CRAWFORD | Louisville passes Resilience 101 exam at Florida State
The Louisville football program displayed some resilience in its win at Florida State on Saturday.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – When people argue that college sports athletes should get some kind of course credit for the sports they play, I tend to agree. The University of Louisville football team’s 31-28 win over Florida State on Saturday had to be good for at least a credit hour, right?
If nothing else, it taught resilience, and few things can be more valuable. The Cards had the motivational deck stacked against them. They’d lost two straight. They were pretty well out of any chance to contend for the ACC Atlantic Division championship. Their defense was struggling. If Lamar Jackson wasn’t out of Heisman contention with a subpar performance against Clemson, he finished himself off by throwing a pick-six with the game on the line late in a national TV loss at North Carolina State.
Florida State had all the momentum in the world, having not only lost to Louisville 63-20 last season, but hearing Louisville coach Bobby Petrino speculate later in the year that his team should’ve perhaps beaten the Seminoles worse for rankings reasons.
And that’s not even to mention the media. College football is the worst, when it comes to the write-offs. You lose one game, you’re usually written off. Lose two, and you’re definitely written off.
And we, in the media, are the ones writing them off. Meaningless games, we’ll say. On our webcast last week, Rick Bozich and I talked about what Louisville could do to salvage its season. I said it needed to win out, but didn’t give the Cards much chance of winning in Tallahassee. And I wasn’t the only one.
That’s a lot of negativity for a bunch of college guys to deal with.
But Louisville dealt with it, and came home with the kind of win I respect probably more than any other – the season-saving, momentum grabbing win. It wasn’t pretty. Louisville still gave up a slew of yards and three offensive touchdowns to a Florida State team that had scored only eight all season coming into the game. And because championships are largely off the table, nobody is really out of their minds cheering the victory. Sign of the times: I got more web hits for a story from the women's basketball tipoff luncheon than I did for writing about the football team's win at Florida State on Saturday.
But the Louisville defense, maligned as it was, made some big plays, got some key turnovers, and tackled Florida State just enough to give the offense a chance.
I asked Petrino on Monday how he dealt with that. I mentioned that especially in college football, we in the media tend to write off a team that has a loss or two – “Wait, you do that?” Petrino asked, smiling.
Guilty. My question was how you keep players from buying into that. They know that a lot of those lofty preseason goals they wrote on the board have now gone by the boards. How do you keep their heads in the game?
Petrino said it’s not as difficult as you might think.
“You talk a lot to them and you try to talk to the leaders,” Petrino said. “One thing about players is they get over losses a lot quicker than coaches do. They're out there enjoying it, having fun and that's something they love to do. So it's a lot easier for a player to put a loss behind them than it is for the coaching staff and the media and whoever else. They really do go out and play to win the game. Whichever game they're in, they go out there to compete. There are times when you lose a number of games in a row where attitude takes the wrong turn, so the main thing we try to do is control the attitude and keep it positive, energetic, focused. And that really showed up with not only the guys on the field, but the guys on the sidelines. I thought we had great help from our sideline and the energy they gave our players.”
Petrino expected nothing less. Nobody probably expected this team to struggle defensively quite as much as it has. Few people expected three losses by Halloween. Nobody expected Boston College to come to Louisville and win.
But one constant for Petrino all season has been that he likes his players. He said he wasn’t surprised at their resilience.
“We've got good guys on this team. I like the guys on this team,” he said. “They've been good, they work hard, they had a great offseason. One of the things you try to talk to them about is things in life don't always go the way you want them to. Every one of us is going to have to handle adversity and hopefully we learned a lesson from it this week, that you handle it with a positive attitude, energy and go attack it.”
On campuses across the nation – and in gymnasiums and playing fields across the U of L campus, where, goodness knows, there’s been plenty of negativity lately – the same scenes are playing out. Guys the rest of us might be writing off show up, work hard, check in on game day and give everything they have, not to win a national championship, but just to win that play, that down, that quarter, that 50-50 ball, that possession.
They may not get any credit hours for it, but if education is experience in enlightenment, then they’re learning something as valuable as anything you can learn in life – how to persist amid difficulty.
Copyright 2017 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.