Last night — Friday evening — I was surfing through channels, looking for some sporting event to watch. Or some sports news that didn’t have anything to do with the Tiger Woods. I arrived eventually at the Big Ten Network.
On which, there was a replay of the telecast of the Rutgers vs. U of L football game from November, 2006. You remember, right? Both teams were undefeated. Louisville was ranked #3, having defeated Top 5 West Virginia in its previous battle. Rutgers, under Greg Schiano, was ranked #15. The ESPN Thursday Night crew, which then included Kirk Herbstreit, was in the house.
(How come the game was being shown on BTN, you might ask? Legit query. Well, the state university of New Jersey is now a proud member of the arithmetically imprecise, geographically expansive Big Ten. Which is enough, one supposes, for the TV guys to hang their hats on. Especially during this time of year when folks are chomping at the bit for football to start, and will watch any game where the players are in helmets and pads.)
You might also recall it wasn’t Louisville’s finest hour on the gridiron. Up 25-7 midway through the second quarter, the Cardinals didn’t tally again. Heck they didn’t generate much of any offense again. The Scarlet Knights won, 28-25, on a second chance last minute field goal. My morbid sense of curiosity wouldn’t allow me to turn away.
Plus I couldn’t really remember the specifics of the game. Which, after viewing it, were eerily similar to last year’s L to Central Florida. Big early lead. Meltdown.1
It was also fascinating to watch Bobby Petrino on the sidelines as the game slipped inexorably away. Maybe, he’d already cut the deal with Atlanta’s Falcons? Whatever, it just didn’t seem like the wheels were turning for him as the game fell apart.
Talking with another scribe this morning at media day about that Cardinal blown opportunity to play for the BCS “championship,’ we wondered if Petrino, for all his organizational acumen, game planning panache and offensive genius, might not be a “good bench coach?”
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As for media day itself, well, it was just the same as it ever was.
Free meal for us “journalists.” Breakfast this year, since Bobby P did his Q & A at 8:15 in the a.m.
Then a lot of “it’s still early,” “we’re happy so far,” “we’re bigger, more physical than the spring,” “the advantage is always with the defense when we’re still just in helmets,” “we like our running game,” “XXX is a great leader,” “XXX is an incredible physical specimen, but needs to work on his technique,”2 and, “No, we don’t pay any attention to the polls.”
Which is to say that Bobby Petrino offered little we didn’t already know. Nor did any of his assistants, who did their meet and greet after a short break which allowed time for a second pass through for extra helpings of free eggs and sausage.
Transfers Pio Vatuvei. a defensive end from Cali, and safety Johnny Sample, also a Golden Stater, have impressed their new coaches.
Reggie Bonnafon appears headed to Backup QB #1, in an unwieldy field of eight behind sure to be designated starter, Will Gardner.Etc, etc, etc.
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Two interesting observations about Petrino during his half hour stint at the mic.
One, his eyes lit up when talking about transfers who must sit out this year, like Harvey Clemons.
“I wish he could play now.”
And he made a joke about texting with his wife.3
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My favorite story came from the mouth of articulate Offensive Coordinator Garrick McGee, when talking about OG Jamon Brown, a senior from Fern Creek.
His mentors want him a little slimmer than his listed 326 lbs.
Brown has done what’s asked, losing some avoirdupois, telling McGee, “I grew up dreaming about playing for Bobby Petrino in Papa John’s Stadium. So whatever he tells me to do, I’m going to do.”
— Seedy K