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In Praise of Steve Kragthorpe

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Most people who know me know one truth that is almost always the case about my opinions. I tend to enjoy going against the mainstream. When everyone else says I hate Steve Spurrier, I find some good in the guy. When others are telling me Lil Wayne’s a genius, I hear absurd drivel and see tattoos that are beyond reason. Anyone can ride on top of the waves, but it takes a man to look the wave in the face and potentially get knocked down. So with that as a backdrop, I rise today to defend Steve Kragthorpe, arguably the worst coach since the invention of the forward pass.

Think back just a minute UK fans to the days before the 2007 UK-UL game. It was a simpler time. We had a President who was from Texas, a basketball coach who was forom Texas and I dated a girl who was from Texas. At that time, Texas was all the rage and in that cloudied state of confusion, the Louisville Cardinals were coming into Commonwealth for one of the biggest games in recent memory. Kentucky was potentially very good…we had the Apostrophe, Keenan and Rafy as potential weapons. But Louisville looked to be a team on a mission. Most of the best players from an Orange Bowl team were back and the Louisville fans’ spin (which I used to hear daily on the radio) was now they had a true COACH, who could take the players from the previous regime and mold them into a national champion. Louisville fans were making the claim (with a straight face) that they were now a top 10 program and it would only be a couple of years until they were mentioned in the same breath as Florida, Texas and USC. It was a heady time for our little brothers.

But then, Stevie got Loose, Kentucky got a victory and Louisville officially got Kragthorped. The dramatic fall over the last two years has been astounding. Under Kragthorpe, UL has gone from a program with national relevance to a team that takes a deep sigh of relief when Indiana State (losers of 51 of 52 in I-AA) has to punt. The Cards saw a Quarterback that some thought could win the Heisman, get picked outside of the first round and now is out of the league. The talent level has decreased exponentially and only continues to get worse. Whereas just a couple of years ago, 6 Cards were taken in the NFL Draft, now only a couple are contenders for the UFL Draft. Recruiting has gone from attempting to take top kids from Florida, to hoping to beat MTSU and Western for second tier kids in Kentucky. And the fans…oh the poor fans. Whereas they once used to crow about being a new program for a new generation, now the only debate is whether they should fire their coach after the Kentucky game or at the end of the season. The same people who talked of Jurich making the Card football program “the jewel of the Big East”, now are waiting for basketball season and hoping that Porcini’s signs dont dominate every arena they attend. It truly is a sad state.

And what is the cause of this change? Oh some will say it is the players that Petrino left behind, bad luck in a couple of games, or a natural coming back to earth after a couple of heady years. But we all know what is really at the heart of this movement….the brilliance of Steve Kragthorpe. As if created by the most die-hard UK fan in Manchester, Kentucky, Kragthorpe has come in and taken down the Cardinal program from the inside. Whereas UK fans can throw shots, buy billboards or write blog posts only so much, we can never do the damage that an infilitrated spy can. And that is why we must praise Steve Kragthorpe. Louisville football looked like it could be a worry that we would have to deal with for years to come. But now they are simply the guys up the road in Red, who are hoping Syracuse is down this year so they can steal a victory. Thats all Steve Kragthorpe, and it truly is magical to behold.

All programs make coaching mistakes. Heck, the Billy Clyde years will not be given their own special wing in the Craft Center anytime soon. But rarely is a coach able to dismantle a program so thoroughly in two years that it doesnt even seem like the same entity. Steve Kragthorpe has done it, and it is a pleasure to behold. So as we get ready for Saturday, make all the “Crapthorpe” jokes you want to your Louisville friends. I am going against the grain. You make fun of Steve, I will praise him. His football prowess, or specifically the lack thereof, has made my life much happier and my football fanhood much more complete. Go get em’ Steve Kragthorpe and I hope you retain the job for man years to come!

Article written by Matt Jones