COMMENTARY | With the news that University of Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has decided to forgo one more year of college football for the chance to be the top pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the speculation of what could have been for Louisville in 2014 will start.
The 2013 Louisville football season fell short of the loftiest of expectations because of a three-point debacle of a loss to Central Florida and the stigma of a nationally inferior American Athletic Conference schedule. Still, the 12-1 record and 36-9 Russell Athletic bowl win over Miami (Fla.) leaves some momentum for Louisville as the school heads for the dollar-greener pastures of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Of course, the future for Louisville won't include Bridgewater, whose legacy will nevertheless be one with lasting impact even though his full potential impact had he stayed another year will always remain the subject of conjecture.
Bowl Game Teddy
Last year's 33-23 Sugar Bowl win over Florida and 11-2 record marked the arrival of Bridgewater as a star and Louisville as a national contender, both of which instilled the Louisville 2013 season with even more significance. The anticipation for fulfilling that destiny fell short in 2013 because of one unfortunate loss in which Bridgewater could not help his team preserve a 21-point lead midway through the third quarter against Central Florida, despite completing 29 of 38 passes for 341 yards and two TDs.
But without that big-game win against Florida the year prior and the emblematic whack that Bridgewater withstood from Florida linebacker Jon Bostic, the 2012 season would have ended with a blemish that would have lingered into 2013.
The bowl win over Miami lacked the meaning of a more significant bowl had the Cardinals went undefeated and won their conference in 2013, but as a measuring stick for Louisville as the school ventures into the waters of the ACC, the convincing win and dominant performance by Bridgewater (35 of 45 for a career high 447 yards) most definitely was a big game for the program and a fitting swan song for Bridgewater and his legacy at Louisville.
Most of the career passing records that Chris Redman set for Louisville will remain intact because Bridgewater is leaving, but Bridgewater has still managed to notch his name in the Louisville record book.
Probably most telling of exactly the kind of QB Bridgewater became at Louisville would be his 68.4% completion percentage, which is the best in school history. Bridgewater may not have compiled more career yards or more career touchdowns, but his completion record is one that is likely to last a long time.
Bridgewater did set the single-season passing TD mark at Louisville (31) during his bowl game finale performance against Miami. That mark may not survive the test of time, but the legacy of Bridgewater will, even as he heads to the NFL and the ultimate conclusion of his football destiny.
Robb Hoff has worked as a freelance researcher for ESPN's production and news departments for more than five years. He posts his NFL draft predictions each year at footballnostradamus.com. Hoff is an avid follower of University of Louisville football and basketball and a longtime resident of the Greater Louisville area.
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