Photo: Scott Utterback the CJ
Yesterday, I unfortunately didn’t make it home from work until around 2 A.M. This threw everything off that I had planned and I was very nervous. Factoring in time to fall asleep and then a couple of hours actually sleeping, I had to start my Saturday run at 8:30 instead of 7:30. The run was about 2 hours and then as a good fur parent I wanted to take my pup (Teddy B) out for a few miles to get him some exercise as well. I had planned for a long day of Louisville Athletics and knew he wouldn’t get to attend the games (sidenote: we need a new pets policy for outdoor events) so I finished my morning errands around 12:15.
I took a quick shower and ordered my food online while the shower warmed up. I wanted to pick it up on the way to PJCS with minimal time of stoppage not just because I HAD to be there in time to see Lambo & Co™ kickoff the unofficial football season, but because I had high expectations. Not high expectations for the team but high expectations for the fans.
I am not fortunate enough to be able to afford every football game. Honestly, I am happy to make it to any game. When I do make a game, my seats are not the best and these pre-season games, be it football or basketball, are my way to sit closer to the action and take in every snap from a rare perspective.
I was determined to be early and was very frustrated that after picking up food and parking, it was 1:10 by the time I walked the four blocks to the stadium. The Red team had already scored twice but that was not what frustrated me the most. What frustrated me the most was that I still got to sit in the lower level at Papa Johns. Normally this would not be something to bemoan, but I secretly wanted to be flushed up to the Flight Deck. I wanted my lateness to put me eye to eye with Southwest Airlines flights, not the recruits in section 130 in the roped off section for families.
Louisville is a GREAT program. There is no debate to that anymore. Our facilities make news, our coach signing a contract extension is the lead story on sport’s networks, our team is nationally recognized and has buzz heading into the season. You know what holds UofL back and is not yet great? The fans.
Brutal honesty here, but on a day of perfect weather, free carnivals and roughly 11 hours of free Louisville sports with zero chance of rain why is the draw only 16,000 fans?
As I sat in my sun stained pink seats, I wondered how many of the 50,000 fans at Clemson were watching at home and laughing. Oh wait? Our game wasn’t on television because we haven’t earned that yet. Maybe for good reason…that would have just been more room for the 100,000 at Ohio State where it was roughly 10 degrees cooler to point out how empty our seats were in spots.
Honestly, why would you NOT want to come watch this free event? Fresh off of the huge bowl win over a powerhouse with a potential Heisman candidate at QB and sleeper playoff pick from more than one expert?
If you were not there, and many of you weren’t, you missed out. Sure it was a blowout, and sure some things can be taken with not even a full grain of salt but our white team was comprised of D1 football players who would start somewhere and probably here soon. The defense was good except for a few arm tackles and a few people trying to tackle too high, but they were young and over the summer you can coach that out.
But what you really missed out on was meeting Lambo Lamar Jackson. Or Action Jackson, not sure which one we are rolling with at this point. Lamar had video game numbers. Things I did with Peyton Manning on Madden 2010. I know you can discount some of that but those who showed up cannot discount watching his improved technique and footwork. The accuracy is much better and the overall improvement is scary. Google Coach Petrino playbook and see how famously big and complex it is. Last year Lamar used his natural ability and was amazing, imagine how great he will be with complete understanding of Bobby Ball…
However, most impressive was the lack of running. Lamar is one of the best runners in the country at ANY position. And as a former speedster I know what the temptation to run can feel like, especially when you KNOW the defense is not allowed to tackle you. He could have put up the same types of video game numbers on the ground, and I’m positive 2015 Lamar would have. This iteration of Lamar Jackson was disciplined and read the defense to see what they gave him. That ridiculous 85 yard touchdown pass? It was not designed to go that far but he saw the opening and threw it on the money. Also, that pass was in the air about 63.5 yards and on target. Unreal.
I could go on and on about the greatness of the game but that would reward those who failed to show up.
I cannot fathom why so many people were like “meh, I won’t go outside on this perfection of a day for a free football game.” Maybe my view is skewed since I don’t have the luxury of some ballers and know that I will see any game I want this season because I financially can so I’ll spend this great day on my boat docked at River Park Place or my house in Prospect. Maybe that was it. Or maybe they incorrectly assumed, like I did, that it would be so full that they would be forced to sit up top (THE HORROR!!) and figured why bother. I am not sure but one thing I am sure of is this:
THIS IS NOT HOW THE ELITE PROGRAMS DO THE SPRING GAME
PJCS should be full on days like this. There is no excuse for an ACC power to not even be at 50% capacity in one of the nicest and most comfortable stadiums in the country. Does some blame fall on the University for marketing reasons? Maybe but about 2,000 people worth of blame. Where were the other 37,000?
Your coach just got a great contract and the future looks bright. Expansion is again on the horizon for the already incredible stadium. Why expand a stadium that is not full for a free event? I really want the expansion but some ‘fans’ really don’t deserve it at this point. The team does, the program does, Tom Jurich does…but do you?
What really hurt is that this was the FIRST post NCAA tourney step to healing. Louisville needs a win and not speaking in terms of beating an opponent. It is more a chance to beat this bad aura that has festered since Shewhowillnotbenamed first came out of the woodwork. It is time to move beyond all of that other stuff that is now in the rearview short of receiving the NOA and progressing on. If there were ever a spring game to sell out it was this one. Here was something free and happy on a beautiful day and so many people decided to stay home and not care.
This makes no sense to me. Hopefully soon the fan base can grow to be the one that this team has earned and rightfully deserves.