LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The last time the University of Louisville announced its first schedule in a new conference, it was before its move to the Big East, and the coach was Bobby Petrino.
Today, Petrino, beginning his second stint as U of L coach, welcomed the announcement of U of L's first schedule as a new member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
He spoke with reporters briefly this afternoon. A transcript of most of his comments (with questions paraphrased):
BOBBY PETRINO: It's very exciting and it's very challenging. To be able to open on Monday night on national TV with Miami at home is something that certainly will be a motivating factor for us throughout the offseason and through the summer and a great rematch of the bowl game, so that will definitely be a challenge.
The teams that we get to bring to Louisville for our fans will be exciting. And then we have a couple of road games that I think will be real exciting for our players and for the fans, so overall it looks like a great challenge, but something we've been looking forward to.
Q: You were here before, and looking at this schedule and all the heavyweights, what does it say about where this program is?
PETRINO: Well, it's certainly what we've wanted, to be able to play a schedule like that and be in a conference like the ACC. You know, it's really a tribute to Tom Jurich and everything he's done for the athletic department, the boosters, Dr. (James) Ramsey, and the vision of the program. I think it's something that for our fans and our players has been very exciting.
Q: What does this day signify for you, when you kind of know now what is in front of you? There had been talk of opening against Miami, but now with it all laid out in front of you?
PETRINO: Now we just start preparing for it. We always believe in doing a lot of work in the offseason. It's just a matter of getting our preparation in order. Getting our video and everything in the computer, start breaking down games and how we're going to win some. It's just exciting.
Q: Do any of the road games, like Clemson, or that game at Notre Dame which is something they've been wanting for years and years, kind of jump out at you?
PETRINO: They do. They definitely do. But the other games are a great challenge too. Every one of the games we play on the road is a unique place that you have to go into. Playing inside against Syracuse is always a great challenge, then you come right back and go to Clemson. Obviously growing up as a kid and having some Irish ancestors on my mom's side, to go play at Notre Dame is exciting. And for the city of Louisville, going way back to all the recruiting that went that on bringing players to Notre Dame, that one jumps out at you, and is something we're going to have a great time with.
Q: What do you think about Kentucky as the last game on the schedule?
PETRINO: You know, obviously I would rather play it first. I thought that was fun and unique and was a great thing to do. But to have it on rivalry week, I'm good with that too. Just as long as we get to keep them on the schedule and play them every year I think is great for football in the state of Kentucky.
Q: What does that Monday Night Labor Day TV opener mean in terms of being a stage for the program, and for your first game back at U of L?
PETRINO: It's exciting for us. It's great for the players that are on our team. Like I said, we'll use it for a motivating factor throughout the entire winter, through mat drills and summer program, to get ready for a big game. I like doing that, playing a big game to start the season, because it makes everybody work harder, makes every run that you do, every workout, more important, and I've always had a lot of fun in preparation for an opener like that. It will play into recruiting, being able to be on a national stage on a Monday when no one else is playing. You know, everybody watches those games, players are home, they don't have their games or study sessions, so they're watching. It's a great way to kick off the season and start our recruiting off, also.
Q: You know how this program has done on Thursday nights and how those games have helped the program. Talk about having the defending national champions come in on Thursday night.
PETRINO: The first time I saw the schedule I thought, Thursday night, that's the last time Louisville played Florida State at home was on a Thursday night in a very rainy game. It would be great to go into overtime and beat them again. Maybe it's a good omen.
Q: You talked about the road games. You've got a five-week stretch where you've got four road games. While it's fun to look at now for the coaches, it's going to be a challenge, right?
PETRINO: There's no question it's challenging. We're just going to have to do a great job of taking one game at a time and really focusing on that, learning how to travel real well, doing things right when we travel. Just basically, you have to play one at a time. It's going to be to the point where everyone is going to be competitive. There's going to be talent on every team. All the teams are going to be really well coached. So you can't take a week off. You have to go out and play well and perform well on a weekly basis.
Q: When you look up and down the schedule, do you see a theme with ACC schools? With Florida State and Clemson and yourself, there would seem a lot of offense in this league?
PETRINO: I don't know. We'll just have to see how it plays out. Clemson loses a lot of really good players and guys who were in that scheme and playing at a very high level for a number of years. Florida State has a great quarterback coming back who has shown he can put a lot of points on the board. But in real tight and close games, you know, it comes down to the defense. We're going to have to play great defense. We're going to have to be able to create turnovers, get stops on third down and get the offense the ball back. A lot of times when you look at games and think this game will be a shootout, just the opposite happens. You have to be able to perform in all three phases.
Q: What did you like about Todd Grantham's defensive scheme and what do you hope he builds at Louisville?
PETRINO: With Todd, you know, it was a situation where we prepared for him, and prepared for him for a long time (at Arkansas). We played Georgia early in the season and went back and watched everything they did at the Dallas Cowboys. He does a great job schematically, puts a lot of pressure on you as far as your ability to run the ball, protect the quarterback, has great knowledge of the entire scheme and then what he does that I thought was very exceptional is developing players, being able to take young guys, teach them how to play the game, get them on the field and watch them get better as the year goes on. I've got the utmost respect for Todd from competing against him. I got to know him very well over a number of conversations we've had over the past few years, and I'm very, very excited to have him come in and run our defense, let him run our defense. It's something that he's very good at.
Q: When might the black jerseys come out?
PETRINO: Like I told the team, we had the first blackout, a Thursday night game against West Virginia, I think they were ranked third in the country and we were fifth. It was an exciting time for us. I've always believed in letting the players feel good, look good and play good, and I think it helps in recruiting. I really believe that it helped in recruiting when you look at Oregon and all the things they've done up there with their uniforms and style. Kids like to come in and look good and play good.
Q: What are your thoughts about opening up with a conference game?
PETRINO: Ideally, you'd like to do it the other way. You'd like to have a couple of non-conference games, find where you're at, then get into the conference play. But with the playoff coming, and quality of schedule we have, every game is going to be important, so it really doesn't matter the order.
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