Over the past ten days the Louisville Football program has done these things.
A week ago they decided to sweeten their defensive coordinators contract, after Todd Grantham spurned the Oakland Raiders following a season in Top Five of overall defense, the Cardinals decided to reward him. The deal makes him one of the highest paid coordinators in college athletics, worth upwards of 1.4 million per year.
Will Muschamp, newly hired at Auburn, will be the highest paid Defensive Coordinator in 2015, with a contract coming in at 1.8 million. Grantham’s contract could possibly have him making more money then that guy that every school with an opening has wanted to hire the last five years – Alabama Defensive Coordinator Kirby Smart.
If money truly speaks, these actions are louder than a freight train.
A few days later, they did what few teams wanted to do, they sought out and eventually signed DeVonte Fields.
On the field, the signing makes perfect sense for Louisville. Fields is a exceptional defensive playmaker, and in his first (and only) season at TCU he was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He’s a future pro, according to nearly everyone. Dig a little deeper though, and you’ll find why teams we’re so skeptical of him. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Fields was arrested and charged with misdemeanor assault after in July incident that involved his ex-girlfriend. The case is still being reviewed, but on Wednesday, Bobby Petrino said he felt good about the eventual outcome. Petrino also said that he believed in second chances, what he may have meant to say though, is that he believes in second chances when it comes to talented prospects like Fields. Louisville and Petrino we’ll take a PR hit for this, they knew it, but they deemed the risk necessary to take because of the potential outcome for Fields on game day.
In a way Louisville has doubled-down on hiring Bobby Petrino last season. They created the same type of PR hit but lifted expectations of fans, and increased the pressure to deliver. To make a confusing storyline into one easy sentence, Louisville essentially hired Bobby Petrino last season because they believed the reward outweighed the risk. It’s almost like take two, here and now.
Suddenly Louisville has shown that they can compete with the beastly SEC in recruiting, particularly in the spot that the conference has became known for – defense. Yesterday Louisville fended off teams like Florida, Auburn, Ohio State and Georgia for multiple defensive players. They ended up signing one of the best classes in school history, with a second year Head Coach in a situation that is still very fluid. That’s what happens when you are an elite defense, you get elite players and create those fresh new elite expectations.
Last season, Louisville’s defensive looked, in a word, ‘exceptional’. Despite that, they also had some serious miscues. Most notably the games against Florida State, Notre Dame, Kentucky, and Georgia. Yes, Florida State was Florida State, but it appeared that few adjustments were made as the Noles cruised to over 350 yards of total offense….in the second half. Against an underwhelming Kentucky Wildcat team, Louisville gave up 40 points and over 150 yards on the ground. Not terrible, but Louisville can no longer settle for that, not when they are taking PR risk and playing a defensive coordinator elite money. Against Notre Dame and Georgia the angles seemed off and some bad tackling habits started to show on the field.
As someone who has followed Louisville Football for so long, this is all so very weird to me. It’s typical to be satisfied with a team, with a unit for Louisville football that just gives you a ‘chance’. Now that satisfaction is no longer acceptable.
Auburn fans will expect its defense to be as stout as any in college football very soon, probably too soon. Think Alabama fans would even dream that they’ll have a game where they give up more than 35 points next season? Forget about it. Louisville fans and Louisville football have now created these expectations for themselves. This is what happens when you climb your way into elite tiers of college football. Even more so, this is what happens when you take a few questionable risks with perhaps character flawed transfers – you have to deliver and you have to deliver in a big way. This can be exciting time for Louisville fans, it appears that everyone surrounding the program believes they can create an elite defense in 2015 and beyond. However, soon it will time to well, it’ll start against a five star quarterback and an SEC blue blood right off the bat in 2015.
Welcome to the big leagues, Louisville.
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