With fall camp underway, the season will be starting before we know it. So here is one of those random things fans do to bide their time until the season kicks off; ranking the Cards’ games in order of difficulty. Record from previous season in parenthesis.
1. @Rutgers (9-4) Every Cardinal fan remembers that night when Will Gay jumped off sides and gave RU their second chance to beat the Cards. The Scarlet Knights return 13 starters including Big East co-Defensive Player of the Year Khaseem Greene. The last game of the season for UofL will be tough one under the lights on ESPN’s Thursday night showcase.
2. North Carolina (7-6) The Tar Heels can’t go to a bowl game this year, but that won’t stop ACC stand-outs QB Bryn Renner and RB Giovanni Bernard from trying to ruin other team’s seasons. Their offensive has the fire-power to put up points under new Head Coach Larry Fedora, but the UNC defense has some holes.
3. South Florida (5-7) The Cards and Bulls turned the table on each other the past two seasons as each team won on the other’s home field for the first time in series history. QB B.J. Daniels is back with a dangerous WR in Sterling Griffin, but can the Bulls not self-destruct in the second half of the season?
4. @Pittsburgh (6-7) A team UofL hasn’t beaten in four years. The Cards need to give the Panthers a little payback after they stunned UofL at home, effectively keeping them from going to the Orange Bowl. Pitt returns 14 starters, including QB Tino Sunseri and RB Ray Graham, who is still recovering from ACL surgery.
5. Cincinnati (10-3) Another program that the Cards have gone 0-4 against over the last four seasons. The Bearcats lost huge offensive pieces in Zach Callaros and Isiah Pead, and only return 11 starters. However, that doesn’t mean UC won’t be dangerous, as 7 of the returnees are on defense.
6. @FIU (8-5) All-Everything WR T.Y. Hilton is gone, but the Golden Panthers have 17 starters coming back, including stud RB Kedrick Rhodes. With FIU welcoming the Cards into their 18,000-seat stadium, it will likely be their “super bowl”, so UofL must stay focused if they want the ‘W’.
7. @Southern Miss (12-2) They lost their record-setting QB Austin Davis and only return 10 starters. Playing in Hattiesburg has been tough for UofL, but recently the Cards have had success there and in the series overall, winning 5 straight.
8. @Syracuse (5-7) The Orange have 12 starters coming back for a team that has lost 5 straight games to end their season. It’s on the road, but that’s the only real obstacle.
9. Kentucky (5-7) The Cats are hurting, plain and simple. They lost their two best defensive players off a defense that was average and have only 3 returning starters back to an offense that ranked 118th in total offense.
10. UConn (5-7) Another team with an offense that struggles. The Huskies have 8 starters back on a defense that could stop the run, but couldn’t stop the pass.
11. Temple (9-4) The Owls won 9 games last year, but that was in the MAC. The Big East isn;t a bunch of world beaters, but it’s a lot tougher than the MAC.
12. Missouri State (2-9) The Bears are in the FCS and had a losing record, enough said.
On this edition of LSL, the guys discuss the latest on the direction of Big East football with Associate Big East Commissioner Nick Carparelli and ESPN.com’s Andrea Adelson. Insidetheville.com’s Mike Hughes updates us with UofL basketball recruiting targets
Topics with Nick and Andrea include:
-Where the Big East champion fits in with the new playoff
-Why the Big East hasn’t explained their comprehensive plan-yet
-What the league needs to do to get positive publicity and maximize revenue
-How many bowl game tie-ins the Big East will have
-What players are due for a break-out year on the gridiron
-The latest on the ITV change and transition
-Updates on the latest UofL hoops recruiting targets
-Celebrating the fact that UK and their fans won’t be disgracing Freedom Hall with their presence and thoughts on scheduling a game at Freedom Hall for old-time’s sake
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE
*iPod/iPhone users, or if you have trouble accessing it, listen below:
With WDRB.com’s Eric Crawford, the guys discuss:
-Big East media day
-The negative perception of the league
-The opening of fall camp
-The uphill recruiting battle that Strong and Co. faces
With Ellis Myles:
-The success of his Louisville Magic AAU squad
-The development of Quentin Snider
-How Pitino developed him as a player and a person
The guys also touch on the Trinity kids spurning UofL, the NBA in Louisville, and the state of UofL football recruiting.
LISTEN TO THE PODCAST HERE
*iPod/iPad users, or if you have any trouble accessing it, listen below:
In lieu of all the negativity regarding the Big East this week, word came out if (and likely when) the ESPN re-negotiating window expires, NBC could pay big bucks to the Big East football schools and even more for those in the league that play both hoops and football.
