Bobby Petrino is revered as a top-level college football coach. He has the reputation of an offensive genius and has earned the national respect of his coaching peers and everyone associated with college football. He was just about to take himself, along with the University of Louisville football program, to that level in 2007 but in January of 2007 his abrupt and selfish departure to the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons cost both Petrino and the University that perceived national respect they both so strongly coveted. The Petrino led Cards had just finished the 2006 season with a 12-1 record, an Orange Bowl victory and a school-high ranking of #3 in the country after beating the then #3 team WVU in the Blackout game at Papa Johns Cardinal Stadium. On the night before my birthday, Louisville had 1 heartbreaking loss at Rutgers that most likely costs them a spot in the national championship game (I still hate Ito). Together, Petrino and Louisville seemed to be headed for a constant spot near the top of the college football rankings. But it wasn’t meant to be. Well, at least not then.
After leaving the Falcons, Petrino headed back to the collegiate ranks settling at Arkansas. He was there to establish himself as an offensive genius implementing the Power Spread Option Offense that proved the importance of the running game and the running backs in that offensive style. He was shredding SEC defenses like he was playing against Pop Warner teams. Petrino was earning back that coaching respect.
Meanwhile in Louisville, we were starting an era of football that we would all like to forget. It only took 2 days to replace Petrino but it hurt for 3 seasons. The Cards started the 2007 season ranked in the top 10 and would be a combined 15-21 over the next three seasons with no bowl appearances. In doing so, the Cards lost all the respect as a national power that they started building during the Petrino era.
Seven years after Petrino left Louisville, the two were reunited when in January of 2014, Petrino was hired as the Louisville football coach.The timing of the hiring was impeccable because Louisville was moving into power 5 football by joining the ACC. Both Petrino and Louisville are looking to get back to that place where they left off at in 2007.
While Petrino had earned that national respect, Louisville had not.
The stars are starting to align perfectly to take Louisville back to national prominence. The 2015 Music City bowl victory was a huge indication of what is to come. Nationally, the bowl game didn’t gain much respect because the majority of the lazy media saw a final score of 27-21 and the story going into the game was that Texas A&M was in turmoil after losing their top two quarterbacks. So most national media outlets basically said “Meh, Louisville wins bowl game.” When realistically, if you actually watched the game, it was the coming out party for one Lamar Jackson and a showcase of all the young talent on the team. Jackson was the MVP and set a Music City Bowl record with 226 rushing yards. He also passed for 227 yards and accounted for 4 total touchdowns.
Slowly but surely the media is coming around on Louisville calling them a dark horse for the college football playoffs and Lamar is getting a little Heisman hype. If Petrino wants to take Louisville to another level of respect, now is the time. It’s time to start winning championships. I’m not saying that we should win the national championship this year but rather let’s start by winning the Atlantic division, then the ACC and work our way up to the grand prize over the next few years. Let’s keep our hopes up high but always remember that Lamar Jackson has not yet been the starting quarterback for two consecutive games and he is only a sophomore. Let’s also remember that Bobby Petrino has never had a weapon like Lamar to play with. It’s going to be a fun year offensively. Remember the first Petrino era where, if we were to win, we had to have the ball last because we couldn’t stop anybody? We had to win 55-52. Those days are gone because Petrino now has a top-level defense. This could be the year we get over that hump of beating the likes of Clemson and Florida State. It’s going to be a fun year. It’s time to rise up to the next level and get back on the map that leads to national prominence. It’s time to make them into believers. It’s time!
This is just a warning. Don’t sleep on this Louisville team. The recipe for success is to have the balance of a potent offense, a stingy defense and having the right man driving the ship. Louisville has all the ingredients and now it’s time to start cooking. This team has a chip on its shoulder and is ready to prove to everyone that they are a top level team and deserve top-level respect. You have been warned!
Time to Make them into Believers❗️ #BIRDGANG🐔
— Lamar Jackson (@Lj_era8) July 13, 2016
As Always, GO CARDS!