LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – It won’t be like old times, but it’ll be more like old times than anything lately for the Louisville football program.
ESPN’s College GameDay will visit campus for the third time in four years when the Cardinals carry their new No. 18 ranking in the Associated Press poll into a 7:30 p.m. ACC opener against No. 17 Miami at Cardinal Stadium.
It will be the third trip to Louisville for ESPN’s flagship college football program, and both prior trips were meaningful.
GameDay was here for the birth of Lamar Jackson’s run to the Heisman in a 63-20 rout of Florida State in 2016. And it was here for the death of his bid for a second Heisman in a 47-21 loss to Clemson on Sept. 16 a year later.
The guest picker in that game was then-basketball coach Rick Pitino. He walked down the steps of the Grawemeyer Hall administration building, slapping hands with fans and students. Ten days later, the FBI unveiled its investigation into college basketball corruption and Pitino was all but gone.
Let’s just say it has been a rough patch since then. Louisville didn’t achieve what it should have with Jackson in his final season. Basketball was in for a major overhaul that still hasn’t completely been accomplished – the school’s response to that NCAA Notice of Allegations is due soon, in fact.
And football, after Jackson left, fell off the map. Coach Bobby Petrino didn’t last even one season post-Lamar.
Now, just one game into Satterfield’s second season, the Cardinals are back on the radar, poking into the AP Top 25 far sooner than anyone would’ve picked – even if the college football field is watered down in the absence of the Big Ten and Pac 12.
The College GameDay experience, too, will be watered down, without fans in attendance. But the show will go on – and Louisville football has exhibited a measure of resilience far greater than any predicted when Satterfield arrived.
The next two weeks will be s big test – two straight ranked opponents. But the progress Satterfield has made at Louisville is unmistakable, and the opportunity for much more lies just ahead.
But don't expect much in the way of verbal hype from the Louisville players this week, if quarterback Micale Cunningham is any indication. Asked after Saturday's win over WKU about GameDay coming, he said, "No, it doesn’t mean anything to me, it’s just another football game. We’re happy for those guys to be here, but we’re worried about our opponent, not GameDay.”
Louisville players still remember last season's 52-27 loss at Miami.
“It’s another game on our schedule and we call it ‘ring’ games around here," Cunningham said. "It’s a good game and those guys put it on us last year. They are coming to our house and we’re looking to defend our house.”
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