143rd)
Field Goal % 43.2% (179th) 43.8 (143rd)
Rebound Rate 51.7% (95th) 52.2% (72nd)
Blocks per game 4.9 (29th) 3.5 (139th)
Steals per game 9.3 (7th) 5.7 (243rd)
Assists per game 14.1 (65th) 11.9 (236th)
Turnovers per game 14.6 (269th) 12.8 (119th)
Team Fouls per game 18.2 (177th) 15.3 (16th)
2-point FG% 48.6% (138th) 49.4% (114th)
3-point FG % 32.2% (253rd) 31.0% (290th)
Free Throw % 68.1% (211th) 71.0% (105th)
Opponent Shooting % 37.6% (3rd) 40.1% (33rd)
Opponent 2-point FG% 40.2% (3rd) 44.4% (51st)
Opponent 3-point FG% 32.1% (74th) 31.1% (42nd)
Opponent Blocks per game 3.2 (126th) 3.5 (202nd)
Opponent Steals per game 7.6 (306th) 7.2 (266th)

The South Florida series has been particularly one-sided as the Cards hold a 25-3 advantage with the loss to the Bulls in 2001 in a 73-67 decision in Tampa.  The Bulls were able to pull off a win in Louisville during the 1997-98 season in Freedom Hall.  This game will actually be a tough one for the Cards as they play a style that is counter to what Louisville wants to do.  Every time UofL plays a team that requires them to play 30+ seconds of defense each trip seems to be able to hang around make life difficult.  Also, USF is a pretty good rebounding team so any second chance opportunities where the Bulls pull out and make the Cards play almost a full minute of defense could really be killer.

Peyton Siva 6-0, 180 lbs. vs. Anthony Collins 6-1, 180 lbs
Chris Smith 6-2, 195 lbs vs. Jawanza Poland 6-4, 200 lbs
Kyle Kuric 6-4, 195 lbs vs. Victor Rudd 6-7, 208 lbs
Chane Behanan 6-6, 250 lbs vs. Toarlyn Fitzpatrick 6-8, 243 lbs
Gorgui Dieng 6-11, 235 lbs vs. Augustus Gilchrist 6-10, 241 lbs

Wayne Blackshear 6-5, 220 lbs vs. Hugh Robertson 6-6, 200 lbs
Russ Smith 6-0, 160 lbs vs. Blake Nash 6-1, 180 lbs
Jared Swopshire 6-8, 200 lbs vs. Ron Anderson 6-8, 237 lbs
Zach Price 6-10 235 lbs vs. NONE
Kevin Ware 6-4, 185 lbs vs. Shaun Noriega 6-4, 197 lbs.

Augustus Gilchrist is going to be a good match-up for Gorgui Dieng.  The South Florida Bulls don’t have a main option on offense, but Gilchrist is the leading scorer of their balanced attack.  USF will try and slow down the game and score on the interior with high percentage shots.  They will force the Cards to play long possessions of defense and will move the ball around trying to get their opponent to have a break down.  Louisville needs to not gamble and give up easy shots while also being aggressive in the passing lanes and try and get into transition with turnovers.  South is actually prone to turnovers so this could be possible.

Kyle Kuric 

Kyle Kuric came to Louisville from Memorial High School in Evansville, Indiana and really burst onto the scene in a HUGE way in Freedom Hall’s swan song when he scored 22 points in the second half while leading the Cards to victory against the #1 ranked Syracuse Orange.  Kuric’s arrival was a welcome one as he had been somewhat of a “below the radar” kind of player until his outbreak against the Orange.  Kyle’s personality is understated, he is soft-spoken and somewhat shy but has grown from his initial person as a freshman.  Kuric is intelligent and his play can sometimes lull an opponent to sleep as he has a tendency to hang out in “Kyle’s Korner” waiting for an open shot.  But as soon as Kyle can catch an opponent sleeping he drives the lane and comes up with an “out of nowhere” monster slam that catches everyone off-guard.

