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Louisville 2010 Media Guide Now Available – Thoughts

The 2010 Louisville Football Media Guide is now available. You can read the entire thing in .pdf format. Most of these media guides are fluff and filler. For the average football junkie like myself, all I’m ever concerned about is the roster, depth chart, and the biographical information on the coaches. That being said, when looking over the sections on the 2010 signees, roster and post-spring depth chart, I noticed the following things:

1. Players that are officially gone. The media guide lists, on page 41, the lettermen from last year’s team that are now lost. In addition to the seniors lost, the Cardinals lost four other players: CB Karldell Dunning, TE Rock Keys, LB Horace Miller and DT Joe Townsend. None of the losses is crippling, however, the Cardinals could have used the additional upperclassmen in Dunning and Townsend on the defense. With highly rated defensive tackle DeAntre Rhodes not qualifying, the loss of Townsend means it is even less likely that any of the defensive linemen will have the luxury of redshirting this year.

2. The depth chart is meaningless. I can say this because the positions and placement of the players is not even consistent between roster and position.

  • With Rhodes and Townsend both not being on the team in the fall, there simply is no realistic way that Brandon Dunn is going to play defensive end. Yet, he is listed on the post-spring depth chart as the third string defensive end. On the roster, he is listed as a “defensive lineman”.
  • BJ Butler is listed as a linebacker, but I will eat my hat if he plays a down at linebacker. Butler will be a pas rushing beast at defensive end. Later in the written out prognosis of the coming season, Butler is again stated be a defensive lineman who will have a chance to play early.
  • Jamaine Brooks is also listed a “defensive lineman” on the roster, but, as the third string nose tackle on the post spring depth chart. Why the athletic department chose to do this is beyond me. There is simply no way that Brooks is going to be anything other than a defensive tackle. Why not list him as such?
  • Neither superstar Demar Dorsey nor noteworthy linebacker transfer from USC Jordan Campbell are anywhere to be found in the media guide. It may simply be a case of their joining the team too late, but who can be sure? The media guide is devoid of references to DeAntre Rhodes and his status as a non-qualifier wasn’t known until just two or three weeks ago and that was after the Campbell and Dorsey news broke.
  • The roster lists Conrad Thomas at 345 lbs. This is simply not correct since Thomas has been one of the more noteworthy physical transformations in the off-season program led by coach Pat Moorer. The roster on UofLSports.com lists Thomas at 315.
  • The post-spring depth chart lists Champ Lee as the starting corner across from senior Johnny Patrick. This is simply not the case. Champ Lee isn’t going to play corner, he never practiced a down at corner in the spring and, like Butler, I’ll eat my hat again if Champ Lee plays anything other than free safety along with fellow redshirt freshman Hakeem Smith.
  • Patrick Grant is listed on the roster as a tight end (which would be a position change for him). Yet, in discussing defensive line depth, he too is listed at his normal defensive end position.
  • In the 2010 prognosis, Byron Stingily is said to be “in the mix” at one of the tackle spots, but, in the post-spring depth chart he is listed as the starter at left tackle. Stingily sat out spring practice with an injury and was often penalized in 2009. I have a hard time imagining he will supplant Adams or Tomczyk at either tackle position.
  • Shenard Holton is listed as a starter at free safety. Shenard Holton has never played and will never play free safety for Louisville. Holton is a strong safety. He played there last year and practiced there for the entire spring.

3. Luke Woodley is not coming. The media guide is bereft of references to quarterback signee Luke Woodley from Texas. Woodley signed with Louisville in January, enrolled in January, got sick, fell behind, and promptly left just prior to spring practice beginning. We won’t see him at Louisville.

4. Josh Chichester is really going to be a tight end this fall. I think that could really work out for him and for the offense. Chichester is incredibly tall (6’8) and weighing 240 lbs, he doesn’t have top end speed. If the coaching staff intends to use him at TE, I fully expect them to model his role after what Florida did with Cornelius Ingram. Ingram was a big, tall quarterback who the coaches at Florida moved to tight end for his last two seasons. Ingram was a terror when lined up inside. His height and size made him a mismatch for safeties and his speed was a mismatch for linebackers. Chichester is capable of doing that same thing in this offense.

