LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — I will build a more comprehensive case about why Scott Satterfield should be named the Atlantic Coast Conference football coach of the year - and why his name should be tossed into the discussion for the national award.
But with three weekends remaining in the regular season, I’ll focus on one credential that separates Satterfield from the competition.
At plus-4, Louisville is the most improved Power Five program in the nation.
Better than Oregon State (plus-3). Better than Minnesota, Indiana and Illinois (plus-2).
Better than North Carolina, the program that bypassed Satterfield for Mack Brown and has upgraded from two wins to four.
In the middle of November, Louisville is the Power Five standard at plus-4, with a terrific opportunity to climb from two wins to seven when Syracuse visits Cardinal Stadium and then a reasonable shot to make it to plus-6 against Kentucky.
“I can’t say enough about what (Satterfield, his staff and the players) have done,” U of L athletic director Vince Tyra said. “There is a buy-in across the board.”
I asked Satterfield if he believed that six victories were possible when he first took this group to the practice field last winter.
“No,” he said. “Not in February. When we first got together we knew there was a lot of work that needed to be done …
“… but it’s been a work in progress the whole time and we still are. We’re still fighting and battling every single day to try and improve and get better. Not only as a football team but just in our daily habits. I think that is so huge.”
Here is another nugget that strengthens his case: The Cards’ victory over North Carolina State last Saturday in Raleigh was their fourth payback win against a team that defeated Louisville last season.
To recap: A year ago Louisville lost to Boston College, Wake Forest, Virginia and N.C. State by a combined 105 points. This season, Satterfield’s team has beaten those four programs by a combined 26 points.
Analytics were not my college major, but that appears to be a turnaround of 131 points.
It matters enough that Louisville opened the week favored by 8 1/2 points against a Syracuse team that started this season ranked in the AP Top 25 and defeated U of L by 31 last season.
“I still felt like there was a lot of talent in the room,” Tyra said. “We still hoped to be in the bowl hunt.”
You know how it works in this Hurry Up Society. Every time Satterfield hangs another win, somebody will speculate that Satterfield will be on the short list for the next great job opening.
The only one that qualifies as a better opportunity today might be Florida State. Rutgers is not better. Neither is Arkansas.
A writer who covers Miami approached me in the press box at Hard Rock Stadium during the U of L-Miami game and said that he was told Florida State was interested in Satterfield.
Who could blame the Seminoles for wanting to take a look?
Anybody who has observed the tremendous work Satterfield has done with the mess he inherited would understand the reasoning surrounding that rumor.
But Satterfield does not have the pedigree of a job chaser. He’s just getting warmed up here.
Satterfield has an athletic director who invested in him and will always be determined to drive the program into a position to challenge Clemson. Tyra has kept Dan McDonnell (baseball) and Jeff Walz (women’s basketball) on board. Those were talented coaches hired by the previous administration.
Satterfield was Tyra’s discovery and recruit, the guy he went to after Jeff Brohm decided to remain at Purdue. Tyra will not lose Satterfield after one season, not that I believe Satterfield wants to leave.
Tyra said that no athletic director has asked for permission to talk to Satterfield. He said he would not be surprised if he received a request.
“I think that’s going to happen all the time,” Tyra said.
As nice as 6-4 has been and as remarkable as 8-4 would be, this is a coach who built an 11-2 team that won a league championship at Appalachian State. He is determined to get his guys and build his program.
Any thoughts on a contract extension?
“I don’t look at that,” he said. “I don’t worry about that. I’m just trying to be good today.”
He was also asked about interest from other programs.
“No,” he said. “Again, I just think about what I can do to help this team. It’s all Syracuse and what we can do to try to move the ball. It’s all we care about right now.”
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