Kuric came through with an amazing junior season and shot 44.9% from beyond the three-point line and became a main offensive weapon for the Cards.  As of right now Kuric has 854 points at the college level and has a potential 11-12 games remaining (depending on Big East bye situation) so he has an outside chance to become a 1,000 point career scorer.  That is impressive when you consider his lack of production scoring as a freshman, and minor contributions as a sophomore.

Chris Smith

Chris Smith came to UofL after playing two outstanding seasons at Manhattan College in the MAAC Conference.  The brother of NBA standout and current New York Knick J.R. Smith, was obviously playing above his competition level and elected to come to Louisville after his sophomore season.  After sitting out the 2009-10 season due to the NCAA transfer rules Chris Smith has become a key part of the University of Louisville basketball program and started 20 of the last 26 games of the 2010-11 season.

Chris Smith currently has 1219 points during his collegiate career, and 623 as a Cardinal.  Currently Smith is on a bit of a cold streak as he has been 0-4 in his previous two games heading into Senior Night.  I’m betting that Chris breaks out of his “funk” on Wednesday night and leaves the KFC Yum! Center on a high note.

Chris is an excellent rebounder for his size and his defensive quickness and length makes his versatile for the various matchups UofL might encounter.  Smith is also an outstanding shooter and averages over 40% from behind the 3-point line in his career as a Cardinal.

Jared Swopshire

Jared Swopshire will be honored on Senior Night with one year of eligibility remaining.  The St. Louis native came to Louisville from the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL and saw action immediately in all 37 games as a freshman during the 2008-09 season. He did play in every game as a freshman but only averaged 5.4 minutes per game, but that rose significantly as a sophomore where Swop found himself as a regular in the starting rotation as he started 20 games during the 2009-10 season.

Unfortunately for Swopshire he suffered a groin injury during the summer of 2010 that kept him from action for the entire 2010-11 season.  Jared was only able to join the team this past October for workouts and practice which means that he missed almost 16 months of athletic activity.

Swopshire has 394 points as a Cardinal and 315 rebounds.  At 6-8, 200 lbs Jared really has excelled at the power forward position given his relatively lean size compared to his competition.  This season Swop has been coming off the bench to provide size on the interior and has proven to be an effective defender.  I’m hoping that we see Jared again in the 2012-13 season, but in either case we wish him well if he is in fact moving on.

Swop most memorable moment as a Cardinal may be getting a technical foul when his face attacked DeMarcus Cousins’ elbow.


A Perfect World: College Football Playoff Proposal

The common discussion in the last 4 months or so has been the addition of the “Plus One” model which would replace the BCS in its current structure of pitting the top 2 teams in college football to play 1 national title game.  The “Plus One” would be revolutionary in the fact that Major College Football would finally have a formal playoff system to crown its champion.  Even a format of just 4 teams and 3 games forming a ‘mini playoff’ brings the sport that much closer to establishing a true and legitimate champion that the sport deserves to discover in a much less subjective manner.  Currently the system is rife with opinion, manipulation, and dare I say it….corruption.  In a sport where millions of dollars are on the line, countless hours are devoted, all involved the players, coaches, schools, fans, and even the sport itself DESERVES a more transparent approach to determining who is the BEST year in and year out.

This new “Plus One” format would be the proverbial “dip of the toe” into a playoff format that is easy to see growing past a 4 team playoff to a larger, more inclusive version that is surely to come down the line.  Early projections see the “Plus One” format as allowing revenue to be TRIPLE (or in same cases even higher) of the current BCS model.  And like every move college athletics has made over the past 15 years, it’s easy to predict what might happen just by following the money.  Or in this case the uncovering a huge ocean of untapped potential revenue that has always been out there, but unrealized.

