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October 21, 2009

Approaching the end zone?

Coach Kragthorpe hangs on as rumors swirl about the future of Louisville football

The purpose here is to discuss Steve Kragthorpe.

More exactly, Steve Kragthorpe’s situation and the downward momentum of his career at Louisville: how he replaced Bobby Petrino, how the team was immediately less good, how the fans became disgruntled, how that disenchantment has escalated to cacophony, and how those fans want him gone — yesterday, if not sooner.

But first to Susan Boyle.

You remember her, right? She was all the rage as a singing sensation on one of those British who-is-going-to-be-the-next-superstar shows. One day, nobody had ever heard of the frumpy housefrau with the amazing voice. The next day, millions were viewing a video of her stunning debut on the Web.

How long ago was that? Weeks? Months? Last year?

Then she showed up soon enough with a makeover and a record contract, at which point all those instant fans abandoned their adulation and moved on.

Within a time frame most accurately measured in hours or days, they went veni, vidi, relici. With apologies to Plutarch, they came, they saw, they moved on.

Which is when I coined the term, “Boyle point.” It’s the instant in this accelerated cybergalactic age when our latest fascination becomes what was once called “yesterday’s papers,” the moment when we’ve mouse-clicked to the next diversion, the moment when the rage’s upward arc heads south.

So, as U of L’s football season trudges inexorably to ignominy, the fascination has moved from the field to the three-ring circus that is the discussion of Kragthorpe’s future in Louisville, and who his successor might be.

And in this saga, there have been too many Boyle points to compute.

Some are ancient history, like the moment just before Thanksgiving of 2007, following Kragthorpe’s first campaign. There was a major buzz among Cardinal fans, who were anticipating a press conference announcing Kragthorpe was leaving for Southern Methodist University. Remember that one?

Fast-forward to this season. Before it started, Athletic Director Tom Jurich gave his coach unequivocal support. Improvement was expected, and, more or less, assured.

How’s that renovation working?

Kragthorpe’s charges — as hard as they practice and despite their intentions to improve and repair critical mistakes that have escalated to epidemic proportions — have shown little appreciable betterment. Crucial penalties. Fumbles. Interceptions. Missed assignments. Blown plays on both sides of the ball.

As injuries mount, the Cards are thin. This is a result of Kragthorpe’s less-than-stellar recruiting, and a squad whose numbers are down because of the “bad apples” the coach ran off.

Call me a fool, but Anthony Allen sure might have helped at UConn.

So, the distraught fan base, fueled by a lack of any acknowledgement from U of L’s athletic department, has turned into a rabid rabble.

There have been a plethora of Boyle points. Kragthorpe would surely be gone after the UK loss. OK, maybe after the Utah debacle. Surely, after losing to Dave Wannstedt. Without any doubt, after Southern Miss, win or lose. No doubt, should the Cards lose at UConn, he’ll be gone.

There have been Internet reports that Jurich and Kragthorpe met, that the coach would be gone, and a press conference would be held within 48 hours. Was that two or three weeks ago?

There was the BagKrag.com hubbub. The site caught some national attention, for a cybersecond, and then faded.

Despite Tom Jurich’s continued support of Kragthorpe in the national media, local fans have turned their attention to who is going to be his successor, as if his departure is a fait accompli.

Jon Gruden or Tommy Tuberville? That was the question du jour at the hoops luncheon a couple weeks back. Then came the rumors online: First that Gruden was Jurich’s main target, and then that Gruden would never coach at any college, let alone U of L.

Take your choice.

In this age of media overload, this is not a day-to-day phenomenon. It’s minute-to-minute. No new information at insidetheville.com? Check out our sports blog at score.leoweekly.com. Nothing new there either? Try Twittering Kragthorpe (not the fake one).

Because this is being written for Wednesday’s print edition — in the wake of Louisville’s awful performance at Connecticut — I’m betting there will be another Boyle point or two by the time you read this. I’ll also bet that Steve Kragthorpe is still Louisville’s coach.

c d kaplan covers sports for LEO. Follow him at score.leoweekly.com.

crapthroat

By pissedoffcard
pissedoff I don't understand why TJ doesn't make a statement, his coach has not made any improvements, and the decline in performance continues. I stopped going to watch the team after the beating we toke from Utah two seasons back. I will never go again until this coach leaves, never. I have been going to games since 1980, never again not with this coach. I used to say without a doubt Wannsteadt was the worst coach in the BE, not anymore the worst coach in the BE lives in Louisville for now.