CRAWFORD | Five big University of Louisville changes from College GameDay's last visit
It's only been a year since ESPN's College GameDay visited the University of Louisville, but a lot will be different this time around. Eric Crawford runs through some of the bigger changes.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – It’s only been a year since College GameDay was last in the city of Louisville, but in many ways, it’s a different place that Rece Davis, Kirk Herbstreit, Lee Corso, Desmond Howard and the rest of the crew will encounter when they arrive late this week.
Here are five things that have changed since last time GameDay was in Louisville on Sept. 17 of last year.
1). THE HARDWARE. The biggest change? There’s a Heisman Trophy in the lobby of Louisville’s football offices. Lamar Jackson was just about to break onto the national stage last year when ESPN came to town. This year, he’s been center stage, pushed off, and now is charging back on again.
Only 39 schools have had players win Heisman Trophies. U of L has had as many Heisman winners as Penn State and UCLA.
You probably could’ve gotten good odds on the top two Heisman finishers having played last season when U of L faced Clemson. The order? You’d have had some debate. In fact, fans of the school still are laying claim to who really deserved it, with Clemson’s Deshaun Watson having gone on to lead the school to a national title.
But the trophy is there on Floyd Street.
2). THE SITE. A construction project at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium means that the site of last year’s College GameDay set now is a construction site. That means the crew will move its show to the lawn in front of Louisville’s Grawemeyer Hall administration building.
It’ll give the university a chance to try to emphasize some of its non-athletic accomplishments, and bring a little spotlight to a couple of university landmarks, the building, and The Thinker.
You should know, this isn’t Grawemeyer Hall’s first experience with national media fame. During a trip to Kentucky to broadcast from the State Fair in 1956, NBC’s Today show with Dave Garroway broadcast from outside of Grawemeyer Hall on the morning of September 10. The big news in town that week was traffic for the Fair, exacerbated by the opening of a brand new stadium at the Fairgrounds, and christened that very week by the stadium’s first football game, an exhibition between the Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Colts.
Construction on Grawemeyer Hall was completed in 1926. The architecture was based on the Rotunda at the University of Virginia, and its columns inspired by the Pantheon in Rome.
The Thinker was the first of eight large scale bronze casts of his famous sculpture overseen by French sculptor Auguste Rodin. It came to the U.S. for the St. Louis World’s Fair exhibition in 1904, and was on display in Baltimore before being bought as a gift to the city of Louisville, which in turn presented it to U of L.
No matter how many championships the school wins in however may sports, this spot, in front of The Thinker, on the lawn in front of Grawemeyer Hall, is the signature spot on the U of L campus.
3). THE CONSTRUCTION. Fans will notice some changes at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, and not just the new policy of wanding those who enter the stadium or the new clear-bag security policy.
The large seating section beyond the North end zone is well under way and stretching above the Howard Schnellenberger Football Complex building and video board in the end zone. The new $63 million construction project will include field level seats, loge seating and will complete the bowl in the stadium.
When finished, Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium will have the largest seating capacity of any stadium in Kentucky, at around 65,000.
In the meantime, it changes everything, from the way fans enter the stadium to the way the team enters the stadium.
“It’s been challenging as far as how we get to the field, how we get to the game field, how we go through scrimmages, but we’ll take it, because we know the end result is going to be a great game-day experience for the fans and for our players,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said.
4). THE PREZ. Neville Pinto was acting president of the university when GameDay visited last year. He soon left to become president of the University of Cincinnati.
Holding the position when GameDay arrives this year is Dr. Greg Postel, who came to the job from U of L’s Health Sciences Center, where he had been serving as Interim Executive Vice President for Health Affairs since December 2015.
Postel completed his residency in radiology at the Cleveland Clinic, and came to U of L’s School of Medicine from the Mayo Clinic 23 years ago as an assistant professor of radiology and head of the Neuroradiology section. In 1997, he became chairman of the Radiology department.
Two things you might not know about him: He’s an accomplished pianist and has served as the vice president of the Louisville Orchestra. After a hectic day on campus, you might hear him pounding away at a piece by Chopin. He also is the father of twin 7-year-old boys.
5). THE TIME. Louisville faced Florida State last season at noon. This time, thanks to some last-minute hotel wrangling, the Cardinals will face Clemson just after 8 p.m. There’s something special about Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium at night.
Louisville stats guru Kelly Dickey points out that the Cardinals have won 12 consecutive Saturday night games at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, and is 13-1 in night games here overall, with the only loss coming to Illinois in 1999.
He further notes that U of L hasn’t played host to a ranked team on a Saturday night since No. 2-ranked Florida State visited old Cardinal Stadium back in 1991. The only others were Miami in 1982, Florida State in 1979 and Maryland in 1978.
CORRECTION: The original version of this story said that James Ramsey was president at U of L when College GameDay visited last September. He resigned in July. Neville Pinto was acting president of U of L last September.
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