5. The Cardinals have a whopping eight senior offensive linemen. Of all of the areas that this team was mismanaged by the previous coaching staff, the offensive and defensive lines are easily the top two. How any program can be expected to survive the loss of eight senior linemen is beyond me. It only highlights how bad the drought of high school linemen under Kragthorpe was. The Cardinals relied too much on junior college players while missing out on virtually all of their prominent high school targets. They’ll be forced to pay the piper in 2011 when the roster contains fewer than 10 offensive linemen.

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The Collision Course on AM 1350 and Other News…

First, a big thank you to Haven Harrington and Main Event Sports for having me on yesterday for the entire hour to discuss new Louisville head coach Charlie Strong, recruiting, the upcoming season and the future of Cardinals football. This was a major opportunity for me and the blog to get some exposure and the professional folks at AM 1350 made it a fantastic experience for me and I hope for their listeners. If you don’t already, please be sure to tune into Main Event Sports every Saturday from 6:00-7:00 for a discussion of local sports news. When a link to the podcast is available I’ll post it. Here’s hoping for future opportunities to talk Cardinal football on the radio in the future.

Second, Keith Niebuhr of Florida’s Rivals.com site took a series of pictures around Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and posted them to Twitter. Of particular note is a display of the Florida coaches over the years. See if anyone on there looks familiar:

He might be hard to make out in the picture, but in the bottom right hands side is none other than Louisville head coach Charlie Strong. Strong was officially Florida’s interim head coach for one game after the firing of Ron Zook in 2004. Strong coached Florida in the Peach Bowl (a loss to Miami).

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Double Dose of Good News on the Recruiting Trail

Charlie Strong continues to have success on the recruiting trail. Today, another piece was added as Memphis, TN offensive lineman Ryan Mack (6’6, 315 lbs.) committed to the Cardinals and coach Strong while on campus for a visit. Mack is rated as a three-star prospect by both Rivals.com and Scout.com and had offers from in-state rival Kentucky, Memphis, and Southern Miss. Mack’s size and mobility impressed the coaches at one of Charlie Strong’s football camps in June. With a whopping eight senior offensive linemen on the roster, replenishing the offensive line is the top priority for Strong. In February, Louisville signed two offensive linemen (Jake Smith and Chris Acosta) and will welcome two more as greyshirt candidates in January (Zachary Hundertmark and Chase Petersen). For the class of 2011, Mack and Port St. Lucie, FL prospect Mike Romano are the only offensive line commitments. Look for Louisville to sign at least five offensive linemen in the class of 2011. Mack is Louisville’s 14th commitment for the class of 2011.

The second piece of good news comes from the Louisville Courier-Journal regarding local standout quarterback prospect Damarcus Smith. Smith, who is verbally committed to Louisville, has been invited to participate in the national ESPN Rise Elite 11 quarterback camp. It’s quite an honor for Smith who also impressed scouts with his throwing at a regional Elite 11 camp in Alabama. But that’s not the news. The news is that Smith told the Courier-Journal’s Jason Frakes that he is on track to graduate in January and enroll at Louisville in the spring. This would allow Smith to go through spring practice with the team and participate in all summer strength and conditioning activities prior to his freshman season in the fall of 2011.

Early enrolling would be a tremendous benefit for Smith and the Cardinals as it now appears less and less likely that prized quarterback Dominique Brown will academically qualify this year. Brown not qualifying would leave Louisville with freshman Marcus Smith and walk-on Will Stein at quarterback for next year. Having Damarcus Smith on campus a full 8 months earlier may very well give him the opportunity to start as a freshman. Recently, several prominent quarterbacks have graduated early and benefited from an additional spring practice including Tim Tebow and when Charlie Strong was still on the staff at Florida.

