LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- This had to be a familiar scenario for University of Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich. With a crowd of about 1,500 in attendance for a Cardinal Caravan event on the banks of the Ohio River, storm clouds blew in, the wind picked up, lightning flashed and everyone braced.
But at least during that event, the storm never came.
You know, kind of like conference realignment, as far as U of L has been concerned.
The winds of change have been blowing in college sports, but they have yet to dislodge U of L, which remains in a Big East Conference that appears ever more separated from college football's power structure.
On Thursday, Jurich said he's prepared to ride out any conference conditions that arise, but like the weather, there's nothing he can do to control them.
"We can't control our options," Jurich said. "There's no movement right now. Everything has settled. So we've just got to stand back and judge what are the best options for us if they do become available. And if they don't, the Big East is a pretty damn good landing for us."
In some ways, the college sports discussion has been so centered on the coming shift to a football playoff in 2014 that it's easy to forget about the next two seasons. Jurich, it seems, has the opposite perspective. He's urging his department to focus on this season and next, and letting the future fall out as it will.
U of L has been traveling to its various caravan stops with the 10 Big East championship trophies it won this past season. Over the past seven seasons, U of L has won 50 Big East championships.
"To put that in perspective," Jurich said. " A team like Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey, has won three."
But it's fair also to say that Jurich seems a bit more intense in his comments about moving the program forward in the coming season. He's always very complimentary of his coaches. Those conference tournament trophies, however, aren't the ultimate goal. In fact, U of L built a marketing video around being the only NCAA Division I program to make the postseason in these eight sports -- football, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's soccer, volleyball, baseball, and softball. But despite that, the school's all-sports rankings fell.
"We need to get better, we have as much work to do now as we ever have," Jurich said. "The great thing is I don't see any weaknesses across the entire department. When I came here, I didn't just want to be about basketball, but about 23 sports competing for championships. Now we want to see a lot of these programs that are close take the next step."
One he singled out in particular when speaking to the crowd was baseball. "All these other sports are fantastic, but I want to get back to Omaha, because (the College World Series) is the best sporting event I've been to."
Jurich stressed when I talked to him Thursday that U of L can get to where it wants to go from where it is right now. It has been to the College World Series and women's basketball Final Four. It has a shot at the Orange Bowl in the next two seasons, which would be significant in positioning the league for the future.
"We want to put ourselves in the best possible position," Jurich said. "Are we always working on doing that and thinking about what it will take to do that? Yes. But at the same time, I really want to stress that we think the Big East is a good spot. I went down to our league meetings at Ponte Vedra and the programs I saw down there coming into the conference are just like we were six or seven years ago. They're right on the verge, and they're making new commitments, and I really think you're going to see some of them take off as they come online in the league."
As for what U of L is going to do, Jurich acknowledges it could be a special year coming up, with football improving. Women's basketball could lead the nation in attendance in the coming season. Men's basketball is coming off a Final Four with a top five ranking.
"The job Rick Pitino did last season, I've been an athletic director for 28 years, it's the best I've ever seen," Jurich said. "All the injuries he had midseason, they lost their last two games, lost to South Florida, basically got booed off the court. But he never let those kids quit believing in themselves and kept bringing them around.
"It was a great thing for our program. And I'll tell you, if you were out on Bourbon Street that Friday night of the Final Four, I'm telling you it was at least 50-50 red to blue. They can talk all they want to about the (Big Blue) Nation, but our fans showed up, and they've been great."
Jurich said he'll always been involved in what's going on with realignment, but doesn't want it to detract from what is happening on the athletic field.
"Everybody said we were going to 16-team superconferences, and that hasn't happened and I don't think it will," he said. "I think we've got an opportunity right where we are to do some very special things, and we want to take advantage of that."
It's not much of a change from any other time Jurich has addressed the topics -- even if the winds of change surely haven't died down for long.
Copyright 2012 WDRB News. All Rights Reserved.
Sign Up for the WDRB Sports Newsletter
Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Tuesday, May 21 2013 12:03 PM EDT2013-05-21 16:03:47 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- This has a familiar sound. Bobby Petrino takes over a program making a conference change and looks to lift it in stature.The new Western Kentucky University coach was at the ConferenceMore >>
In Eric Crawford's "Morning Line," Bobby Petrino says he's not patient and wants to get WKU "cranked up pretty good" in a hurry, plus John Calipari's storm donation and more.More >>
Monday, May 20 2013 10:38 PM EDT2013-05-21 02:38:47 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Teddy Bridgewater doesn't ask for much. So when he told University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong and offensive coordinator Shawn Watson that he wanted to ask somethingMore >>
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is certainly going to be a Heisman Trophy candidate to start next season, but he has told coaches he doesn't want a Heisman publicity campaign.More >>
Monday, May 20 2013 12:41 AM EDT2013-05-20 04:41:21 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The scene is always the same. After every University of Kentucky basketball home game, the coach walks across the Rupp Arena court, puts on his headset and starts talking withMore >>
Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari will do things a bit differently with his young but talented Wildcats team this season.More >>
Saturday, May 18 2013 7:54 AM EDT2013-05-18 11:54:38 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Longtime golf commentator and 1964 U.S. Open champion Ken Venturi died today, and there's nearly no need to add to the tributes that surely will come, because there's a greatMore >>
Ken Venturi left a lasting memory in Louisville when he opened Hunting Creek Country Club's championship course with a record that still stands, and with a simple gesture to a sportswriter 25 years later.More >>
Tuesday, May 14 2013 5:25 PM EDT2013-05-14 21:25:36 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- I like Andrew Wiggins. Here's a kid who didn't want to make a spectacle of his recruitment, despite being the top-ranked basketball recruit in the nation and being hailed as theMore >>
Eric Crawford surveys the carnage of the Andrew Wiggins circus, and ponders what it means for the future of civilization.More >>
Sunday, May 12 2013 11:30 PM EDT2013-05-13 03:30:46 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Alabama football coach Nick Saban simply said out loud what people have been talking about for some time last week during a stop on his offseason "Crimson Caravan."RespondingMore >>
Alabama coach Nick Saban's idea for power conference football team to play only teams from other elite conferences sounds good -- but most programs would never accept it.More >>
Saturday, May 11 2013 10:26 AM EDT2013-05-11 14:26:43 GMT
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The NCAA basketball rules committee has wrapped up its most recent round of talks with more tweaks.It didn't reduce the shot clock, but it did try to streamline the video reviewMore >>
Ten suggestions to get the game of college basketball moving again. More >>