Louisville football: Players and fans have a clear divide

A Louisville Cardinals fan. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
A Louisville Cardinals fan. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The landscape around Louisville football is an odd one after Scott Satterfield spoke to the media publicly on Monday.

It is an odd time to be a fan of the Louisville football team for many. With just one week remaining in the 2020 season, players and fans seem to be clearly divided in thoughts surrounding the program.

Specifically, the two sides seem to be the most divided on Scott Satterfield‘s most recent comments from his press conference on Monday. It was the first time that Louisville’s second year head coach talked publicly to the media since he met with the University South Carolina regarding their head coaching position.

Fans were disappointed with the way things were handled by Scott Satterfield through the entire process of the coaching rumors centered around him.

Satterfield made his first public statement that he, while “flattered,” was not interested in pursuing any job opportunity at the time. Then, he interviewed with South Carolina just over a week later in a decision that left both Louisville players and fans curious and frustrated.

The two groups seemed to be on the same page. Players voiced concerns over Twitter in (now deleted) posts wondering what was happening with their locker room leader and if he would be around for much longer after interviewing with the university. Fans expressed the same sentiment. Both parties seemed to be agreeing.

Then, something happened on Monday that completely shifted the thought process of the two sides.

At Scott Satterfield’s press conference, fans seemed to take exception to the head coach’s comments after some questions from the media. One answer specifically seemed to rub some fans the wrong way.

From this, Satterfield suggests that coaches and players are different and that players do not have wives or children like coaches do. Then, he proceeds to say that players have to be “all in” and that players have to work hard to be all in while coaches have a career to consider.

It is tough to see the point that Satterfield is trying to make from this clip. He seems to be cramming a mixture of thoughts into his answer here which created some confusion amongst fans.

With that said, some fans and even former players took exception to this statement from Satterfield.

Smith, who is a decorated alumni and Lamar Jackson’s former favorite target, never played under Satterfield. However, his opinion holds a fair amount of weight as an alumni who played his football in some of Louisville football’s golden years.

He clearly took the comment in a similar ways that many fans did in that it was insensitive by Satterfield to say such things. Many fans thought that the players currently in Satterfield’s locker room would take similar offense to the comment in similar ways that Smith and other players did.

But, oddly, that did not happen. It was actually quite the opposite effect.


And there are more tweets than just these from the current players in the locker room. The players all came on to social media around similar times Monday night to express their support for Satterfield.

There is some thought that this sudden flood of social media posts was a tool from within the program to have the players speak out in favor of their coach.

It’s an interesting theory after the sudden change from confusion and some frustration from players just a few days ago to complete and undivided support.

It could also be the case that the players just genuinely like their coach and trust what he has said in the locker room over the past couple of days to shore up any confusion.

The fans, however, went from questioning Satterfield’s future in Louisville to seemingly wanting him to be gone as soon as possible. There was never that “feel good” make-right from Satterfield that was enough to please the fans.

Now there seems to be a divide between the fanbase and the players. That could be an ugly situation in itself with the two sides clashing against one another. The fans are looking for the best for the program that is near and dear to their hearts while the players want to play for someone who cares about them as more than players and is a positive presence for them on their journey as student-athletes.

This entire storyline brings up an intriguing question when it comes to fandom.

How should fans react when players support a coach they do not feel the same about?

It is difficult to say and I think that Louisville football fans are wrestling with that question right now. The fans want the program to succeed regardless of who is playing or coaching. If the players genuinely support Satterfield, who are fans to judge him?

In the same light, fans are entitled to their own opinions and especially in the social media age, they are able to have as educated of an opinion as ever.

So what is up with this whole divide? Why is it happening?

Obviously, fans are not a part of the team’s locker room and this is likely where the biggest change in the divisive opinions on Satterfield occurred. He is talking to his players every day trying to convince them he is committed to the program and winning with them. Fans have not gotten that same treatment.

Instead, Satterfield addresses the media publicly a couple of times a week for approximately 30 minutes and that is about the only real taste fans get of his personality or him explaining himself after such a wild situation. When things have gone this badly in the opportunities he has had in those public settings, it is a foregone conclusion that fans will be displeased.

The best overall answer to understanding the divide is that Satterfield has handled his public appearances very poorly. In a press conference on Monday that should have been a routine public relations cleanup, fans are now even more upset than they were before.

Meanwhile, it seems that Satterfield has likely done some nice damage control in the locker room to keep the players on board with the situation.

Both of these factors can be true.

He needs to be able to do both. Part of the job for Satterfield is speaking with the media and making fans and boosters happy. It seems he has made a fair chunk of them very upset. Adding to the fan disappointment is Bobby Petrino and Charlie Strong bolting for different jobs after successful head coaching tenures in Louisville has made fans sensitive to coaches being poached..  Satterfield’s handling of it struck a note with the Cardinals backers.

Satterfield may have gotten his players back on board. But there is still plenty of work to be done elsewhere.