LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- I know, it's just a stupid commercial. But if you've followed Louisville football like I have, since the pre-Howard Schnellenberger days, you have to watch it a few times to let it sink in.
The ESPN-Nissan "Heisman House" commercial series now has the University of Louisville settling in comfortably beside Oklahoma, Florida, Alabama and other storied programs, thanks to Lamar Jackson's first appearance in the franchise.
Suffice it to say, and many of us have said it many times, this is an address we never saw Louisville football taking up residence in.
Lamar rolls up in front of the "Heisman House" that has been neglected, presumably after the long offseason months of COVID uncertainty. He encounters Tim Tebow in a similar state of quarantine disrepair. And the occupants go to work.
There's Jackson helping clean, but not only Jackson, but Louisville's Cardinal mascot.
For the Louisville football program, to have that kind of brand-name exposure in college football is pretty heady stuff.
We're talking about a program that in the early 1980s was on life support. It played in a baseball stadium. It played in off-brand conferences on every night of the week. It was the subject of derision by a Southeastern Conference in-state rival and was viewed as a wannabe on the national stage.
It took contributions over decades for Louisville to climb a ladder, and it got no favors and very little outside help over those years. Coaches like Schnellenberger, John L. Smith, Bobby Petrino and Charlie Strong each built onto the foundations. Bill Olsen saved the sport at Louisville and revived it. Tom Jurich turned it into a national name and earned it a seat in a Power 5 Conference. Vince Tyra hired Scott Satterfield and set a course moving forward.
But in the end, just how much Lamar Jackson changed the face of Louisville football -- even without a BCS bowl victory to his credit, should never be underestimated.
Yes, it's just a silly commercial. But for Louisville, it represents a great deal of hard work. And it represents an unforgettable talent, who keeps paying dividends for the school that gave him a chance.
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