Being a UofL fan has been difficult these last couple of years. Trace it back to October 2015 when news of an unthinkable scandal broke.
Follow the thread to the postseason ban, the war over the Board of Trustees, the horrendous finish to an otherwise successful football season, the audit that found wrongdoing by our former President, the Notice of Allegations, the announcement of the sanctions, and the Yum Center financing deal. All these embarrassments cast a pall over UofL fans and alums leaving us feeling as if the university was unraveling.
Yes, we had small breaks of sunshine through the thick clouds.
Damien Lee and Trey Lewis showed us true strength when they lost a dream they longed for and deserved. A dream they lost through no fault of their own. They played every game with passion and won a victory that no one can ever take away. They won every Cardinal fan’s heart.
Lamar Jackson electrified the college football world on the field and remained humble, yet, jovial off it. His talent and persona combined to allow him to bring home a Heisman to dear old UofL.
Brendan McKay dazzled on the mound and with his bat as he won every conceivable college baseball award and led the Card 9 to Omaha. He also became a top 4 pick in the MLB draft.
Mallory Comerford won a national title in swimming by tying Katie Ledecky, who is arguably one of the greatest women’s swimmers of all time. All rays of light in the darkness.
Yet it seems the gloom still lingers. Our banner is in jeopardy. The appeals process will drag on into the season. Drama between the city and the university has left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. A battle between certain Board of Trustees members and Tom Jurich may be just beginning. It seems the clouds will never break.
Yet, I believe the sun will shine bright again over Cardinaldom. This coming 2017-2018 UofL athletics season may help cleanse the wounds we have all suffered as a fan base. Bring back the clear blue skies we haven’t seen in a long time. Here a few reasons why.
In football, we have a returning Heisman winner who seems to have improved immensely over the off-season. The offensive line has an old face as a new coach. A man known for turning offensive lines from blocks of swiss cheese into concrete walls. Under Mike Summers tutelage, the O-line should improve greatly. Let us not forget the Sirmon Coach Petrino delivered unto us. Peter Sirmon is by all accounts a bright mind and great teacher. At the very least, our defense should be able to get lined up before the snap.
Men’s basketball offers us maybe the deepest and most talented team Coach Pitino has had. Deng Adel looks to be the obvious leader and his talent and work ethic could make him a star. VJ King, by all accounts, appears to have put in major work and is ready to show why he was such a prized recruit. The incoming freshman class offers so much potential and has as its crown jewel Brian Bowen. An uber talented player who could become Coach Pitino’s first 1 and done. A run at the title is not out of the question with our team.
Women’s basketball is just as talented. Coach Walz has recruited insanely well. 5 stars litter the roster. On this team, the star of Walz World will likely be Asia Durr. Let us not forget Myeisha Hines-Allen who brings leadership and experience to a relatively young roster. Walz seems primed for a deep run in March.
Let’s not forget UofL still has Mallory Comerford returning to the Ralph Wright Natatorium to fight for another National Title. Arthur Albiero is one of the unsung coaches at UofL.
Last, but certainly not least, UofL baseball. Josh Stowers looks to cement himself as the leader and star of the 9. The team is replacing a ton of talent losing McKay, Hairston, Ellis, McClure and Henzman. They have their secret weapon, however, in Dan McDonnell. I don’t expect a gaudy record this year, but I expect the team will be in the NCAAs again.
I haven’t even mentioned our perennial powerhouse men’s soccer team, the up and coming women’s lacrosse team, men’s tennis, field hockey, the list is long and distinguished.
Yes, there are still bleak times ahead as many issues remain unresolved. I plead with you now fellow members of Cardinaldom, keep your resolve. The beginning of this new athletic season brings with it the hope of a bright new day. The red is on the rise again.
Thank you for reading my first ever Lamarvelous post. I’m Shawn Got Deng Barbour, your resident master of pun and positivity.