It was coined by some snarky pundit to describe how Dabo Swinney’s early teams, improving as they were, appearing prepared to scale the the mountain of college football, never could summit. How they’d win the ones they were supposed to, but couldn’t beat Florida State or beat rival South Carolina, or break on through to elite status.
Clemsoning was a four letter word to the purple- and orange-clad fans.
Swinney finally addressed it publicly. He chastised the media for continuing to use the descriptor. But he didn’t just complain. More important, he and his teams continued to improve, and started to win the big ones, the biggest one.
That word, that C-bomb, is heard no more.
Clemson is now top shelf.
It is legitimate to compare the arc of Louisville football to that of their conquerors last night, the school that also bested them last year. And the year before that. And the year before that.
* * * * *
There is no reason to dissect yesterday’s prime time loss to Clemson.
There was no turning point in the game. The visitors simply throttled the Cards. As bad as the 47-21 score sounds, it doesn’t begin to tell the tale. U of L was manhandled by a bigger, better, faster, stronger, more talented, better coached team.
Cardinal Statistics matter not. Any numbers that appear glossy on their face are false positives or garbage time stat stuffing.
So, not that the season is over by any means or that the sky is falling, the elephant in the room must be addressed.
Whither Louisville Cardinal football?
So talented is Lamar Jackson, the best Cardinal ever, so much faith has been placed in Bobby Petrino, once The Next Great Coach, that there’s a tendency to gloss over disturbing trends from last season and this.
It is common recollection how Louisville faltered in its last three battles last campaign. But it is easy to forget how it took a last second thirty yard TD pass to win over mediocre UVa. How the Cardinals trailed at the half against Wake Forest, even though they knew what the Demon Deacons were going to run.
How, instead of girding up for Houston, some Cardinal players brayed at the disrespect afforded by the Final Four Selection Committee. Then didn’t show up to play the rest of the campaign.
How, with the Heisman holder at the helm this season, U of L clamped down neither Purdue nor North Carolina until late. How Bobby Petrino protégé Jeff Brohm looked the coaching savant during the Cards escape in Indy. How the Cards didn’t take charge until the 4th Q in Chapel Hill.
Shouldn’t the Cardinals be more ready, more steady?
That Louisville lost to Clemson isn’t really the issue. The Tigers are just way better.
What matters is that the Cardinals didn’t seem ready.
They admit to being too excited. Frankly, that was inevitable, given the out of control hubbub in town once it was announced that Game Day was coming, that the game would be played in prime time, that the Heisman trailer would be in town, that tailgating would start figuratively on Wednesday and literally six hours before kickoff.
That energy was absorbed by the squad. Good coaching could and should have tamped it down.
Paint it black, you devil.
* * * * *
We will learn what Louisville is made of come October. (Earlier if the Cards don’t throttle its next two bought chumps.)
Against Clemson, the Cardinals embarrassingly gave in. If performance meets legit expectations, they should win out except in Tallahassee. Will they? Will they compete against the Seminoles more ardently than last night.
Will Bobby Petrino and his staff and his charges move beyond their clemsoning propensities?
— Seedy K