Thursday, June 21, 2018
An outsider looks at Tyra -- THURSDAY CARDINAL COUPLE
DAVID WATSON WEIGHS IN ON LOUISVILLE A.D.
Hey-Ho and Good Morning! Dave O with you today while Paulie and the Miss Sonya take a few days away from the fray to vacation. When I talked with "the big guy" on Tuesday to discuss the article, one thing we kept coming back to were "coaches". Louisville has brought in some very good ones. They've sweetened the pot for a few more.
When I refer to "Louisville" and "they", I am alluding to the job that Vince Tyra has done in the eight months since Tom Jurich was let go. October 18, 2017.
These are views from someone (namely me) who does not live in Louisville but has relatives in the area and has been fascinated with Louisville Athletics since the days of Darrell Griffith and the Doctors of Dunk. I'll admit it, my first love was Notre Dame. It's tough being a Cardinal supporter in South Bend. Much easier in Bradenton, my current locale. It's possible I may have been the only Cardinal fan in Medford, N.J., where I spent those "formative years" and where I met my wife.
I have seen the good and the bad associated with the Cards. My oldest daughter dreamed of playing field hockey at UofL but the Cards didn't show the same interest, her skill sets weren't quite ACC proficient and she went to, and prospered, at a northeastern United States university. When I lived in Muncie, we'd drive down to watch women's and men's basketball and the occasional football game. I met Paulie at WBB, random circumstances where I just happened to end up sitting next to him in those magical Freedom Hall days. Those days before he eventually descended to his current spot in the YUM! where he keeps Jerry Abramson and Al Benninger awake and informed.
I sat through Cooper and Crum. Strong and Krags. Bustin and Sowry. I've said words while listening to Cardinal radio broadcasts that would make a drunken sailor on shore leave blush. I've yelled so loud from my garage about good things that the neighbors have come over to see if I was OK. Your typical Cards fan, right?
I'll start here on Vince. It has got to be one of the toughest things in the world to "come in" after a legend departs.
Especially under the circumstances that existed at the time. There was a strong "pro-Tom" movement from what I heard, a strong "anti-board" movement as well. Vince accepted a job where he was, basically, tossed into a red-hot skillet and expected not to scorch or burn.
He was also faced with decisions and speculation. As Bob Valvano and others have said, when A.D.'s leave, coaches do too. It was not a smooth and controversy-free transition. I liken it to pulling in to restaurant for a small snack and getting a plate of food a foot high. A basketball coach was needed. The NCAA and FBI were monitoring Louisville Athletics. Something had to be done about a lacrosse coach out-of-control.
Welcome to college athletics, Vince.
Step by step, deliberately and with care, he moved forward. Padgett and Teeter joined the fold. Lolla and Ferguson-Dayes were given assurances and enhancements. A university President was hired. Walz and McDonnell received the type of extensions and support needed to keep them on campus. A surprise but totally understandable retirement in softball. Working with a board that most consider a detriment to Louisville Athletics. A governor that is solidly in UK's camp. Vince was climbing Mt. Everest in a speedo and swimming trunks. But, he's still smiling and making progress.
One-by-one, the mountains were turned into molehills. And, Vince's long-term love and support for the program became obvious. Standing in the snow at lacrosse, watching softball, basketball, volleyball and all other sports...being there, being seen and finding out what was needed and how he could help. The doomsayers and naysayers were hushed. The University was starting to crawl out of the abyss and striding toward daylight.
I watched this with intrigue and interest 900 miles and 14 hours away from the Belknap campus. One by one, Vince "got a grip" on an issue and carried it to completion.
Paulie and I had a few conversations along the way. At times, the Cardinal Couple co-owner was disillusioned and almost apathetic. I think he mirrored a lot of Cardinal fans' feelings. Today, on this first day of summer, Paulie is now optimistic and confident about the 2018-19 season and Cardinal Athletics. In this "myoptic" void...or "summer doldrums" as he calls it, there is faith and pride. Confidence in his voice. Interviews ahead with coaches and players. He shows excitement.
As there is with me.
Would I feel this way if it had been another choice for A.D? That, of course, is very hard to say -- but, despite my undying admiration for what Tom Jurich did in 20 years at UofL -- I think the UofL Athletics program is standing on solid ground now.
I fully hope, believe and pray that it remains that way.
It's Thursday. The sun is out here and shining shortly before 9 a.m. The golf course is calling in the distance, I can hear it, and it's asking me to come out and play, to lose balls in the woods, to three-putt greens, to completely duff fairway irons. So -- I'm off.
Thanks for letting me share these pages today. Have a great Thursday and, following Jared's lead, I'll remind you that today is the first day of Summer, National Selfie Day and National Seashell Day. Why not send Cardinal Couple a selfie of yourself holding a seashell?
All comments appreciated on my article.