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Louisville Needs a Strong Dose of Stability

Since the day Steve Kragthorpe was fired as head coach at Louisville, fans, rivals, and pundits have debated and discussed just what it is that Louisville football needs to do or needs to have happen for it to both recover what was lost in the dreadful three years of Kragthorpe and achieve even greater success in the future. Some of the answers are automatic: great coaching, recruiting, facilities, even luck. But those things are true of any football program at any time be it building, rebuilding, or maintaining. Louisville has had it’s share of each of those at times and has flourished when enjoying them simultaneous (think of the coaching of Bobby Petrino and luck of having two recruits the stature of Michael Bush and Brian Brohm in your own back yard). Despite having enjoyed some level of success, the answer for Louisville is even more mundane than any of those things. What Louisville needs right now is what every perennially successful program has had at one time or another: a period of successful stability.

What Is Successful Stability?
By successful stability, I mean a period of a decade or longer where the football program is characterized by the following things (the stadium bullet may be debatable in some instances):
  • A coach who stays for longer than a decade.
  • A coach who wins consistently in that decade or longer time frame.
  • Games that are played in the same stadium for that period of “successful stability”.
  • A schedule that contains substantially the same teams every year with obvious exceptions annually (you can include in this a clear and stable conference affiliation)

While all of these characteristics are self-evident, it’s important to recognize that no program that has risen to the upper echelon of college football has done so without an easily identifiable period where the program was both successful and stable. Conversely, there are no examples of programs that consistently win with no continuity (especially at the head coaching position). The period of stable success, then, lays a foundation, a new and elevated baseline below which it is highly unlikely to fall for any substantial period of time.

Historical Examples

If you were to rattle off a list of the the greatest programs in the history of college football, it would be easy to identify that period of successful stability that ultimately defines the program. For instance

  • Ohio State under Woody Hayes (1951-1978). Record 205-61-10. All in the Big Ten against the same opponents in the same stadium that has only expanded.
  • Oklahoma under Bud Wilkinson (1944-1963). Record 145-29-4. All Big Eight and later Big XII opponents in the same stadium since 1923.
  • Michigan under Bo Schembechler (1969-1989). Record 194-48-5. All in the Big Ten against the same opponents in the same stadium since 1927.
  • Alabama under Bear Bryant (1958-1982). Record 232-46-9. All in the Southeastern Conference alternating between Legion Field and Bryant Denny Stadium which opened in 1929.

There are plenty of other examples that you could cite from other historically great programs like Notre Dame, Penn State, Texas, or USC, etc. They all have these same characteristics.

Recent Examples

Examples of successful stability don’t reside only in the past. In the past 25-30 years, as the profitability and popularity of college football has grown, new programs have begun winning to a degree previously unknown in the school’s history. Even in these more recent there is always the same identifiable period of successful stability that serves as the springboard. Two noticeable differences the rise of the more recent powers: the landmark coach’s tenure is shorter but still longer than a decade and there are the first signs of conference joining/switching:

  • Florida State under Bobby Bowden (1976-2009). Record 304-97-4. All in Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee which grew from a raw outdoor stadium to an 80,000+ seat complex under his leadership. Moved from an independent to the ACC in 1992.
  • Florida under Steve Spurrier (1990-2001). Record 122-27-1. All in the SEC and in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
  • Virginia Tech under Frank Beamer (1987-present). Record 187-92-2. All in Lane Stadium which opened in 1965 but as an independent, Big East member, and ACC member.
  • West Virginia under Don Nehlen (1980-2000). Record 149-93-4. All played in the same stadium. From 1980-1991 as an independent. From 1991-present in the Big East.

The lone exception to this basic formula that I have been able to locate is the Miami Hurricanes. Miami has won five national championships since 1980 despite not having a single coach in that time who stayed for more than six seasons. Perhaps the situation in Miami is deserving of a separate blog entry. Suffice it to say the above average abundance of talent available in such close proximity might explain why the Hurricanes have been able to win quickly under persistent coaching changes. But, Miami has also had several losing seasons in this same time frames. Combine that with the move from the historic Orange Bowl to a less identifiable NFL stadium in Miami and it becomes a larger question if Miami can continue to win with such constant coaching turnover.

Historical Perspective on Louisville

Louisville has never had this period of successful stability. This fact alone explains why Louisville has struggled to maintain capacity attendance in losing seasons (the attendance dips everywhere when the team is losing, anyone that maintains otherwise is being naive or dishonest), but the attendance dips under Steve Kragthorpe (and previously under Ron Cooper in the late 1990s) are evidence of a fan base that’s new and inexperienced at supporting a big time college football program like those mentioned above.

