LEWIS | John L. Smith shares memories of win over Florida St. - WDRB 41 Louisville News

LEWIS | John L. Smith shares memories of win over Florida St.

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) – John L. Smith is preparing for a big home game this Saturday. His Kentucky State Thorobreds are trying to pick up their first win after two losses on the road in Smith’s inaugural year. Around this time fourteen years ago, Smith was the head coach at Louisville and preparing for huge home game. A game that put the University of Louisville on a different trajectory.

Fourth-ranked Florida State was coming to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium September 26th, 2002. The Cardinals, then in Conference USA, were underdogs to the one of the elite teams in not just the ACC, but all of college football.

"I recall that two years earlier, we had gone to Tallahassee and we had a lot of sophomores and young kids playing---and they thumped us pretty good at their house. And then we had them coming in. So now, all of a sudden, those sophomores and young guys were juniors and seniors, so they were looking forward to it,” Smith said.

In a torrential downpour, fallout of Hurricane Isidore, the Cardinals took the Seminoles to overtime. An Anthony Floyd interception in that OT gave the Cards the ball. The second play of overtime was a counter to running back Henry Miller. He ran 25 yards into the end zone, giving U of L a 26-20 victory.

“We almost drowned Henry. If you'll remember, we had the big swale at the (end zone) and it was full of water. It had to be three feet deep. I thought the poor kid was going to drown. His teammates were going to kill him," Smith said of the post-TD celebration.

During the post-game news conference, Smith slapped himself in the face, as if he couldn’t believe what happened.

He says that win over Florida State changed everything.

"It kind of made us a household name. After that game, you get a win, you're on TV, and the recruits at least invited us in. We were able to sit down at the table with the (big time schools),” Smith said.

Smith eventually moved on to Michigan State, where he had his share of nationally recognized victories, but the Florida State win is still special to him fourteen years later.

"That was huge. A couple of the wins at Notre Dame Stadium when I was at Michigan State were gigantic, just because it's kind of like it's hallowed ground, but for what it has done and did do, I think, for a program (there's) nothing bigger that I've participated in."

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