As someone who has worked in advertising for the last 5 years I can tell you that the demand from advertisers to fund a large scale playoff in college football would be phenomenal.  Couple that with the fact that NBC & CBS are both gearing up to take on Sports MEGA GIANT ESPN for a chance to reclaim a share of the sports fueled eye-balls of America and the creation of a college football playoff could create a feeding frenzy of cash for colleges and universities.

A ‘plus one’ may be all college football fans get for the start of the 2014-15 athletic season (the current BCS format will expire at the conclusion of the 2013-14 college football season), but it is easy to see how the format will grow as far as the appetite for audience and revenue will allow.  Much like the NCAA Tournament which has expanded a number of times during its history:  1939-1950 the field was just 8 teams, in 1951-1952 the field was expanded to 16 teams, before having a variation of 22 to 25 teams from 1953-1974.  In the 1975 season the field was settled for 4 seasons at 32 participants, before expanding again in 1979 to a field of 40.  From 1980 to 1982 the field was 48 teams, for one season in 1983 the field was 52 teams, and in 1984 the field was increased by one team to 53. The whole process seemed to settle on a top 64 from 1985-2000, but then in 2001 the field was expanded to 65 until last season’s addition of 3 more teams to the current format of 68 programs. North Carolina’s Athletic Director actually discussed recently his desire for a 128-team NCAA tournament (there are 345 teams that play D1 basketball).

March Madness for Basketball is HUGE.  It’s nearly here, and it’s success is VAST for the NCAA and its mission.  CBS is scheduled to pay the NCAA $500,000,000 ANNUALLY until 2024, and the cash generated during the tournament funds 90% of the NCAA’s annual revenue.  NCAA Football television ratings, attendance, and overall interest dwarfs that of the NCAA Basketball regular season, but there would inevitably be less games in the football post-season so to compare the two would be unfair.  Still the earning potential can not be overstated for a full and robust post-season for Major College Football.

In a perfect world here would be my format that the administrators who will form College Football’s Future should draw up for the beginning of the 2014 season:

16 teams: History shows us in basketball that the postseason is going to expand over time.  Limiting the post season championship to just 4 teams leaves the college football champion open to subjectivity and speculation.  One of the main issues will inevitably go back to that of inclusion of all institutions participating in the FBS.  With just 4 teams, the “haves” and “have nots” will become even further divided.  With 16 teams the discussion is squashed, every team has an opportunity to be included AND it gives advertisers and sponsors more inventory to market which means more dollars in the pockets of the schools.  If we know that the field is likely to eventually be 16 teams, why not be proactive and actually make the proper adjustment now rather than later?

An added benefit is that schools will be encouraged to challenge their teams during the regular season.  Currently we play in an era where Florida hasn’t traveled out of conference for a game outside the state of Florida since they dropped a game in 1991 vs. Syracuse in the Carrier Dome.  This is what I call, “Scheduling Around the Myth” as the regular season schedule can be manipulated by individual schools who can buy their way out of games that appear to be competitive against non-traditional powers thereby eliminating a legitimate opportunity for a “Non-Myth” and enabling a “Myth” to maintain its traditional status as a power.  This avoidance of competition dilutes and embarrasses the notion that the college football regular season is the “ultimate” playoff in sports.  In playoffs teams are on a collision course with one another, there is no way to contractually avoid a legitimate challenge.

The only way to do encourage competition during the regular season is by giving programs cause to challenge their teams in the out of conference schedule.  The only way to do that is to give every team in college football an opportunity to arrive in the postseason with a chance to win the national title through its own conference.  This is what makes the NCAA tournament so outstanding and coaches like Louisville’s Denny Crum legends.  Coach Crum would ‘load up’ on his out of conference schedule in order for it to pay dividends come tournament time.  By testing his teams early they were able to identify their flaws, gain experience, and the overall product was better when it mattered the most.

How to Select the top 16?