Sources suggest that if NBC, which is desperate for sports inventory, signs a TV contract with the conference, it would be willing to pay the Big East football teams $10 milllion apiece and throw in an additional $4 million for the 16 basketball schools. One of the network’s ideas may be to run a full day of Big East football, along with Notre Dame home games, from noon to midnight Saturdays on either NBC or its still-growing cable channel.
That would be a huge step in the right direction for a forgotten league.
Wayne Blackshear’s breakout performance against Kentucky in the Final Four continues to gain national steam ahead for the 2012-13 season. He’s listed among ten players that are likely to be difference makers for their respective teams. Here’s the blurb from Sports Illustrated….
Wayne Blackshear, Louisville:Blackshear is one of the guys that everyone is expecting to have a big year in 2012-13. After battling a shoulder injury for much of his freshman campaign, the former top 30 recruit rebounded and put together a couple of impressive performances once he returned — 13 points in his debut against West Virginia, nine points in 14 minutes in the Final Four against Kentucky. Blackshear could end up being the difference between Louisville having a good year and Louisville being a national title favorite. The Cardinals are tough defensively, they have perimeter playmakers (Peyton Siva, Russ Smith, Luke Hancock) and they have talent and size up front (Gorgui Dieng, Chane Behanan, Montrezl Harrell). What they don’t have is a consistent, big-time scorer on the perimeter, a guy that can ensure the floor is spread with his ability to shoot. That’s Blackshear when he’s at his best.
In a week of bad football recruiting news, U of L picked up a late addition for the 2012 class when it was announced former Dixie Heights (in Fort Mitchell, KY) quarterback and Auburn commit Zeke Pike would transfer to Louisville, but as a tight end rather than QB.
Former Auburn QB Zeke Pike transfers to Louisville to play TEauburn.247sports.com/Article/Zeke-P…
— Football Rumor Mill (@fbrumormill) August 3, 2012
Pike was a 4-star (or high 3-star, depending on which rankings you look at) player and US Army All-American, and at 6-6, 225 lbs, is a big kid, but a balanced athlete who can is more than capable of playing the tight end position. However, this is a move that Cards fans will and should question, and it has nothing to do with his talent. Pike did not choose to transfer to Louisville out of the blue, but did so after Auburn Head Coach Gene Chizik kicked him off the team. This was unfortunately not his first off-the-field issue.
As a recruit, Pike came with red flags. As reported by ESPN.com’s Damon Sayles, Pike was suspended his first game of his senior year after being ejected in a playoff game his junior year. He was then suspended his senior year for a playoff game for a “violation of team rules,” and had to postpone his announcement to play in the Army All-American game nearly a month due to the suspension. He also caused a bit of a controversy on Twitter, where he was apparently running his mouth to some Alabama fans. Per Sayles, Pike wanted to use the Army game as an opportunity to right the wrongs in his life and prove to his doubters that he was maturing. Yet, his off-the-field troubles continued.
He enrolled as a freshman in January at Auburn, but it did not take long for Pike to get into trouble as Chizik sent him home after he was arrested for public intoxication earlier this summer. Now, it appears that Chizik decided the young man was a liability and too much of a risk to take on. Therefore, he sent him packing for good, and the player has now landed in Louisville.
As a Louisville fan, this sits a bit uneasy with me. The program has taken on troubled players before, including linebackers Nate Harris, Willie Williams, and James Bryant. Harris was a success story, Bryant did not do much of anything on or off the field, and Williams was an absolute disaster, causing embarrassment to the school, Tom Jurich (who vouched for him), and especially himself. Charlie Strong has not shyed away from taking in troubled players at Louisville, either. In his first year as head coach, Strong had planned on bringing Demar Dorsey (but is his Twitter account REALLY his?), a one-time Michigan recruit (who was not accepted there) and high school All-American defensive back who had previously been in big trouble with the law. He never did make it to campus, but it seemed Coach Strong was willing to take a risk on him. He was also willing to take a risk on QB Zach Mettenberger, who had allegedly groped a girl at a bar and had plead guilty to sexual battery. Mettenberger eventually went on to LSU.
