2006-01-21

Louisville Coaches on a Limb


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Rick Pitino was interviewed on ESPN this morning in preparation for tonights tilt between the Cards and U Conn. The coach stated quite emphatically, and several times, that Louisville HAD to win tonight. "We MUST win this game!"

OK, it's not quite a guarantee but there's no "wiggle room" there. One has to wonder if he's being equally clear with his players, and if so, what will his parachute be when the Cards lose. Because, they will.

There's no shame in it. Louisville is a young team that has experienced the dual misfortunes of entering their inaugural Big East campaign with a fraction of the ability that they had during last year's Final Four run, and being massively over-ranked for much of this season. The Cards simply don't have the horses to topple one of the best teams in the country.

Meanwhile, over on the football field Louisville Coach Bobby Petrino was once again the subject of vague "leaving for another job" rumors shortly after the Cards' season ended. Later the rumors gained focus when the Oakland Raiders' top spot opened up. Petrino quickly squelched the talk but this could be more of a commitment to sanity than to Louisville.

Personally, I appreciate what Petrino has done here, but I won't be broken-hearted when he leaves. Two problems from the John L. Smith years have re-surfaced. First, Louisville is once again prone to falling short mentally and losing games they should win. Although they lost the Gator Bowl, Louisville played Va Tech tough and brought credit on themselves. But it's not hard to get up for a big Bowl game against a national power. Earlier in the season the Cards went to South Florida and stunk up the joint, not because USF was better, but because USF came ready to play when Louisville didn't. That's on the coach.

Second, as with Smith, Petrino is annually rumored to be moving on to any glamorous coaching position that comes available. Granted, you can't always control what people say. However, there are a number of good coaches out there but only a handful of names repeatedly come up.

As far as I'm concerned, Petrino can move on and make room for someone willing to keep both eyes on Louisville.

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