10 Conference Champions + 6 At Large

Currently there are 11 Conferences playing FBS football.  But by 2014 Conference USA and the Mountain West are planning a merger that will limit the FBS to just 10 major conferences and a small group of independents.  Taking a conference champion from each and every conference currently participating in the FBS creates an attractive format from an entertainment and drama perspective.  First of all, each and every conference race will be tracked.  In 2011 the entire focus of college football was on the SEC with LSU and Alabama being the assumed (re) match-up for the BCS National Championship Game.  As a result ratings and attendance dipped even further from a year before in an era of declining television ratings for the sport (discussed more later).  Having each and every conference alive for the grand prize in November launches the interest level of college football into a stratosphere it has never known.

And with 6 At-Large teams available there is still plenty of opportunity to play for the title for some teams that had a fantastic season, played a tough schedule, but fell a little short within conference.  The current BCS formula could remain in place to select these teams, conference affiliation doesn’t matter, there is no limit of teams from a conference allowed in.  The best remaining 6 non-league champions.  Period.


The biggest issue in formatting a 16-team schedule is that football is a complicated sport.  Teams scout their opponents all season long in anticipation of their game and while it is easy to scout, game plan, and play a game in one week’s time against an opponent that has been on the schedule for months that wouldn’t necessarily be the case for a team that you hadn’t had a chance to properly prepare for.  This would be the biggest challenge in creating a 16-team, 4 round playoff.

Therefore, I would recommend that there be a 10-day rolling period minimum between each game, which would create a format that would take about 36-39 days to play.  Currently the NCAA Basketball Tournament takes 3 weeks to determine and that is after a week of conference tournament championships.  The easiest way to make this agreeable is to move the season up a week AND/OR scale back the regular season to just 11 games.  Since I know that scaling the season back to 11 games will never be agreed upon, moving the season ahead a week (or even two) would seem to make the most sense.  Right now many schools begin playing games before the Fall Semester begins anyway, so moving the season ahead into August really wouldn’t impact anything in the classroom for the student-athletes.

Here is how I see a playoff format for 16-teams looking in 2014:

-Begin Season on August 23, 2014 (or 8/21/14 if Thursday kickoffs continue).
-Regular Season Ends for all teams on November 22nd.
-Conference Championship Games Thanksgiving Weekend (November 29th), spread out around the games throughout the weekend.

#1 seed
vs. 12-11-2014
#16 seed #1 seed
vs. 12-22-14
#8 seed #8 seed
vs. 12-12-2014
#9 seed #1 seed
vs. 1-3-2015
#5 seed #4 seed
vs. 12-13-2014
#12 seed #4 seed
vs. 12-24-2014
#4 seed #5 seed
vs. 12-14-2014 #1 seed
#13 seed vs. 1-17-2015 (1-15-15 is a Thursday)
#2 seed
#3 seed
vs. 12-15-2014
#14 seed #3 seed
vs. 12-26-14
#6 seed #6 seed
vs. 12-16-2014
#11 seed #2 seed
vs. 1-5-2015
#7 seed #3 seed
vs. 12-10-2014
#10 seed #2 seed
vs. 12-20-14
#2 seed #7 seed
vs. 12-9-2014
#15 seed

Play the 1st and 2nd rounds at the higher seeded teams’ home field.  The Final Four should be held in a central location rotated just like the Final Four.  Initially this could be the traditional BCS spots, Orange, Rose, Sugar, Fiesta.  But it would be better served to move around the country like the Super Bowl or Final Four Basketball Tournament.

Why It Works:

See College Basketball’s March Madness.  Looking at it this way, I think the Regular Season becomes much more attractive and a lot more transparent.  A lot of traditionalists will say that the controversy that the current system provides creates a lot of the interest and drama for college football.  Those interested in real competition will LOVE this format.  No longer can an analyst get on his soapbox during a telecast and bash Boise State’s schedule.  We’ll find out in the Tournament if they belong or not.  No longer will North Carolina beat able to recruit over East Carolina with the argument that they have a better opportunity for the post-season year in and year out.