If you take a look at the specifics of Louisville football in the same time frame as the more recent rising powers listed above, it is simultaneously heartening to see some of the similarities and alarming to note some of the contrasts. But, it is the contrasts that explain everything. Consider the sobering facts about Louisville football Bob Weber was hired as coach in 1980:

  • Only two of the seven head coaches since 1980 have ended their Louisville tenure with a winning record (John L. Smith was 41-21 and Bobby Petrino was 41-9). Even Howard Schnellenberger, who did so much to build the program in his 10 seasons at the helm left with a 54-56-2 record.
  • Louisville did not join its first I-A conference until 1996 (Conference USA). Since 1980 Louisville’s been an independent, a member of Conference USA, and a member of the Big East. This movement between independent status and the two changes of conferences have made it nearly impossible to maintain constant opponents. The schedule in 1980 was very different from the schedule in 1990, 2000 or even 2010. There is little to no historical schedule continuity to build a football tradition on.
  • Louisville’s most fierce annual football rivalry, Kentucky, has only been a consistent annual opponent since 1994.
  • Louisville has played its games in a minor league baseball stadium before crowds of 5,000 or less, a new on-campus football stadium holding 42,000, and now in 2010 will play in an expanded stadium that holds approximately 57,000. It is only now beginning to have the opportunity to develop an attachment and association of the venue itself with the team and with the success of the team.
  • The average tenure of a Louisville coach, since World War II (1946-present) has been 5.8 years. A number that is heavily skewed by Frank Camp’s 23 seasons as coach from 1946-1968. Removing Camp’s numbers, Louisville has had nine head coaches in a 40 year period. Than averages out to less than four years per coach since 1969. The constant turnover has kept the program from ever gaining traction and building something truly sustainable.

Successful Stability at Louisville Now?

Louisville fans should be hoping, above all else, that new head coach Charlie Strong stays at Louisville for well above the average stay of recent coaches. Coaches leave Louisville. It’s the sad story of the program. As obvious as it sounds, the winning coaches leave for bigger and better opportunities (this was the case dating all the way back to Lee Corso in 1972) and the losing coaches are fired (Ron Cooper or Steve Kragthorpe most recently). Louisville desperately needs Charlie Strong to be the cornerstone of long and lasting success. That means they need him to win games at a high level (8+ wins per year after the requisite rebuilding time needed to repair the Kragthorpe damage) and they need him to stay for that seemingly magical decade or longer period of time.

Is it reasonable to hope Charlie Strong hangs around where Petrino and Smith bolted before? It’s more reasonable than it has ever been in Louisville’s history. The football program has access to more resources than it has ever had in times past. Those resources include an enhanced revenue stream from the expanded stadium which is almost entirely sold out, the recruiting and television advantages of being in a BCS automatic qualifying conference, and facilities that are easily in the top 10% in the nation. None of those things were true in 2002 or 2006 when Smith and Petrino left for other jobs.

A second factor in Louisville’s favor is Charlie Strong himself. First, Charlie showed his emotional attachment to this, his first opportunity to become a head coach, and it seems that the long and painful wait has removed the temptation to be a coach solely looking to jump the next big thing. He even made mention of the fact that he and his wife bought a large home here and that he hoped fans would see that purchase as proof that he wanted to stay here long term. Second, Charlie is personally attached to this area. He’s been friends with athletic director Tom Jurich for over a decade and has a long friendship with prominent breeders associated with Churchill Downs. So he has roots and attachments to the area. Third, Charlie is 49 years old. If he were to have five good seasons as Louisville’s head coach, at 55 years of age, would he want to uproot to take over a bigger job? While there are always jobs that no coach will turn down (say Urban Meyer leaves Florida in five years) who would blame Strong for leaving? But, at 55, it seems equally likely that Strong would stay and build a legacy. Fourth, Charlie has said that through the frustrations of not getting the jobs he wanted previously, he felt there were racial components that he could not overcome. But, he has steadfastly maintained that rather than being an outspoken critic or lobbyist for other black coaches, he feels his duty is to be the absolute best coach and build the absolute program he can build so that he can both set an example and give other young black coaches opportunities on his staff. That mindset is more indicative of a man focused on laying a foundation and building a legacy than simply climbing the coaching ladder.

