Louisville football: Why coaching continuity will be vital to year two success

After a successful year one under Scott Satterfield, Louisville football can keep the ball rolling by holding onto the rest of the coaching staff.

Louisville football still has a postseason game to get to, but in college football, it’s hardly too early to start looking ahead to next season.

Though it’s unlikely that the Cards would lose any of their assistants to current head coaching vacancies, the Louisville coaching staff would be lucky to remain completely intact.

In 2019, fans grew to love the new coaching staff, and by all accounts, the staff loves it in The Ville. But bear in mind that these are men still working to build their careers. Every assistant has a family to feed and aspirations that they are working towards, and most of the time that means that Louisville is not anywhere near their final destination.

With that said, keeping Louisville’s current staff in place with little-to-no turnover would be huge entering the 2020 season.

Building culture

“Culture” talk can become redundant when addressing the current state of a program, but Louisville football is a perfect example of why building a culture, a brand, and positive energy around your team is everything.

In 2019 alone, Louisville football lost 22 players to transfer including the likes of 2019 All-SEC linebacker Jon Greenard, key edge rusher Jarrett Jackson, powerful running backs Dae Williams and Colin Wilson, and current Florida State back-up QB Jordan Travis.

The Cards also redshirted 10 of their true freshmen and had two instant-impact freshmen recruits who did not qualify in 2019.

When you add up what the Cards had to work with, there was far less talent and depth on the 2019 squad than in 2018. After losing 11 seniors and 22 transfers, the Cards supplemented that with true freshman Evan Conley and transfers Isaiah Hayes, Monty Montgomery, Justin Ford, TJ McCoy, and TJ Holl. That’s it.

What the Louisville coaching staff did this season was not only unexpected, but it was unprecedented, and it all started with culture.

Those players from the 2018 team didn’t magically get way better, smarter, or more athletic over the course of the last year. They just started believing in themselves. They believed in each other, they trusted their coaches, and they became a team with a family-like culture.

Maintaining excellence

Which leads to a conversation about next season. If Louisville football wants to keep the ball rolling in 2020, perhaps the most important factor of all will be maintaining consistency and continuity within the coaching staff.

Louisville was awesome this year, but success is fleeting. Just as failure was not fatal in 2018, success was not final for Louisville in 2016. When things went wrong in the past, they tended to go off the rails for the Cardinals.

Take the loss of former defensive coordinator Todd Grantham for example. The Cards fielded some of their most successful defenses ever in 2015 and 2016, but after parting ways with the current Florida Gators defensive play-caller, Louisville went from good to bad to worse in a hurry.

Cards fans saw the product of bad recruiting, poor coaching, and constant coaching turnover on the defensive side of the ball in 2019.

The players ultimately are the deciding factor on the field, but the men making the big bucks charged with orchestrating the inner workings and behind the scenes madness are oftentimes the ones responsible for the successes and failures of a team.

The Cards currently have two of the best young minds in the sport on the sideline and the press box in Cort Dennison and Bryan Brown. Dennison is considered one of the best recruiters in the country and was named twice to 247 Sports’ 30-under-30 coaching list. Brown is only a couple years ahead of Dennison and had worked his way up the ranks into a co-defensive coordinator position.

On offense, the Cards compiled a fantastic group of like-minded individuals in Dwayne Ledford, Norval McKenzie, Frank Ponce, and Gunter Brewer. Among that group, Ledford stands out as one of the most valued leaders. Ledford was considered to be one of the best offensive line coaches in the country during his stint at NC State, and since moving into the offensive coordinator position with the Cards, he has completely turned the line and offense as a whole around.

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Overall, Louisville is packed with extremely talented, highly sought-after, award-winning coaches. For guys like Ledford, Brown, and Dennison in particular, there appear to be big-time opportunities in their future.

Keeping Louisville’s staff together is key. Though pieces will come and go, having the same leaders in team meeting rooms and daily on the field only helps to grow continuity and maintain close bonds.

If the Cards can enter the 2020 season with little-to-no turnover, another solid season of growth could be in the works.

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