Also, instead of Ohio State (a regular Mythical U) scheduling the bottom half of the MAC to warm up on before they start their Big 10 schedule, the Buckeyes may actually want to sharpen their teeth on a more competitive non-conference schedule.  Bottomline, teams are more likely to go looking for competition than running away from it.  Right now, traditional rivalries are melting away because of conference affiliation.  Missouri vs. Kansas, Texas vs. Texas A&M, some have even mentioned Louisville vs. Kentucky being on the chopping block if the SEC expanded its schedule to 9-games.

To cancel important series that drive interest regionally & locally so that a team’s record may be improved is beyond comprehension.  To me, I’ve always had the mentality that if I’m going to compete in something I’m going to take on all comers.  If I’m really going to be competitive my mentality should be anyone, anytime, anywhere.  Any person or program who has that mentality is going to take some licks, but in the end everyone involved is better for it.  Having a legitimate postseason gives everyone a much broader scope and specific purpose.  Now instead of fattening the win column for a 6-6 or 7-5 season and limping into a lower level bowl where the payouts cover the expenses of the game teams should be more encouraged to drive interest with more favorable competition during the regular season and are less likely to cancel long-standing series that drive the bus in terms of overall interest.

In addition, by ending with the championship game on 1-17-15 (or possibly 1-15-15) the season is only extended by an additional week and much of the championship season is within the winter break period of MOST school’s academic calendars.

Lastly, the bowl system is outdated.  College football has for too long walked a fine line between crowning a legitimate champion and keeping a postseason system in place (the bowl system) that does everything but assist the landscape in determining its champion.  Could you imagine the NCAA Basketball Tournament scheduling itself around the NIT?  Or the Super Bowl around the Pro Bowl.  The focus and #1 purpose of the postseason should always be on developing a system that harbors competition on the quest to determine who is #1.  No more asterisks, no more discussion.  Just play.

Arguments Against:

My proposed structure would place a team in a situation where those involved in the championship would be playing 17 games, but the season would only be extended by one week at the beginning and one week at the end (for those involved in the title game). It is also important to note that the NFL WildCard portion of the playoffs would likely begin on 1-10-15, but my proposed schedule does place the traditional game days around those of the NFL’s.  While the majority of the Proposed Playoff for College would fall inside the NFL’s regular season competing with the NFL’s playoff structure would not be wise and efforts would need to be made to schedule around their games as much as possible.

Also, a tournament environment is fine for a sport like basketball and even in the professional ranks in football where there are just 32 teams and even fewer who will actually compete in the post-season.  But preparing for a college tournament where 120 possible teams could be a major challenge for coaching staffs and leave those teams who have a greater focus open for an upset.  By allowing for a minimum of 10 days between games I’ve allowed for additional time between games for scouting, planning, and the healing of injuries but football is a game of preparation, planning, and execution.

It is important to note that I do not propose the dissolution of the bowl structure.  I’ve been to several bowl games and had fantastic experiences, but they don’t assist in crowning college football’s champion.  They do, however, assist in pitting two relatively competitive teams against each other as a reward for a hard fought season.  Also, their additional practice time, team bonding, and the impact that their trips have both on the teams themselves and the communities the games are held in should not be ignored.  I also understand the economic impact that these bowl games have on each individual community.  I believe that the bowl games have their place, but they just shouldn’t be a barrier to establishing College Football’s process to discover which team is its champion.

In Summation

The challenges and changes that would need to occur for College Football would be far less dramatic than the gains and earnings that would be realized from this format.  I realize that this idea might move faster than administrators are comfortable with.  But I also believe this is the inevitable format for long-term survival and viability for college foobtall.  There is a huge ocean of cash available on top of a tremendous amount of fan interest and desire in establishing an open playoff system.

