Ok so today i thought i would talk about our great and not so great coaches in the time that i have watched UL football, which was since i was a kid. 6 coaches have come and five have gone. The reasons why the others have left are mostly because they have used the University of Louisville as a stepping stone, 2 couldn’t cut the mustard. (see Krags and Coop) We are without a doubt an on the rise football program and that rise begin back in 1985 when he came to The Ville fresh off of a National Championship at the U. He almost never came as he was hired as the head coach of the relocated Washington USFL team that was going to be in Miami. The owner decided that he didn’t wanna compete with the dolphins and moved to Orlando instead. Howard wasnt kept when the team decided to move to Orlando and the rest is history. Howard came to Louisville and brought a struggling Louisville program to the cusp of greatness. Although he went a modest 54-56-2, he was credited for building the foundation of what was to come, National relevance. He was here from 1984-1994
In 1995 after Howard retired, there was a buzz around the program, we all knew that Howard had put us in a place we wanted so bad. This year was the year I went to play football for the University of Louisville. Most recruits around the area were worried that the new coach may not honor their scholarships, others wondered were they gonna like the new coach. Area standout Chris Redman committed to Illinois because Howard was gone, a calm unrest surrounded the program. (oxymoron) Then out of the blue, Ron Cooper came to town. He was by far one of the coolest guys i ever met. He treated everyone real well. His only problem was he tried too hard to be our friend. There were many times he would show up at night just wanting to hang and bond with us. That in my opinion was the reason we went 1-10 his last year. He tried to be too cool,however one of the nicest people i have ever met and i hold a great deal of respect for him. Coop left us with a 13-20 record over 3 seasons including the 1-10 finale.
Next up was the savior…John L. Smith. He may not have left the best way but he salvaged the ship that Coop left (Kragthorpe V1) and put things back on track. He did things with our team that were amazing. His downfalls however were two things: Talent evaluation and not enough patience. He told guys to go pro that shouldnt have, held guys back that should have gone. Had he waited a few more seasons for that BCS school he ran for, he could have had that here. Hard to argue with a 41-21 record over 5 seasons. He was here from 1998-2002 until he left for the greener pastures of Michigan State.
Next was a phenom by the name of Bobby Petrino or suitcase Bobby, as I affectionately call him. 4 seasons 41-9 2 years in CUSA and 2 in the big east culminating with one of our biggest bowl games and wins ever, the 2007 Orange bowl. 3 seasons ending the season ranked,2 top 6 finishes and some of the best recruits we ever had. Unfortunately for the University Bobby’s eyes were full of green, money green. He bounced after just four seasons and left a bad taste in our mouths…that taste Steve Kragthorpe…..Petrino left in 07 when jumping to the Arkansas Razorbacks.
Steve Kragthorpe……smh. What else can you say? he turned a preseason top 10 team into a laughing-stock. He started a nightmare losing streak to Kentucky that just ended and just wasnt the right piece for the puzzle. Most say hiring him was the only error that Mr Tom Jurich has ever made. Out of respect to his current condition, that’s all I will say about this genuinely good guy. He was here for three seasons from 07-09 and had a record of 15-21 record.
Now comes the present…really he was a present. A diamond in the rough. Charlie Strong was hired by Louisville for the 2010 season. He had interviewed elsewhere and was overlooked. He had been interviewing for years and years and nobody had ever picked him until this point. Thank you to all that has passed on his services. even though he has had a modest 14-12 record in his 2 seasons here so far, he has turned the attitude of the city,program and players completely around. He helped sign a phenomenal recruiting class for his second season and is working on another one for 2012. This guy is the epitome of hard-work, dedication and straight up he is just a football coach. we hope he’s here for many, many years.
It’s hard to believe we have been through so many coaches with the success we have had the past 20 years. It’s not like these guys that left were all bad coaches either. During the Arkansas-LSU game the past four coaches were all on the field together. Bobby Petrino and John L Smith were coaching for Arkansas and Ron Cooper and Steve Kragthorpe were coaching for LSU. All were really good guys. I may not be sure of where this program is going, but one thing I’m sure of….I dont wanna add another name to this list anytime soon.