U of L athletic director Tom Jurich (left) will need a private plane to watch Rick Pitino's men's team as well as Jeff Walz' women's team chase national titles.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Tom Jurich came to the University of Louisville in 1997 to fix the football program and get the basketball program operating back within the NCAA lines.
He's done all that – and 3.7 million other things. Jurich has created an athletic juggernaut that now has the folks at Tennessee, Duke, Florida and elsewhere gasping. Big 12 fans have to be asking their administrators why they blew off Jurich's program and let the Atlantic Coast Conference take Louisville from the disappearing Big East.
Don't believe me?
Check the scoreboard. And the weekend calendar. And Jurich's roster of coaches. And Louisville's ranking by Forbes.com as the most profitable men's basketball program in the nation. And … you get the picture.
Jurich Envy is about to become the topic of the weekend. The man deserves praise – and a private plane. His program is trying to complete a historic three-point shot, and Jurich needs to shuttle between Atlanta and New Orleans.
Jeff Walz just took his U of L women's basketball team to Oklahoma City and treated the best team in the country (Baylor) and the best program in the history of the women's game (Tennessee) as if they were Back Street Elementary.
The Cards backed up their historic takedown of the Bears with a more impressive, 86-78, thumping of the Vols Tuesday night. NBA All-Star Kevin Durant used an in-game interview on ESPN to talk about how much he loved the way Walz coached his team. Shoni Schimmel played like Pete Maravich.
Louisville looked like the most entertaining women's basketball team on the planet. Jurich is likely not a bit surprised. He predicted Walz would do great things when he recruited him here from Maryland. And he has -- just the way another former assistant coach (Charlie Strong) has after Jurich gave me an opportunity and resources.
Now it's time for the research department to work overtime on this one:
Has any program ever won a Bowl Championship Series football game, a men's basketball championship and a women's basketball championship in the same season?
The answer is NO.
Two more wins by Rick Pitino's team in Atlanta Saturday and Monday and two more wins by Walz's team in New Orleans Sunday and Tuesday and Louisville will become the first.
Oklahoma in 2002 and Louisiana State in 2006 are the only other schools to get to BCS games and both Final Fours the same season. Both the Sooners and Tigers whiffed in the men's and women's Final Fours those years.
The Sugar Bowl trophy is already resting in a comfortable spot at the U of L football complex. Charlie Strong took his team to New Orleans last January and treated Florida as if the Gators' Southeastern Conference credentials had expired.
It got better. Strong got a job offer from Tennessee, looked at all the great things that come with coaching in the SEC – and decided he had a better situation here in Louisville, working for Jurich.
Rick Pitino can relate to that. Once Pitino was considered Mr. Job-Hopper. Now he's coached at Louisville longer than he's worked any place in his career – and he's threatening to put an exclamation point as well as a candle on his 12th season by becoming the first coach to win an NCAA title at two different schools.
The Cardinals head to Atlanta this weekend as 10-point favorites to take care of Wichita State Saturday at the Georgia Dome – and then finish the assignment on Monday against either Syracuse or Michigan.
Louisville is already only the 10th school in history to put teams in both the men's and women's Final Fours.
Now Jurich's program will try to deliver something no school has achieved in the same year – win a BCS bowl game as well as the men's and women's basketball championships.