If all of that is the case, Louisville may finally have that critical piece that has eluded it for decades. A stable and successful period under the same leadership that propels the program forward to previous unreached heights. All Charlie has to do is win.

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The Long, Hot Days of Summer

Those hopelessly addicted to college football find July to be the absolute worst month of the year. No college football anywhere near in sight, national signing day is in the distance, and the worst part is if your team shows up in the headlines now it is guaranteed to be bad news (see the slew of arrests at Georgia and Tennessee for a reminder that only bad news happens for college football programs in July). Nevertheless, we press on knowing that in roughly three weeks teams will be practicing, the lingering questions over which recruit will or won’t qualify will be answered, and then thankfully there will be actual news to report instead of mere projections and predictions. So hang in there, Cardinals fans. We’re less than two months from kickoff in an expanded Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium against Kentucky and what we all hope will be a return to the quality football we knew the decade prior to Steve Kragthorpe’s disastrous three seasons at the helm.

Some things to keep an eye on as we head toward fall camp:

  • Almost all of Louisville’s 2010 recruiting class will be in school starting this week. They’ll take a summer class or two, workout with the team, and get a month’s jump on the transition to college. Using UofL e-mail and various social media outlets, there are only lingering questions about the qualification/arrival or QB Dominique Brown, DT DeAntre Rhodes, and late signee Demar Dorsey. Dorsey just Tweeted tonight that the Louisville admissions department gave him tasks to perform before admitting him and that he was committed to performing those tasks and being on the team come fall. Rhodes and Brown remain a mystery but there’s still time I suppose.
  • C.L. Brown recently wrote in The Courier-Journal on Louisville’s unsettled QB situation heading into fall. If it’s true that “if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have a quarterback”, then the Cardinals are in trouble since they have three QBs who started games in 2009. The good news is, they all got experience in crucial games, the bad news is none of them were particularly effective when they did. Coach Strong has said he’d like to name a starter before the team enters fall camp so keep an eye out for an announcement at any time. After watching Justin Burke, Adam Froman, and Will Stein in person at spring practice, my money’s on Froman winning the job because he presents the biggest threat with his legs which will be a key component of a Mike Sanford offense.
  • It now seems unlikely that any other USC players will transfer to Louisville. There were swirling rumors that an additional player would be coming with linebacker Jordan Campbell. Now it appears Campbell will be the only one but he’s a big one.
  • Scout.com has the early football classes of 2011 ranked. Louisville’s class is currently ranked #25. The turnaround on the recruiting trail has thus far been nothing short of miraculous. Look for more good news in the very near future from TN offensive lineman Ryan Mack. Mack performed will at Louisville’s camp in June and has told the coaches when he comes back on a visit with his family this weekend he will commit. If so, it’d give Louisville another coveted big body for the offensive line to go with Mike Romano out of Florida.
  • We’ll have a collaborative piece with The BullGator blog concerning new Big East head coaches Charlie Strong and Skip Holtz some time this week. If you want to keep up with the Bulls, The BullGator is a fantastic source and one you’ll want to check daily.
  • In the near future you might see a slight change in the layout of the blog. This is due to my being picked up by the Bloguin network which hosts several of my favorite college football blogs like In the Bleachers, Blatant Homerism, and MizzouRAH. I’m excited about the chance to keep writing but in a more organized network with people I’ve come to know and respect. The Collision Course has a bright future for a blog that has only just begun to write.
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Thoughts on The 2010 Cardinal Roster – Now Including Freshmen

The 2010 Louisville football roster is now available. The roster includes the 2010 signees, most of which are already on campus to begin taking classes in the 3rd summer session. A player’s inclusion on the roster doesn’t mean they’ve necessarily qualified. There are a number of observations and questions I have after looking at the roster.

