Louisville can lay claim to being the first to do a few things. We all know Louisville Basketball in the 80’s were the first invent and execute the “High Five”. We know that the first pizza John Schnatter ever baked was in a broom closet here in Louisville. The first coach to lead 3 schools to the Final Four and also the first coach to win championships at two different schools is currently calling plays on Main St. here in Louisville. The first person to say he was the G.O.A.T and actually back it up was born and raised here.
But one thing Louisville does not get a lot of credit for is the fact that we made playing on every day of the week other than Saturday trendy and cool. Back in my college days at UofL in the early 2000’s there were numerous times I found myself rushing from class to get changed so that I could head to the stadium for Cardinal Football games. Back then, games were played on a Tuesday night, sometimes a Sunday night, sometimes a Wednesday night. Louisville would play any team, anywhere, anytime, any day of the week. While it sucked for people with kids and full time jobs, it helped with recruiting and also gave Cardinal Footballl exclusive exposure on ESPN. Many recruits who would later play for UofL stated they got interested in the program because they were the only team playing on a given night. Seriously, before Louisville did it what other time could you tune in and watch live College Football on a Tuesday ??? Yeah I pissed and moaned at the time but as we have all come to realize, never doubt Tom Jurich. Him agreeing to schedule football games any day of the week payed huge dividends in the long run. We have since moved on from the “pick a day” games and now you can find us at noon on mostly every Saturday because the ACC won’t let us be great and tailgate. I am joking but seriously we like to tailgate too ACC, try scheduling some 330 games for us. Ever so often though you can find us on Friday night. And that my friend is when the oven lights shine bright and the heat is turned up. Gosh I have to stop making sh*tty puns when I write.
How can I describe Friday night in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium? It’s like you are in high school again at the football game. Difference is your date is your spouse, the post game party is in the parking lot, you don’t have to sneak alcohol into the game because it is already provided, and you get to wake up on Saturday morning hungover with a list of things to do but no obligation to do them. Louisville doesn’t have a big club or party scene but as a city we have one thing in common, we like to drink, socialize and watch college sports.
There is plenty of history in PJCS for Friday games. Not all games are classics but there has been a few. Petrino’s first tenure I remember beating Rutgers 56-5 and thinking how it must suck trying to tackle Michael Bush. I remember getting our asses whipped at home by Utah and Cincy while the crowd drank and reminisced back to when we were good. You can blame those Friday losses on the book club coach, I won’t ever mention his name in my blog posts because that is like saying Candyman’s name 5 times in the mirror. Say his name and your team will never have a winning season again. The Friday night game against Cincy when Bilal Powell went 80 yards for a TD when he should have been tackled at the line of scrimmage. The redemption game against Cincy watching Teddy find Devante in the back of the end zone and then again on the sideline. PJCS exploded as Parker streaked across the field in the rain for a touchdown andfinally rejoicing that the Keg of Nails was home. Watching an undefeated season get snatched away in about 20 minutes by a guy named Storm, his quarterback Bortles, and a coach who didn’t even graduate from the D.A.R.E program.
This Friday we are just interested to see if Bobby’s team attempts to put 80 up or not. A top ten Louisville team who lost a heart-breaker on the road is back. A hungry defense that was embarrassed two weeks ago faces Duke’s redshirt freshman who is a turnover machine, but still better than Gary Nova (suck it Rutgers, oh look, Michigan just scored again). A Heisman hopeful who was last seen banging his fist into his helmet as he tasted defeat for the 1st time this year goes against a defense that gave up a 40+ yard run to a fullback last week. Should be a good time, pencil me in.
Look, we may not have long standing traditions here but it’s coming. We may have a ways to go before we are considered “big time”but it’s coming. We don’t have a trendy song, or a live mascot, or a lot of things as we are still building an identity as a member of the ACC. But we do have Friday Night tradition in Louisville and we have the history to prove it. We are the first to do a lot of things here in Louisville, making it cool to play on Friday night is one of them.