All of us have seen the Top 5 lists that exclude Lamar Jackson. Whether it be Top 5 College Players or Top 5 Quarterbacks. We have also seen the preseason rankings which have UofL as high as 14 and as low as 17. Many of us fans feel the team as a whole. and Lamar in particular, are being disrespected.
There are obvious flaws we saw with the team at the end of last year. An offensive line that regressed badly. A defense that suddenly couldn’t stop the run or the big pass play. Lamar Jackson looking quite human with inaccurate throws, bad decisions on the read option, and bad decisions in general.
However, I think this disrespect may be more about the fact the University of Louisville football program is a threat to the old guard. The need to put our Heisman winner and upcoming team down is due more to the first half of our season and the fact we were so close to being a playoff team. UofL, a commuter school, a city school is a threat to the established college football order.
The team and Lamar gave ammunition to the doubters with a floundering finish, but even before the finish guys like Booger McFarland scoffed at our program and our QB. Our team was purposely made out to be a cute little distraction from the heavyweights like FSU, Alabama, Clemson, Ohio St, Michigan, and the rest of the establishment. These college football folks didn’t want to see this upstart program get a seat at their table.
Now, it has carried over to this year. Various media know-it-alls are espousing their belief UofL will be beaten by a Clemson team with new starters at nearly every skill position on offense, an FSU team that we destroyed, and even an NC State team we throttled. It seems as though they want to forget what the team did to FSU (yes they have Derwin James back, but it’s essentially the same team) and how it duked it out with the eventual National Champ on their home field.
Talking heads want to believe that, despite having a reigning Heisman winner, UofL will be an average team. Their main reasoning seems to be their belief the offensive line won’t be improved and defensive depth in the front seven is lacking.
However, these sports media personalities intentionally fail to realize upgrades have been made to the offensive line. It started with getting the guru himself Mike Summers to coach them. Then came the influx of 4 star talent which will surely help improve this position.
As far as the defensive front is concerned, our starters in Hearns, Richardson, Bailey, and Young are excellent. Behind them is a lot of inexperience. The is talent there though. To assume, as it seems many are, that they won’t step up, is misguided. We all know what they say about assuming.
So called college football “experts” are especially fearful of Lamar which is why I believe he has gotten so much criticism (some deserved) and little praise this offseason. To them, it’s a fait accompli that he will be worse this year because defensive coordinators now have his number. They don’t want to take into account the fact he worked his tail off this offseason or that Bobby Petrino is his coach, saw his flaws, and worked with him to correct them. Also, Coach Petrino likely has made tweaks to the offense to counteract what defenses may do. Yet, the media chooses to forget this.
I’m not saying Lamar will repeat as a Heisman winner. It’s notoriously difficult to do as it has only happened once. However, to act as if he’s going to regress terribly and not improve one iota is ridiculous. I think it is just a comforting thought for these media types. They fear if he has gotten better, a basketball school like UofL will crash the playoff party. We saw this last year. We have seen it before.
This blatant disrespect should be worn as a badge of honor by Lamar, the team, and we fans. It is born of fear. UofL is on the rise and the establishment hates it.
Tearing the team and it’s leader down is the only way the blue blood loving analysts can cope. They seek to control our team’s destiny by controlling the perception of the team to the nation. They’ve done this many times before. None of us have forgotten Kirk Herbstreit and his bashing of UofL before the Sugar Bowl.
To me, this is a sign we are ascending. Their fear, in essence, is the ultimate sign of respect. Media members seek to stop our arrival as a national power, but what they fail to realize is we have already arrived.