December 5, 2009

The One Who Shouldn't Have Been Fired

Two get axed, but one should have been spared . . . so long Steve Kragthorpe, we hardly knew ya.

The thing that amazes me about the U of L fans is their sense of entitlement. One expects to fight against that arrogance at "legendary" Notre Dame. But what is it about the tenures of John L. Smith and Bobby Petrino that makes the Cardinal faithful think that they are a football destination ("whooo hooo! we beat Miami in a bowl game once!!)? Louisville is nothing more than a stop on the way to the top echelon of football, and just like Smith and Petrino, any "up and comer" is going to treat it that way, unless he is a guy of uncommon character.

Which Steve Kragthorpe is. He had a chance to bail on a bad situation and take an SMU job for similar money and less pressure, but he gave his word to U of L, so he stuck it out. He took over a program specifically designed to be a resume bauble for John L and Bobby, and tried to turn it into a true program instead of a couple flashy teams. He started doing the hard work, weeding out the bad elements, hard-wiring recruiting circuits, and trying to build a lasting foundation. All the while, U of L fans acted like Notre Dame fans, screaming for the head of their "mediocre coach" in order to restore "pride in their program" . . . like the house of Cards built by Smith and Petrino was anything to be proud of.

Three years, and Kragthorpe's gone. He left with the same honesty and class with which he entered: while being forthright about the obvious fact that three years is not enough time to do the job he was asked to do, he nonetheless refused to incriminate the university ("that's just the way coaching is these days - if you want to coach, you have to live with that."). He will find himself in another good situation soon, hopefully in a place out of the line of fire of idiots like the ones who pushed him out of Louisville.

Louisville AD Tom Jurich can still come out of this looking good by hiring Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong. U of L, given its history as the black alternative to the University of Kentucky, would look good with a black head coach, and lord knows there needs to be more black coaches in BCS college football. I only hope that Jurich deals with Strong better than he dealt with Kragthorpe.

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