Starting with a “Plus One” is fine. But why not start with an 8-team playoff?  Or even better, why not just go to 16 to begin with?  If it is going to happen eventually the schools, programs, and institutions should realize those gains now.  But most importantly the fans deserve better than the current system provides.  37,678,722 people attended college football games in 2010 an average of 46,632 per game.  In 2011 that number dipped to an average of 46,074 per game.  During the same time span the NFL saw its average attendance rise by 462 to 67,419 per game.  Are these numbers cause for alarm?  Maybe losing 1.1% of your in-person audience is minimal, but when that number collectively is a $12,433,978 loss in ticket sales alone spread over 120 institutions it’s a big deal.  We aren’t even talking about concession, apparel, and other ancillary revenue that was lost as a result of less fans attending games.

But I won’t stop there. For the 2010-2011 bowl season, Television Ratings were the worst the sport had seen in 13 seasons.  Bowl ratings were down 9%, from the BCS National Title Game between Auburn vs. Oregon Matchup from the year before.  23 of the 33 bowls drew a smaller audience than in 2010.  In 2011-2012 the television interest level dropped AGAIN to the lowest level in the 14-year history of the BCS.  The 2011-12 rating is down 37% since its high in 1998 and averaging bowl attendance dipped below 51,000 for the first time since 1979!

If College Football is serious about its future, and believe me it is, then something dramatic must be done to rectify its diminishing appeal both in person and as a television product.  By being stagnant and hanging onto an archaic structure that encourages programs to let national pundits and voters make the arguments on their behalf rather than lining up and competing all of college football has been harmed.  It’s time for a change.  It’s time for it now.  The fans deserve it, college football needs it.  The money is there, the audience is ready.  Why not make it happen? GET. IT. DONE.


Cards take down Panthers 57-54

The University of Louisville hosted the Pittsburgh Panthers on Sunday afternoon in front of 22,746 at the KFC Yum! Center and came away with a much needed victory.  The Cards moved to 22-7 and 10-6 in the Big East and assured themselves of at least a single bye in the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden.  The win was the third in a row versus a really hard-nosed and well-coached Pitt program on the hardwood and the 34th in the past 42 contests in the month of February the past 6 seasons.  Jaime Dixon’s team has struggled during the 2011-12 season, but they do have a lot of unrealized talent.

During the game the pace was slow as Pitt almost seemed instructed to not shot until the shot clock was under 10 seconds. The controlled possessions by the Panthers caused the Cards to play LONG possessions and made it difficult to get into their transition game.  In post-game Coach Rick Pitino expressed a desire to get back to more of an up tempo style.  Also both teams committed a high number of turnovers with Pitt giving up the ball 19 times to UofL’s 14, and neither team was able to really get a rhythm going on offense.

Predictably, the difference in this game was the untenable Russ Smith who finished 7-12 from the field and had 18 points for the Cards.  Russdiculous led the Cards in scoring for the 8th time this season and also had 4 steals.  Russ’ ability to show no fear and be an “agitator” for the Louisville offense has proven to be a major asset for this team, but his unpredictable nature makes Rick Pitino and the entire Louisville fan base uneasy.  Still, no one on this Louisville team has the mentality that Russ has, and his killer instinct and complete lack of fear is exactly the right prescription for the Cardinals this season.

Louisville does, however, need more out of Chris Smith.  Smith was held without a field goal in Louisville’s loss to Cincinnati Thursday night, was 0-4 this afternoon against Pitt as well.  There is no way Louisville can survive a late March run with such ineffective play from Chris Smith.  But the answer for Chris might just be getting some tempo.  So we will see if Pitino can get any going on Wednesday night vs. the South Florida Bulls who also like to slow the game down.

Pittsburgh dominated the glass pulling down 38 rebounds and limited Louisville to just 25.  The difference came at the free throw line where the Cards were able to make up the difference as Pitt fouled 24 times and sent UofL to the line for 28 free throw attempts.  But Cardinal fans should be encouraged by the fact that Kyle Kuric had a quick turnaround following an 0-11 performance on Thursday with a 5-8 shooting night including 4-7 from 3-point range.