Now, I am not one to question Charlie Strong (I pity the man who ever does), and if anyone can keep a recruit in line, it is him. Yet, this is a young man who has proven multiple times that he has maturity and attitude issues that seem very Derrick Caracter-ish. We are extremely thin at tight end right now, and Pike definitely has the size and athletic ability to be a great tight end (and he and Gerald Christian could be a deadly tight end combo), but can he keep his head on straight? If he did not respect Gene Chizik’s rules, what makes anyone think he will respect Charlie Strong’s? Strong will no doubt keep him on a VERY short leash, but with a team with such high aspirations this season (and next), why take a chance with an off-the-field risk that could prove a distraction?
Don’t get me wrong, I am all for people getting second chances, but I don’t like the idea of Pike being “punished” by going to Louisville to play on scholarship with Teddy Bridgewater throwing passes to him. I am of the crowd that believes when a college athlete screws up, he takes the Cam Newton route (Mettenberger also did this) and face a little humility while earning his way back by playing JUCO for a year or two or even 1-AA ball. However, I have also never met Zeke Pike and know nothing about him outside of what I have read. Perhaps I should not be so judgmental. He is, after all, an 18-year old, and like many 18-year olds, he has done things that are incredibly dumb. I hope he gets his head straight, works hard, and becomes a better man and football player after being here. I hope he proves pessimists like me wrong. One of his idols is Tim Tebow, the ultimate boy scout, so maybe he will inspire Pike to get his act together. If Coach Strong believes he is worthy of another chance, I am not going to boo this move, not at all. For now, though, it is just something that sits a little uneasy with me.
When it rains, it pours. Still fresh off of losing Ryan White and Jason Hatcher due to reasons that include conference affiliation concerns, it now appears the dominoes are beginning to fall in the Nevin Shapiro scandal, and U of L recruiting coordinator Clint Hurtt may be the next domino to fall. One coach named in Charles Robinson’s Nevin Shapiro report, University of Florida recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach Aubrey Hill announced his resignation today. According to Florida Head Coach Will Muschamp, Hill resigned for “personal reasons that have nothing to do with the University of Florida.” Translation: he was feeling the heat from the Shapiro investigation and did not want it to rub off on Florida. Hill, while well connected with Shapiro, was not nearly as close with him as was Clint Hurtt, an unsettling fact for Louisville fans.
This has been an elephant in the room for some time, now. After the Robinson story was released and Hurtt was mentioned, Louisville fans feared his involvement with Shapiro would eventually come to bite us, but hoped for the best. That may have been wishful thinking. Hurtt was VERY involved with Shapiro, who mentioned that Hurtt was ”a really good friend of mine.” According to Robinson’s report, Shapiro gave Hurtt an interest-free loan of $5,000 (half of which was in cash), paid for Hurtt to bring recruits to dinner at an expensive Miami Beach restaurant, and on one occasion, allowed Hurtt to bring recruits to his mansion so the booster could help in “recruiting” them. Shapiro’s pitch apparently involved showing them a built-in closet that featured game worn college and NFL jerseys of Miami greats, as well as taking them on a drive in his $200,000 Mercedes. That is what is reported, but given how sleazy Shapiro is, God only knows what else he could have done to “recruit” these players.
One very important thing to note is that what Hurtt did with Shapiro has absolutely NOTHING to do with the University of Louisville. Not a thing. Louisville is not under the microscope here, Hurtt is, and there is nothing to suggest he has been using the same antics here. Had he been doing anything SLIGHTLY resembling what he did at Miami, I seriously doubt Strong would keep him anywhere near the program. However, what he did at Miami was bound to catch up to him eventually at Louisville, and Bruce Feldman is very good at what he does, so do not just dismiss his opinion as nonsense. Hurtt was ESPN’s national recruiting coordinator of the year in 2010 and has been instrumental in bringing top-tier recruits to Louisville, including QB Teddy Bridgewater. His loss would definitely hurt (no pun intended), and if Hill has resigned at Florida, then Hurtt is definitely skating on extremely thin ice at Louisville.
This could also be a lose-lose type situation for Louisville. If the rulings come down hard on Miami and new information comes out about Hurtt, he could be forced to resign just like Aubrey Hill did. Then Louisville loses one of its brightest young football minds and a top-flight recruiter. On the flip side, if it comes down to a choice by Charlie Strong and Tom Jurich and they keep him (since this is his first misstep), it could provide negative publicity for the school. On top of all that, it could lead to an even more slippery slope when it comes to recruiting. Hurtt was the point-man on several big-time players that are currently committed to Louisville. There’s already rumors floating that Florida has lost at least one commitment in the wake of Hill’s resignation, so expect similar fall-out if Hurtt is forced to leave. Here’s the bottom line: this isn’t good. Like, at all. But it’s also a bit too early to jump to any conclusions. This could end up a scenario where perhaps the program and Hurtt reach a compromise of some sort and maybe he just takes a suspension. That at least gives him a viable punishment while still being able to keep his job. Like I said earlier, this is his first offense and sports in general are chalked full of people that make mistakes and are allowed atone for their wrong-doing. We’ll keep an eye on the story as it develops but one thing is for certain: this thing is far from over and Louisville and Clint Hurtt will find out their fate soon enough.
