*Disclosure: To this point (only two volumes) Justin Case You Care has been a way for me to talk about random topics like concerts, fantasy football, AdvoCare, and more. Not this time. This HAS to be about the Florida State game on Saturday. I will return to randomness next time.*
For the most part, my favorite posts that I do are when I have no real sense of direction on where the article will go. I just sit and start typing and see where it takes me, so that is what I am going to do. Last night and tonight I sat here and knew I wanted to come up with something to express how this week has been going with all of the hype leading up to Saturday. I had a few different ideas: an ode to the fans saying we deserve this moment, a post to question if this is the biggest game ever for UofL, and a few other topics. Instead, it’s time to roll all of that up and just ramble and see where we go. Let’s do this…
I hope everyone has enjoyed the ride this week. It has felt like Derby week with all of the buzz and excitement. There are even events around town. College Football Live is Friday, SportsCenter at the Red Rage Tailgate on Saturday, College Gameday on Saturday, the event of finding a ticket to the game itself, and it all culminates with kickoff at noon inside Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. It has felt like the longest week ever, but the hype and buildup have been enjoyable to say the least.
Focus on real life has all but gone out the window this week. The buzz around this game truly is like nothing I have seen before involving Louisville football. I don’t like speaking in hyperbole and overreacting and calling things the “best ever” if I don’t think they are. But this really could be the biggest game in the history of UofL football. What would rival it for me is West Virginia in 2006. That is a debate in itself. You could call either one the biggest ever and I would understand. Those are my top two. I just can’t put the Sugar Bowl or Fiesta Bowl above them, but that’s just me.
It’s just crazy. College Gameday is in town. SportsCenter will go live at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning from the Red Rage Tailgate, which is amazing in itself. We have a radio station doing 24 hours of coverage leading up to kickoff. Did you ever think that THAT would happen? We are certainly in a different time than ever before for this program. All eyes in the college football world will be on our city this weekend. It’s our chance to step up and give them a reason to come back.
I never thought that I would see tickets be so hard to come by. They used to give away tickets at local gas stations. Looking in that upper deck every game and seeing how empty it looks (party deck is full of course), I didn’t think we would get to a point where one would have to pay around $150 for one ticket to the flight deck. It’s incredible. I can make an entire post about my feelings on that, but I won’t. I will just say that it is basically Card on Card crime this week with people making that kind of money off of other Cards fans, assuming that is who is buying them. But you do you.
As I sit here, 36 hours before kickoff, I can’t help but think of how far this program has come. We almost gave up football in the 80’s, GAVE IT UP. We played in a stadium that smelled like horse poo and had different colored seats and also bleachers. Not to mention the teams pretty much played on concrete. But one thing that we did do…we would play against anyone in the country. I went to games as a kid where we hosted the likes of Texas and Penn State. It was that kind of mentality by Howard Schnellenberger that helped build this program. Not only build the program, but build Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Fast forward to the new stadium that held 42,000 people for this little ol’ Conference USA team. Any night of the week, you could turn it on ESPN and there is Louisville football. That was Tom Jurich doing whatever it took to get this program on TV. Anything for that exposure. It worked. Year by year, little by little, the program grew. John L. led us to new heights after the program was in shambles after a 1-10 season in 1997. He then passed it off to Bobby Petrino.
Petrino took what John L. built and ran with it. He ran all the way to a BCS Bowl Game, and a win in that game. In 1997, Louisville went 1-10 playing in Old Cardinal Stadium. Just nine years later, we won a BCS game. Pretty remarkable.
I don’t need to go through every year. We know the program was then brought down to the bottom, and then Charlie Strong brought us back, and now Bobby is at the helm again to do what he did last time…take what the previous coach left and run with it to the next level. And that is where we find ourselves now.
We are in the ACC now. We don’t have to just circle one game every season as our one big game. If we want to be big time and make the College Football Playoff, these are the games you have to win. You don’t get to lose to Florida State and Clemson and still win the ACC. That isn’t an option. Well if it isn’t an option, then we won’t do it.
In each of our first two years in the league, we led Florida State at the half and we lost to Clemson by 6 points or less. It was more of a “Hey guys, just wanted to introduce ourselves. We are new here and won’t be a pushover. We don’t want to intrude just yet, just wanted to say hey.” Nice time is over. Louisville is ready to knock the door down of the ACC, and it starts on Saturday against Florida State.
We almost gave up football in the 80’s. Now it’s our time to be on the map with the elites, and not just visit, but make a permanent residence.
“The University of Louisville is on a collision course with the national championship. The only variable is time.” – Howard Schnellenberger
The time is now. Go Cards…Beat Florida State!