There was cause for concern, however, with Louisville’s late game execution.  Particularly at the foul line where Gorgui Dieng and Chane Behanan both missed front end of the “One and One” inside the final minute.  Ashton Gibbs took a last second 3-point attempt that went off the rim that could have tied the game and forced overtime, but that would not have been possible if Louisville had capitalized on just 1 of the 4 potential opportunities that were missed due to the two missed front ends.

In the end, Louisville got a much needed win even if it was against a struggling Pittsburgh team.  This Pitt team could win a few games in the Big East Tournament, but it’s total body of work is going to require to win the league’s tournament to get into the NCAA Tournament.  Otherwise we’ll see this Pitt team in the NIT.  We’ll see everyone back at the KFC Yum! Center on Wednesday night to close out the home regular season slate.

Pittsburgh – Louisville Preview

Louisville will try to shake off a tough road loss at Cincinnati tomorrow as Pittsburgh comes to town looking for revenge. The Cards won the first contest going away last month, 73-62. Pitt started Big East play 0-8, struggling without Tray Woodall, who returned against Louisville. His presence hasn’t helped much, and the Panthers are 4-5 with him in the lineup for Big East games. They reeled off four consecutive wins after the loss to the Cards, including a 12 point win over Georgetown and a win over WVU in Morgantown. They have mirrored that four game win streak with the four game losing streak they currently ride, and they are averaging only 53 points per game during that streak.

This is an interesting game to call. Louisville will no doubt be the favorite, and is certainly the better team. But Pittsburgh has talent with All Big East guard Ashton Gibbs, and after losing four in a row, they are hungry – make that starving for a win. It obviously helps that the game is at home, but this will mark only the second Sunday game in KFC Yum! Center history. The first was the white out against sixth-ranked Pittsburgh last year, a game far, far easier for fans to get excited about. It will be interesting to see what kind of crowd we see tomorrow.

One thing is for sure, Louisville has got to shoot the ball better than it did against Cincinnati. I thought they did a great job of getting open shots, and the halfcourt offense actually looked pretty good. Each of the 14 three point shots we took were wide open and within the flow of the offense. Unfortunately, only one of them went through the basket. The presence of Wayne Blackshear is absolutely vital to this team moving forward. He is a game-time decision tomorrow, though Pitino said he will definitely play against USF. His presence provides rest for Kuric, and more importantly gives a bad shooting team another shooter. He would be a big lift tomorrow if we need him to play.

In the end, Louisville should come away with the victory. I look for Kuric to bounce back in a big way in the comfortable confines of the Yum Center. He had 21 points against Pitt the first go-round, drilling five threes against them. Behanan and Dieng also had monster lines that game. Look for them to once again dominate the soft Pittsburgh frontcourt. I look for the Cards to notch a ten point win – but anything could happen.


From the It’s About Freakin Time Department, DeJuan Wheat will finally have his jersey honored tomorrow. Wheat is the second-leading scorer in Louisville history, behind only Dr. Dunkenstein himself. The man was straight silky, and has been a legend since he graduated in 1997. Fans have clamored for years for him to be honored, and tomorrow he will get his long overdue spot in the rafters. We will never know what could have been with the 96-97 Cards. Wheat was visibly limping throughout the Elite 8 game against North Carolina, and was held ineffective for the contest. He was such a baller though that if he was at full strength Louisville would have obviously beaten UNC and won it all. Well, maybe….


Speaking of that game, that was the only regional final Denny Crum ever lost as a coach. He was 6-1 in that round. Tomorrow, mayor Greg Fischer will lead the festivities downtown as a giant mural of the great Coach Crum will be unveiled on the west wall of the Mariott. This will be a part of the Hometown Heroes initiative, which include giant murals of Darrell Griffith on the side of the Watterson City building, and Muhammad Ali on the side of the LG&E facility. Coach Crum, we salute you.