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The Decline off Louisville Football

Patrick O'RourkeContributor IJuly 22, 2009

Jan. 3, 2007, the University of Louisville Cardinals football team had just won the Orange Bowl. 

The program was booming. 

They currently had the second-longest home winning streak, and they were 41-9 under Bobby Petrino.  Not to mention his high-powered offense was putting up unbelievable numbers. They were getting top recruits and had their games broadcast on ESPN nearly every week.  The program was on the verge of national dominance.

Less than a week later, Petrino packs his stuff and heads to Atlanta.  As a result, Louisville puts their fifth-ranked football team in the hands of an unknown coach from Tulsa named Steve Kragthorpe. 

Most Louisville fans were furious at the loss of Petrino, but it didn’t take long for them to get excited about Kragthorpe. 

Now let’s fast forward to the start of the 2007 season. 

The Cardinals squeak by a couple of small schools before an unthinkable loss to their rival, Kentucky.  That was when it started. That was when Louisville Football started to go down the toilet.  Because of the next week's loss to Syracuse, which snapped the home winning streak, the Cardinals fell out of the top 25 rankings.

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Louisville went on to go 6-6 that year. 

The next year, Kragthorpe led the Cardinals to a 5-7 record while being 1-6 in the Big East.  Not to mention losing to both Kentucky and Syracuse again! 

Kragthorpe's current coach staff bears no resemblance to his original staff.  He got rid of hometown hero and offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm.  Now, the offense will be taken over by Kragthorpe himself. 

Coming into the 2009 season, the Cardinals have two set times for their games, none televised by ESPN. 

Moreover, their starting quarterback situation is still unsettled.

Most of Petrino’s recruits have graduated, and others have transferred. So there is no more mooching of that talent.  Kragthorpe keeps trying to fix his problem by getting junior college guys and two-star recruits.  I can’t see him getting better recruits without winning, and I can’t see him winning with his current roster.

I would love to see the Cardinals have a plus-.500 record and get to a bowl game, but looking at their schedule, I would give them three to four wins—at best.  

Kragthorpe has to accomplish something completely unexpected this year to keep his job.  I do like the guy, but if he loses to in-state rival UK then Syracuse for the third straight year, I don’t see how Athletic Director Tom Jurich can justify Steve Kragthorpe as head coach.