Four Cardinals Sign as Undrafted Free Agents

Following the conclusion of the 2013 NFL Draft, four former University of Louisville football players signed as undrafted free agents.

Center Mario Benavides agreed to sign with the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday, offensive tackle Alex Kupper with the Houston Texans cornerback Adrian Bushell inked a deal with the Oakland Raiders, and Jeremy Wright signed with the New York Giants.

Benavides was one of the most consistent players on the rosters, appearing in 47 games as a starter. He posted his best years in 2013, starting all 13 games and earning first team All-BIG EAST accolades. He helped guide the Cardinals to an 11-2 record and a win over third-ranked Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

With Benavides at center, the Cardinals averaged over 30 points per game and 418.8 yards of total offense.

Kupper started 26 straight games, appearing on all positions on the offensive line. He made starts at tackle, guard and center during his career. He made 13 starts in each of the last two seasons. A product of Louisville, Ky., Kupper started the first three games at center because of an injury to Mario Benavides. Kupper earned second team All-BIG EAST accolades this past season after anchoring down the left tackle position.

Bushell was a two-time All-BIG EAST selection after transferring from Florida. This season, Bushell finished fourth on the team in tackles with 62 and led the team with 13 pass breakups. Bushell recorded one interception and recovered three fumbles in leading the Cardinals’ defense to its third straight top 25 finish in the national statistics.

Wright led the Sugar Bowl Champions in rushing with 824 yards and 10 Touchdowns, and also was Teddy Bridgewater’s 3rd favorite target with 41 catches for 325 yards.  Jeremy left the Cardinals with a year of eligibility remaining and will have a fantastic opportunity with the traditional NFC East power.

Cardinals Add Mike Balado to Men’s Basketball Staff

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Mike Balado, who served as an assistant coach at Florida International University last season, has joined the University of Louisville men’s basketball staff in a similar capacity as announced Friday by UofL Head Coach Rick Pitino.

Balado (pronounced bah-LAW-doe) helped FIU to quickly achieve success over the past year when the 18-14 Panthers produced their first winning season in 13 years, the fourth-highest win total in school history and the most Sun Best Conference victories (11) since joining the league in 1998-99.  He was an assistant under Richard Pitino, the son of UofL head coach Rick Pitino who is now the head coach at Minnesota.

“Mike brings a wealth of experience in both the recruiting world and in coaching,” said Pitino. “An important factor in adding him to our staff was his knowledge of what we do defensively and in scouting, after working with Richard (Pitino) for a year.  It should not take a great deal of time in acclimating him to our program.  He’s a tireless worker and he should fit like a glove.  He also brings another facet to our recruiting efforts, as he speaks fluent Spanish and has connections throughout Latin America.”

“I am excited and honored to have the opportunity to work for Coach Pitino and the University of Louisville,” said Balado. “Given the chance to learn from arguably the best coach, mentor, and person in the game of basketball is truly a blessing.”

Prior to his year at FIU, Balado worked three seasons at High Point University (2009-12), where he assisted in all areas of the Panther basketball program with a heavy concentration on recruiting.  He spent the 2008-09 season on the University of Miami (Fla.) basketball staff where he helped the Hurricanes compile a 19-13 record and a berth in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) while working on player development, scouting and game preparation.

Prior to coaching at Miami, Balado spent three years on the Florida Atlantic University basketball staff.  In Balado’s first season at FAU in 2005-06, the team posted its second-consecutive winning season, the first time since the early 1990s that the Owls had consecutive winning seasons.  The team set a program scoring record, averaging 74.9 points per game, and produced the best Atlantic Sun Conference record in school history (14-6 mark in 2005-06).

Balado spent two seasons as an assistant at Miami Dade College before taking the post at FAU. While at Miami Dade, he helped lead the Sharks to back-to-back winning seasons, including a program-best 27-5 mark en route to the conference championship in 2004-05. He recruited four of Miami Dade’s 2004-05 all-conference selections, including the league player of the year.

Prior to his time at MDC, Balado spent a year at Nova Southeastern University, where he served as an assistant under head coach Gary Tuell, a former UofL assistant coach and sports information director.  He began his collegiate coaching career at Augusta (Ga.) State University where he served as a graduate assistant from 1998-2000.

Balado played collegiate basketball at St. Thomas University in Miami, where he was a two-year starter and captain while helping his team win the regular season conference title in 1997.  Recipient of a student-athlete leadership award as a senior, he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from St. Thomas in 1998 and a master’s of education in exercise and sport science from Augusta State in 2000.

A native of Miami, Fla., Balado speaks fluent Spanish.  He is married to the former Alicia Nigro and the couple had twins, Aiden and Addy, in June 2009.

Balado replaces Kareem Richardson, who left UofL to become the head coach at the University of Missouri Kansas City.  Richardson is the 26th former assistant or player under Rick Pitino who has risen to a collegiate head coaching position and is one of 10 active coaches on that list.

Louisville 2013 Trophy Presentation PHOTO by Mark Blankenbaker
RAW: Louisville 2013 National Championship Celebration

Now that CrumsRevenge has released his highlight video, I wanted to release the FULL 22 minutes that I captured on the floor during the celebration of the Cardinals winning the 2013 National Championship. The footage is RAW, and I did cut out some extremely shaky footage while moving about, but it does kind of give you a feel for what it was like on the floor after the Cards won the 2013 Title in Atlanta.

Louisville to Play At Notre Dame in 2014

From UofL SID

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Atlantic Coast Conference has announced football scheduling plans with Louisville and Notre Dame in a matchup that will take place at Notre Dame in 2014.

A date for the game has yet to be determined, and will be announced at a later date.

As part of the agreement to join the Atlantic Coast Conference, Notre Dame will play five ACC teams each year, alternating between three home games and two away and two home games and three away each year. Notre Dame will face every ACC team at least once in the first three-year rotation of games.

“We are excited for the opportunity to play a program with the history like Notre Dame,” Vice-President/Director of Athletics Tom Jurich said. “Notre Dame advanced to the BCS title game last season before falling to Alabama, so it will be a great challenge for our program as we transition into the ACC. More importantly, I’m thrilled for our fans who will have the opportunity to see us play Notre Dame in 2014.”

This will be the first meeting between the two universities on the football field.

The Fighting Irish finished last season at 12-1 before dropping a 42-14 decision to Alabama in the BCS title game.