  • The physical transformation of some of the players is impressive, and is a testament to the work of players themselves and the strength and conditioning staff as well. Daniel Brown came to Louisville at 196 and projected as a strong safety. He’s now bulked up to 219 and has a good future at outside linebacker. RS FR running back Jeremy Wright has bulked up from 185 to 199. Mario Benavides has gone from 290 to 305 at center. The most heralded of changes belongs to a pair of linemen: RG Conrad Thomas has gone from 345 to 315 and DT Tim High has gone from 345 at his arrival to 298. We’ve heard the reports that all of the players appear to have truly bought into the new coaching staff and the off-season conditioning program and it would appear from some of these changes that such is the case.
  • Josh Chichester is listed at 6’8 and 240 lbs and is now listed as a TE. I predicted this move in the spring and it appears to have come to pass. Chichester doesn’t have top end speed, but he is a terrible mismatch for linebackers. The Florida version of the spread offense has used TEs like Aaron Hernandez and before him Cornelius Ingram in creative ways. Chichester’s big enough and will help in that capacity. The move also clears the way for some of the speedy freshmen WR signees to see the field right away.
  • I am concerned to see that Greg Scruggs is going to try and play defensive tackle at 269 lbs. I know the goal is to get him up field and use his relative speed on stunts, but, with a schedule that features teams that will run the ball like Kentucky, Pitt, West Virginia, and UConn, I fear Scruggs getting moved off the ball. I hope they prove me wrong on that.
  • The Cardinals signed 6 WRs in February. Five talented freshmen and junior college standout Josh Bellamy. Of the 6, only 2 are under 6 feet tall (Jarrett Davis and Kai Dominguez are both 5’9).
  • After struggling to sign defensive linemen of any noteworthy size, the 2010 signees will finally bring some beef to the defensive line. At defensive tackle, DeAntre Rhodes is listed at 280, Jamaine Brooks at 328, and Brandon Dunn at 282. The Cardinals sorely needed all three big bodies. at defensive end, BJ Butler is listed at 264 and Lacy Coleman at 230. Coleman is long and could easily (eventually) carry 250 on his 6’4 frame.
  • I was pleasantly surprised to see both running back signees Kamal Hogan and Corvin Lamb listed above 200 lbs. I knew Hogan was a good sized back, but I was under the impression that Lamb was more of a scatback type. At 200+ lbs, both will be options running inside and out in space in Louisville’s spread option offense.
  • QB Luke Woodley, who signed in January and then left after a day of spring practice, is not on the roster thus cementing the fact that he won’t be joining the team. On the other hand, Marcus Smith who was listed as an “athlete” on signing day, is listed as a very big 234 lb quarterback. With the sudden fears surrounding Dominque Brown’s qualifying, Smith may be forced into service sooner than anyone expected.
  • I’ve been told that offensive linemen Chase Petersen and Zachary Hundertmark and TE Dylan Curry were on campus already even though they were supposed to greyshirt and join the team in January. That might be the case, but they’re not showing on the roster at this time.
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Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium Expansion Pics – 7/4/2010

This morning I hiked it up to Papa John’s and took some pictures of the stadium expansion work. Obviously since it’s both Sunday and July 4th, no one is working today, so I was able to get around and get some fairly good pictures of the terrace connecting the east and west sides of the stadium as well as the hedges that have been planted in the end zone and the major expansion addition on the east side.

It looks like about 90% of the upper deck seats have now been installed. The south end zone scoreboard is now in place and the loge seating is pretty much installed.

Note: please forgive me for the 1/1/2008 date on the timestamp on the pictures. I just never take the time to update my silly camera. Enjoy!

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Cardinal Headlines – 6/29/2010

Louisville received its 13th commitment for the football class of 2011 today. LB Eddie Johnson now of Atlanta, GA committed to Charlie Strong and staff today. Johnson recently relocated from Alabama to Georgia and will play for North Atlanta High School this fall. Johnson is a relatively late arrival on the recruiting scene but did grab attention and was named one of the top 10 “sleepers” at the Tuscaloosa Nike Camp held earlier this summer.

