The Confidential

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In 2013, Louisville Again Proves Its Worth



If any doubt still existed as to whether the University of Louisville was the right choice for membership into the Atlantic Coast Conference, those doubts were dashed on Saturday, March 16, 2013.

As I watched my beloved Cardinals struggle, persevere and then triumph against the Syracuse Orange in the last Big East Championship title game of the modern era, I couldn’t help but think about all the naysayers and detractors of Belknap’s athletic department as the ACC made its decision in 2012.

Louisville basketball has come a long way, to be sure. We were always the known unknown who entered and left conferences. From the Metro Conference to Conference USA to the Big East Conference, the pride of Louisville proved and proved and proved themselves to fans, outsiders and future conference brass by winning national titles and battling our way into Final Fours. When Rick Pitino was hired as head coach after legend Denny Crum wrapped up his career, fans instantly knew the future was bright and we would give our new coach as much time as he needed.

What we have accomplished as members of the Big East is still unfathomable in my eyes. I’m sure the Villanovas and Syracuses and Georgetowns and Connecticuts chided the decision to add us and others to their ranks and assumed they would continue to dominate the league. No one could have written the memorable storyline the Cardinals have produced since 2005.

Louisville became the winningest program since the realignment of 2005 and has now won its third conference basketball championship. As finalists of the tournament in four of the last five years, the Cardinals have continued to prove their worth on the hardwood.

2013 Big East Champions(Credits:

2013 Big East Champions

In football, Louisville has always faced an uphill challenge. Scheduling juggernauts like Alabama, Georgia and Notre Dame had been a difficult feat to claim, and recruiting the best players from around the country has never been our trademark. However, the football Cardinals made it their mission to always be satisfied with the progression of the program and to constantly improve from within.

Having won our two Bowl Championship Series matchups (2006 FedEx Orange Bowl and 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl), we put everything on the field when we are placed on the stage and told to perform.

When Coach Charlie Strong chose to extend his contract at Louisville rather than take the Tennessee job with the Southeastern Conference, fans surrounding the university knew what he thought about his current job and the institution. The sigh of relief throughout the River City came from fans who realized that our time had finally come to keep our coach and strive to maintain and surpass our accomplishments.

Although elevated, it is clear head coach Charlie Strong is not satisfied with the heights of the program under his tutelage. The invitation to the ACC combined with the fashion in which Louisville dealt the Gators the loss in the Sugar Bowl sent the city into overdrive.

Coach Charlie Strong celebrates after the 2013 Sugar Bowl victory(Credits: Getty Images)

Coach Charlie Strong celebrates after the 2013 Sugar Bowl victory
(Credits: Getty Images)

All we ask is for a chance to prove our worth. That is all we have ever wanted, and it appears we will soon get our chance once again in the prestigious ACC in 2014.

While Fans Honeymoon, Louisville Releases 2013 Football Schedule

Louisville Football has only one more year of [insert conference name here] competition before entering the Atlantic Coast Conference.  While many fans would rather hit the fast forward button and quickly arrive to fall 2014 than sit through another lackluster conference season, the Confidential cautions those future seekers not to overlook the opportunity at hand.

Times of great change can be very exciting.  Remember back to the days of constantly surfing the internet for any update on UofL’s chances of getting into the Big 12?  Perhaps you were busy burning up the computer looking for a way into the ACC?  No doubt some of you were also keeping an eye out for SEC expansion news.  The last several years have been filled with a barrage of intensity, not to mention enthusiasm.

But don’t forget about the present just yet, my friends.  UofL athletics is still on its ACC honeymoon.  I don’t know about you, but at no point of my honeymoon did I ever wish for it be over.  The exhilaration of accomplishment can quickly transition back to mundane existence.  While memories of extravagant honeymoons can be easily summoned after the fact, we will never live in this existence again.

On Wednesday, the University of Louisville released its 2013 football schedule.  Most interestingly, the Cardinals have three bye weeks sprinkled throughout.  The most important bye appears in just the right place – the week before the season finale against rival Cincinnati.

8/31 Saturday Ohio PJCS
9/7 Saturday Eastern Kentucky PJCS
9/14 Saturday Kentucky Lexington
9/21 Saturday Florida International PJCS
9/28 Saturday Bye
10/5 Saturday Temple Philadelphia
10/10 Thursday Rutgers PJCS
10/18 Friday Central Florida PJCS
10/26 Saturday South Florida Tampa
11/2 Saturday Bye
11/8 Friday Connecticut East Hartford
11/16 Saturday Houston PJCS
11/23 Saturday Memphis PJCS
11/30 Saturday Bye
12/5 Thursday Cincinnati Cincinnati

If you’re looking at the schedule and letting out a huge sigh, you’re not alone.  The marquee games per se on the schedule are Kentucky, Rutgers and Cincinnati.  While Ohio, UCF, USF and Houston are no pushovers, there just isn’t too much substance for fans to celebrate in the 2013 season.

Alas, there will be no conference championship game as previously planned.  A ten-team league was formed when Boise State and San Diego State committed to the Big East, but their change of heart cost the league a season finale.

There has to be some good news about this schedule, right?  Well, if you consider the weak schedule as proper impetus to win every game and defend our BCS win, then yes.  If for no other reason, true fans should support the Cardinals as they attempt to end the pre-ACC days on a positive note.

I would love to wake up tomorrow to find Louisville and its athletic programs already members of the ACC and having kissed their shaky Big East days goodbye.  However, if that were the case, the honeymoon would be over and would soon become a distant memory.

It is only fitting that we fans wait for our future – it allows us time to reflect on our university’s rich history, athletic successes and academic trajectory.  Being wanted and feeling valued gives fans pride and a sense of being on cloud nine.  Frankly, I’m too comfortable for that sensation to pass.

May the honeymoon never end, UofL.

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