Think about a time long, long ago.
A time when Card fans dreamed of wonderment in college athletics but the dreams were always blurred and seemed fuzzy and not of this world. A time when basketball ruled supreme but was only a part of an unfulfilled desire that needed more, much more to make it seem like a complete vision. A time when ‘inferior’ and ‘wannabe’ seemed like a more appropriate description of our beloved Cardinal athletics.
A time when Card fans had a taste of ‘big-time’ football but the taste was like a drop of water to a thirsting desert traveller. A time when our university dwelt among the ‘second-tier’ of college athletics and seemed destined for a lifetime of struggle to escape from the mire of irrelevancy. A time when high school recruits looked upon the University of Louisville as a college alternative if the ‘big boys’ didn’t come calling.
A time when the annual athletic budget was smaller than a small-town holy-roller church. When Olympic sport (if they existed) coaches had to run their own fund-raiser to buy uniforms for the team. A time when student-athletes had to sell candy bars like high school students to pay for trips and summer training opportunities.
A time when three or four sports had to share one piece of real estate (sometimes off-campus) for games and practice. A time when volleyball, men’s and women’s basketball shared the same gym for practice and the volleyball team and women’s basketball played their games in the same gym. A time when Floyd Street was a dismal drive through abandoned warehouses and the ugliest silo farm in a large metropolitan city in America.
A time when Louisville played very few sports and if they did play a minor sport it was usually coached by someone from the football or basketball team or a part-timer from the community. A time when the University of Louisville dwelled in conferences found on page four or five of the Sports section.
A time when women’s sports were almost non-existent and received very little funding. When Title IX referred to a tome in the library. A time when athletic prowess took precedent over academics and grade point average was a hoped for afterthought.
A time when only basketball sniffed at national championships and the Cardinal trophy case for league titles contained only gold cups with basketballs on top. A time when very few fans attended games for other sports and even football gave away discounted tickets at the local convenient store. When fans did attend games they set on wooden bleachers or brought their own portable chair.
To many, especially younger fans that might seem like a time long, long ago. But to this aged Card fan that was only 20-years in the past. For it was 20-years ago that Tom Jurich arrived at our desolate sports campus and changed everything.
The same Tom Jurich that today is castigated, driven off and disrespected by those in power and powerful egos that want to have their way and call the shots.
Can we say that Tom Jurich saved the Louisville athletic program? A little more than a decade prior to his arrival it was suggested by some in charge that football should be scrapped and athletics deemphasized from it’s already sub-level standing. Have the descendants of that misguided group suddenly reappeared to lead us away from the Promised Land?
Tom Jurich has been the savior of athletics at the University of Louisville.
Let us, who have endured the journey down the long and winding road, stand strong against the arrogance of those who pretend to ‘know better’ how to run University of Louisville athletics.
We have put too much money and emotion into the ‘Louisville Awakening’ to turn back now.