The University of Louisville is in a bit of an unprecedented situation beginning 2014. New Coach, New Conference, New Quarterback.
I thought it might make sense to go back to 1998 when John L. Smith took over and measure the results out to gain some perspective for how the Football program has dealt with 1st year situations. Never before has the program had to deal with so much change, but we might be able to learn something from the past in order to measure expectations for 2014.
1998 -John L. Smith
In 1998, the Cards 1st four games of the year the Cards were 2-2 coming off a 1-10 season in 1997. The opening game vs. Kentucky that opened Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was a blitzkrieg of Touchdowns from Tim Couch and Kentucky and the Cats won 68-34. The very next week Louisville traveled to Utah and were roughed up 45-22……and John L. Smith made his famous ‘rip off the rear view mirror speech’.
The next 2 games Louisville completely rebounded and took down Illinois 35-9, and then a week later Boston College 52-28.
Eventually the Cards would turn in a 7-5 season, reversing a 1-10 season from a year prior and achieving the 1st bowl appearance since the 1993 Liberty Bowl when the Cards fell to Marshall in the Motor City Bowl. The Bowl steak would last through the 2006 season.
John L. Smith had two 7-5 seasons in 1998 & 1999 and had to replace Louisville’s career passer of Chris Redman in 2000. The new starter was Dave Ragone. To start the Cards beat Kentucky in an overtime thriller at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium 40-34, and then shutout Grambling 52-0.
Things took a step back when Louisville traveled to Florida State and suffered the most recent shutout 31-0, but Louisville rebounded and beat UCONN 41-22. Louisville started 3-1 to start the Dave Ragone era.
The Cards would go on to finish 9-3 with a loss in the Liberty Bowl to Colorado State.
2003-Bobby Petrino & Stefan LeFors
The Bobby Petrino & Stefan LeFors era began fantastic with the Cards starting 4-0 with wins over Kentucky, Syracuse, UTEP, and Temple coming a 7-6 season in 2002.
2003 had heartbreaking losses to USF & TCU and a headscratcher to Memphis a week before JetGate with Auburn and Petrino.
In the end, Louisville finished 2003 with a 9-4 and a loss in the GMAC Bowl to Ben Rothlisberger’s Miami (OH).
2005-Big East & Brian Brohm
The 1st year in the Big East was a bit of an adjustment coming off of a 11-1 season. But the Cards did start 3-1 with wins over Kentucky, Oregon State, and Florida Atlantic. The loss was a really disappointing game at South Florida in one of the few blowouts of the Bobby Petrino era where the Cards couldn’t get anything going in Tampa and fell 45-14.
Louisville would finish 9-3 with a loss in the 2006 Gator Bowl to Virginia Tech.
Coming off an Orange Bowl victory over Wake Forest and returning a lot of elements from a 12-1 team, Steve Kragthorpe stepping into Bobby Petrino’s shoes didn’t start so well….and didn’t end very well either. Kragthorpe began with 2 straight wins over Murray State and Middle Tennessee State, before losing to Kentucky & Syracuse resulting in a 2-2 record in the 1st 4 games.
The 1st year of the Steve Kragthorpe era began with a 6-6 season a bowl streak snapped.
Hunter Cantwell had the task of filling in for Brian Brohm. Game 1 was one of the most putrid offensive games (205 yards of total offense) vs. Kentucky. The Cards rebounded with consecutive wins over Tennessee Tech and Kansas State. But the 1st four games of the season were a 2-2 record after a 26-21 loss to Connecticut.
The Cards would finish 5-7 with 5 consecutive losses to end the 2008 season.
2009-Adam Froman/Justin Burke
In 2009, Justin Burke started the 1st 3 games of 2009 before Adam Froman got mixed in. The two Quarterbacks would play various roles throughout the season and in the 1st four games of the season no one was really getting the job done.
Louisville started 1-3 with three straight losses after the season-opener vs. Indiana State. The Cards fell to Kentucky, at Utah, and then at home against Pittsburgh. The Cards finished 4-8 and missed a bowl for the 3rd consecutive season and concluded the Steve Kragthrope era.
Year 1 of the Charlie Strong era began 2-2 with hard-fought losses to Kentucky & Oregon State, but with wins over EKU & Arkansas State.
Louisville really never steadied out in 2010 but did finish 7-6 with a win over Southern Miss in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl over Southern Miss.
Teddy Bridgewater did not start the 1st three games of 2011 over Will Stein, but Louisville began the season 2-2 with wins over Murray State and Kentucky and losses to FIU & Marshall. Teddy Bridgewater came on after Stein was injured during the Kentucky game, and the Cards did lose 3 consecutive with Bridgewater as a starter before getting acclimated to the college game.
The Cards finished 7-6 after winning 5 of their last 7 and fell to NC State in the Belk Bowl.
|1998||John L. Smith from Ron Cooper||2-2||7-5 Lost Motor City Bowl|
|2000||Dave Ragone from Chris Redman||3-1||9-3 Lost in Liberty Bowl|
|2003||Bobby Petrino from John L. Smith||4-0||9-4 Lost in GMAC Bowl|
|Stefan LeFors from Dave Ragone|
|2005||Big East from C-USA||3-1||9-3 Lost in Gators|
|Brian Brohm from Stefan LeFors|
|2007||Steve Kragthorpe from Bobby Petrino||2-2||6-6 No Bowl|
|2008||Hunter Cantwell from Brian Brohm||2-2||5-7 No Bowl|
|2009||Justin Burke & Adam Froman from Hunter Cantwell||1-3||4-8 No Bowl|
|2010||Charlie Strong from Steve Kragthrope||2-2||7-6 Won Beef O’Brady Bowl|
|2011||Teddy Bridgewater from Adam Froman/Justin Burke||2-2||7-6 Lost Belk Bowl|
|2014||Bobby Petrino from Charlie Strong||3-1||?|
|Will Gardner from Teddy Bridgewater|
|ACC from Big East/American|