LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — You don’t need me to list the former University of Louisville football coaches who drove their careers into the thick, unforgiving rough because they were convinced there was a bigger, bolder, better job out there.
Charlie Strong escaped to Texas.
Bobby Petrino sprinted to the Atlanta Falcons.
John L. Smith fell in love with Michigan State.
Howard Schnellenberger held hands with Oklahoma.
Lee Corso took his jokes and gimmicks to Indiana.
Strong — fired by the Longhorns after three seasons.
Petrino — quit the Falcons after 13 games.
Smith — fired after his fourth season, not long after he lost to Indiana.
Schnellenberger — quit before he was fired after one year at Oklahoma.
Corso — fired (although he stayed at Indiana 10 seasons).
I’m not a career counselor, but I believe I can spot a trend there:
Leave Louisville at your own peril. You might make more money. You could compete in a sexier football conference. You could find other reasons to fall in love with another job.
But Louisville is a terrific job with fervent fans who believe that great things can happen here because they have seen great things like major bowl wins and a quarterback who won the Heisman Trophy.
And, I excuse and understand any of them who howled and hissed when The Athletic posted a story Tuesday night that U of L coach Scott Satterfield had an in-person interview scheduled for the opening at South Carolina.
Not true, U of L athletic director Vince Tyra told me Tuesday night as soon as I called him.
Not true, Satterfield said in a statement that he issued more than 90 minutes later.
I believe them. Tyra has been honest, forthcoming and available under often challenging circumstances during his more than two years as the Louisville athletic director.
So has Satterfield. His media interactions here have been overwhelmingly positive. He hasn’t ducked questions. He hasn’t demeaned questioners. His answers to football questions have consistently been thoughtful and informative.
In today’s media world of unnamed sources and social media hype, successful coaches are consistently challenged to deal with stories like this.
… Satterfield would have been better served by squashing this South Carolina story more than a week ago, when his name was was initially connected to the job after the Gamecocks fired Will Muschamp on Nov. 15.
The first notice I saw came from Ralph Russo, the national college football writer from the Associated Press. Russo is a respected reporter, not a hot take/trial balloon guy. Hmmmm.
Social media being social media, Satterfield’s name earned more juice. Why wouldn’t it? Although the Cardinals have struggled this season, Satterfield was named the best coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference last season. His family roots are in Carolina (North, not South but you get the point).
But looking back at Satterfield’s local media availability the day after Muschamp was dismissed, he gave a 149-word answer to a question about the South Carolina job that did nothing to ease the concerns of the Louisville faithful.
Here was his answer:
“I don't have any reaction (to being mentioned as a candidate), we've got a job to do here and I got so much going on here from not only on a daily basis, but an hourly basis that I don't have time to look and worry about anything else going on. My job is to focus on this team and to do everything we can to make them better. We've already talked about on this on this conference call here, all the things that that we got to fix here and I'm not worried about my name getting brought up. I haven't even seen it. I am not even on social media, don't know what's going on out there in the world. I'm focused on this team and doing everything we can to try to find a win, and to try to find our guys and make them make them better players and better men.”
That was not I am committed to Louisville. That wasn’t I am not interested in South Carolina. This wasn’t The End of the story.
Which, of course, explains why it wasn’t surprising when Josh Kendall of The Athletic wrote that a source told him Satterfield had an in-person interview scheduled with the Gamecocks this week.
Naming a coach to a potential list of candidates is one thing. Reporting that a coach had an in-person interview scheduled takes it to another level.
As one public relations person reminded me Tuesday night:
“(I) hope the report is wrong and he’s not interviewing but my experience and yours too is that names don’t just drop out of the sky and into a published report.”
Satterfield’s interest in the South Carolina job was at least enough that Tyra said that he discussed it with his coach twice before Satterfield tweeted out his latest statement Tuesday night.
Granted, there is never an easy or comfortable way for a coach to answer these questions. The primary hole I saw in Satterfield’s statement was that he had never “pursued or sought out offers.”
That can be translated as South Carolina inquired and he listened.
Which is certainly his right.
But, considering the dance that Louisville football fans went through with Strong, Petrino, Smith and Schnellenberger, it is certainly their right to be upset, unsettled and keeping both eyes on this story.
Copyright 2020 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.