Another commitment for the class of 2011, Seneca High School QB DaMarcus Smith, recently told Scout.com that he has been selected to participate in the Elite 11 QB camp (subscription required for link). Every year the camp invites between 10 and 12 QBs to Mission Viejo, CA to participate in various passing drills and individual competitions. In the past, the camp has been a “who’s who” of superstar recruits including Jacory Harris, Tim Tebow, and Jimmy Clausen among many others. Smith already made a tremendous impression at the recent regional Elite 11 camp held in Tuscaloosa, AL.

Brett McMurphy of AOL FanHouse have put together a fascinating article comparing the spending on football at all of the BCS programs. Of note in the various tables McMurphy provides is that Louisville spends one of the lowest amounts both in the Big East and in all of the BCS leagues spending a thrifty $11.53 million on football for the 2009 season. Cardinal fans will find this interesting considering the school was just pronounced the most profitable college basketball program in America. Some of the spending numbers of other major programs are staggering. The biggest spender, Ohio State, spending more on its football program ($32.3 million) than Louisville spends on football and basketball combined ($20.15 million). Seeing some of the astronomical numbers spent on football clarifies why virtually everyone is in a scramble to maximize television money through conference expansion.

There are persistent rumors both on Louisville and USC message boards that an additional transfer from USC could be coming to join the Cardinals for the 2010 season. The rumors are concentrated on cornerback T.J. Bryant. Bryant is a former 4-star prospect from Tallahassee’s Leon High School who signed with USC in 2008. Charlie Strong recruited Bryant for Florida at the time and it is thought this relationship would help should Bryant be looking to leave USC now that NCAA sanctions allow him to transfer without having to sit out a season. Keep a close watch on this one. Should Bryant transfer to Louisville, he, like teammate Jordan Campbell, would provide yet another instant infusion of talent and speed to a defensive secondary scrambling for both after the three year tenure of Steve Kragthorpe.

The final summer session for the University of Louisville begins shortly after the July 4th holiday. This is important for football because Coach Strong will be hoping that all of the signees from February’s recruiting class will be cleared to play and enroll for the final summer session. This extra month gives the players a chance to knock out a class or two, work out and lift with the team, and get acclimated to college life before heading into fall camp the first week in August. With such a critical opener (Kentucky), Strong will be counting on having as many of the freshmen as possible on campus for July. Also, seeing who is not enrolled often provides a glimpse into who might have their eligibility still undecided. Stay tuned as we see different kids in campus we’ll confirm who has made it and who we might need to sweat. Keep in mind, however, that just because a kid doesn’t arrive for the July summer session doesn’t mean he won’t be qualified to play in the fall.

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Cardinal Headlines – 6/27/2010

Charlie Strong recently participated in the Kentucky Football Coaches Association Football Clinic at Centre College (Cardinal fans will remember that this is the clinic that Steve Kragthorpe was a no-show for in 2009). While there, he sat down with Larry Vaught and answered questions about football and recruiting in the state of Kentucky. Cardinal fans will find some of his answers interesting if for no other reason than they once again provide a stark contrast to the recruiting practices of the previous staff who struggled to ever attract the top talent in the state. Coach Strong tells Vaught that recruiting the best local kids will be critical to the program’s success, that meeting all of the local coaches was one of the first things he did upon being hired, and that the rivalry with Kentucky won’t put a strain on his friendship with new Kentucky coach Joker Phillips.

Jordan Campbell spoke to Pedro Moura of ESPN about his transfer from USC to Louisville and had extremely positive things to say about Cardinal head coach Charlie Strong. Campbell tells Moura that coach Strong is a very “wise” and “smart” man who “knows exactly what he wants to.” Also of note, Campbell says he believes he will start at one linebacker spot. Campbell will enroll at Louisville in July for the last summer session and be eligible to play this fall.

Charlie Strong is also reaching out to former players and bringing them back into the football program. ESPN’s Brian Bennett sat down with former Cardinal QB Stefan Lefors and talked about his new role as an academic specialist helping tutor current Cardinal players and helping them chart their academic progress toward graduation. Lefors says he’s dreaming big either in getting into coaching or perhaps one day becoming an athletic director.

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