WEDNESDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
-Louisville's success in 2011-12 fueled by six women's sports titles.
-More sword rattling.
The University of Louisville led the BIG EAST during the 2011-12 athletic season with 10 titles. Six of those belonged to womens' sports programs on campus: Softball (regular season and tournament), Volleyball, Soccer, Swimming and Diving and Track and Field.
Football, Baseball, Men's Basketball and Men's Tennis were the other four title winners. The titles include regular season and tournament wins...as well as ties and co-champion honors.
Coming in second was Notre Dame with eight.
Schools departing the conference didn't fare nearly as well. WVU (headed to the BIG 12) captured three titles. Syracuse (ACC) had four and Pittsburgh (ACC) zero. Good luck down the road. Maybe an easier conference will get you a few more trophies.
Certainly a leverage point for Louisville to use in further BIG EAST plans...one would think. Also a bargaining chip in any possible UofL plans to seek a new conference home.
The Ladybirds and Cardinal cheer-leading squads have also racked up numerous national awards over the years. No official BIG EAST Competition in those two events...but we know who the odds-on favorite would be if there were.
Over the next several years the landscape of the BIG EAST will change considerably. New additions, new division alignments, new venues to visit and new challenges for the Cardinal athletes to overcome.
IF, of course, the Cards are still part of the BIG EAST.
So how do the womens' teams look for 2012-13?
Basketball under Jeff Walz will be powerful as usual. With graduation affecting both Notre Dame and Connecticut, the Cards could become major contenders to vye for a title. Softball returns all but three players from the regular season and tournament title team. Sandy Pearsall will have them ready to hit, pitch and run. Volleyball will be strong again as Anne Kordes starts to put her brand on the program and returns several key players from last year.
Soccer will be a contender in their division again and with WVU leaving, could be the favorite in the tournament. Swimming and diving is loaded again with talent and the track and field program with their strong throws contingent will look for their sixth straight BIG EAST title.
Field Hockey is steadily growing with new coach Justine Sowry and new players. Lacrosse underwent a transition year and will return with more experience and strength in the highly competitive BIG EAST. Golf has several talented sophomores returning and tennis should continue to improve under Mark Beckham's guidance. Rowing finished third this year in the BIG EAST Tournament. Cross Country was 11th this year but a talented class of freshmen and returnees should improve those numbers.
All in all, should be another exciting season for womens sports at UofL. Maybe the guys will eventually catch up with the Cardinal women...anyone up for another six-pack of titles for the ladies?
Those crazy Wildcats.
Joker Phillips, head football coach at UK, has mentioned that if the SEC goes to a nine-game SEC football schedule -- that the Cats might have to consider dropping "that school to the west" from their schedule.
Open mouth, insert foot.
Do you really want to draw a line through the team that produced your highest attendance figure for your home games, El Joke-o? Maybe he's getting tired of all the "jokes" about Bobby Petrino buying a home in Lexington. Maybe he sees the growth of the UofL football program under Charlie Strong compared to the stagnation occurring with UK football with him at the helm. UK is ninth currently in SEC home football game attendance. These aren't the Tim Couch years, are they?
The "Coach Kragjoker" moniker that has been making the rounds lately might be a bit too harsh...no one destroys a program better that the former UofL football coach...but the confidence level in UK gridiron concerns has plummeted since Mel Brooks left the keys to the program in Joker's basket.
First off, chances are that the SEC won't go to nine conference games. Secondly, we understand that you are on the "hot seat" at UK. But, finally...do you really want your non-conference schedule to consist with the Norfolk State's, Bowling Green's and Ed's School of Barbering and Pedicures of the world? The fans may never leave the Harrodsburg Rd. tailgate area.
Then, John Calipari is proposing a sports triple-header for the Cats at a dome somewhere. Football, men's hoops and ladies' hoops.
Can't wait to see the ticket prices on that one if it ever happens. " Sir, your request for a UK Sporting Event loan has been approved! "
How about a triple-header with UK women's soccer, volleyball and softball? Or rowing, lacrosse and rifle?
It boggles the mind, sometimes...