Ryan White spurned UofL for Vanderbilt and the SEC
We talked a great deal about this on our radio program last night and it simply can’t be ignored any longer. I think most of us thought that if Louisville found itself stuck in the Big East down the road that eventually negative recruiting would catch up with them. Guys would be scared to play for a team that isn’t afforded a legitimate shot at a major 6 Bowl Game, let alone the Playoff Final Four. But few of us saw those negative effects coming and hitting us as quickly as they have. Just in the last week alone the Cards have lost two 4-star players from the city of Louisville to programs in major conferences (SEC and Pac-12, respectively). Both players cited their school’s conference affiliation as major components in their decisions. The fact of the matter is, the future is here. Right now. Coaches from the SEC, Big Ten and Big 12 will continue to use their leverage of being part of the national championship scene as a clear-cut advantage over schools like Louisville that play in a watered down, inferior league. They’ll tell recruits how they won’t have a shot at playing on ESPN (most likely) or that they’ll never be able to compete in the Orange, Sugar, Fiesta, or Playoff Bowl games. And as of right now, they’d be telling the truth. The Big East currently has no TV deal in place, no commissioner and one of the schools they’re adding next year just got slapped with major NCAA sanctions. Where’s the momentum that the conference promised? Frankly, it simply doesn’t exist. In fact, the league is caught in a swirling vortex that seems to be grabbing and pulling each and every program toward the depths of mediocrity. The fact that Louisville has remained such a recruiting force down south and appears poised to explode on the national scene is actually quite an amazing phenomena when you really stop to think about it. They’ve been able to sustain a positive rep on the recruiting trail (at least up until now) and win games while teetering on the brink of a sinking conference ship. The problem is, how long until things catch up with them? As mentioned earlier, it appears like it could be happening sooner than later, and that’s a scary thought.
ESPN’s Big East blogger Andrea Adelson has taken a look at the theme of negative recruiting for Louisville and she wrote about it last night on her site. Here’s an excerpt and you can read the entire thing here.
Strong was then asked how much he has to deal with questions about the Big East on the recruiting trail.
“Yes, every kid is asking that question,” Strong said. “You’re getting it because whoever your competition is … they want that answer.”
So essentially schools competing against Louisville for prized recruits are putting doubts in the kids’ minds about the stability of the Big East, and whether Louisville has lost its chance at getting into the Big 12.
I do not think it is a coincidence that Strong made his remarks just one day after losing top recruit Ryan White, a four-star cornerback from Louisville. White had committed to the Cardinals this year, but changed his mind and made a commitment to Vanderbilt. It is unclear whether changes to the Big East impacted his decision. White did not return calls from ESPN Recruiting Nation.
But last month, Louisville lost out on another recruit from its backyard, four-star defensive end Jason Hatcher — who plays with White at Trinity High. Hatcher made a commitment to USC, and said afterward that the Big East did play a role in his decision. According to WDRB.com, Hatcher said the conference situation concerned him, “a little bit, honestly, with the Big East falling apart the way it is.”
“That wasn’t the main reason,” Hatcher said. “I’m not going to say it was a big reason, because I believe you can have success at any school at any conference. But the Big East, that was kind of a small concern, being that after the next couple of years they might not even be a BCS contender.”
The 2012-13 non-conference slate figures to be the toughest of Pitino’s tenure at UofL. As of today, here’s how the Cards’ non-schedule looks (other games will be added throughout the summer). *Rankings are from ESPN.com’s pre-season poll.
Neutral/Away Games: Battle 4 Atlantis (Nov. 22-24) Northern Iowa; Nov. 23 #24 Missouri or Stanford; Nov. 24 #15 Duke/#14 Memphis/#25 Minnesota/VCU; Dec.4 @Charleston; Dec. 15 @#14 Memphis; Dec. 22 Western Kentucky in Nashville.
Home Games: Nov. 15 Samford; Dec. 1 Illinois State; Dec. 8 UM-Kansas City; Dec. 19 FIU; Dec. 29 #3 Kentucky