Monday at his weekly news conference, University of Louisville Head Football Charlie Strong said “We will never ever apologize for a win” when questioned about the team’s performance against expectations of national observers to deliver a blowout. It wasn’t just the national pundits that wanted the Cardinals to destroy the Scarlet Knights, the fans wanted it as well. The reason for the disappointment? The chances for a BCS National Championship appearance. Regardless of these expectations, at the end of the night, it was a quality win against a good opponent in a great atmosphere. What I saw was a team that was solid on both sides of the field. I saw a team demonstrate that they could overcome mistakes. I saw a complete and capable football team.
As a coach and athlete, I agree whole heatedly with Coach Strong. It is about “us” – the team. As a coach and team you set goals both long and short-term. You focus on the things you can manage and control. The goals set by the coaching staff for this team may be something like this: Win all non-conference games. Win the AAC. Earn a BCS appearance. Goals for each game are different as you might try to focus on different areas but they might be: Win the turnover game, control the clock, eliminate big plays on defense, control the line of scrimmage on offense. Pick any of these goals and we have met them or are on target to attain them. None of these however include – play to get a shot at a National Championship.
A BCS National Championship birth is not something the Louisville Cardinal coaching staff, players, or even Jurich The Great can control. Even The Pipe himself is powerless against “the system”. It’s the BCS system that we are fighting. If you want to be disappointed, be so at what the NCAA has set up to determine who plays who in the post season and the significance of those games and who is crowned National Champion. It has never been a true best of the best competition. Its a popularity contest. I’ll quote one of my favorite street sayings, “Don’t hate the player, hate the game”. The BCS, the schedule, rankings, and votes are all out of the control of the Louisville Cardinal Football team. What they can control is how they play each and every game. Without regurgitating stats that most fans already know I’ll simply state that, to this point, we are one of if not THE BEST football team in the country.
What Coach Strong said in that one statement says so much more to us. He is saying we are a good team playing good football. He is saying sit back and enjoy it. He is saying stop worrying about the national consensus and just focus on us. ”It’s about us” Coach Strong said. It’s about our school, our players, and our team. That’s all that should matter. Louisville First! So this Friday night, and for the remainder of the season, let go of what we can’t control and focus on what we can.
What we can control: Players, coaches and fans can focus on how they prepare. For coaches its scouting UCF, for players its learning new formations and plays, and for fans it’s getting down to PJCS early and WEAR RED!!! We as fans can control not only if we cheer but how loud and how long. Get to your seat and stand! Stand the whole game! And don’t just cheer, howl!!! Make that stadium shake with your yells of support. DESTROY UCF!!!!
Lastly, in regards to the RED OUT, I want to honor our very own Red Bird (featured below), Gary Payton, a cardinal fan that faithfully paints himself before games and screams louder that the entire sections of 233 and 234 combined. I want to encourage as many fans as possible to paint themselves up like the Redbird. Fill the stadium with fans that, as the song Radioactive says, “are painted red to fit right in”! There is a video link below to help you!