Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Louisville Athletics run may not be over

The Louisville Cardinals Athletic department oversaw a tremendous run of accomplishments during the 2012-13 school year.  The Cardinals won 8 conference championships, highlighted by Football, Men's Basketball, and Baseball.  However, it's what the Cardinals did in the post season that made the Louisville sports season so remarkable.  And this may be just the beginning...

You could sense the 12-13 sports year could be a good one last summer.  The football team had assembled a ton of talent under Charlie Strong and although they finished 2011 with a 7-6 record and a bowl loss to NC State, you got the feeling that the program was headed in the right direction.  The baseball team lost in the Tucson, AZ regional, but the Arizona team that elimated the Cardinals was the eventual national champion.

The men's basketball team was inching closer and closer to a national title, reaching the Final 4 in 10-11 before falling to rival and champion Kentucky.  The women's team bowed out in the 2nd round to Maryland, but the young squad played the Terps close and was certainly bound for bigger and better things.

When midnight struck to bring in 2013, things had begun to roll.  The football team was preparing for the Orange Bowl, men's basketball had just knocked off Kentucky, and all signs pointed towards great things during the 2nd semester.

Then it started.  Terrell Floyd intercepted the 1st Florida Gator pass of the game and returned it for a TD thus setting the tone for a 33-23 Orange Bowl win that wasn't as close as the score reflected.

Men's basketball continued their run despite a 3 game losing streak at the end of January.  Then, after losing to Notre Dame in the game of the year in men's college hoops, the Cards won their next 17 games, netting them Big East and National Champion honors.

Crazy thing is the Louisville women's team also participated in the game of the year in women's hoops, but this one didn't go into overtime.  The Lady Cards knocked off heavy tournament favorite Baylor in the Sweet 16 82-81.  They would go on to beat down perennial power Tennessee to reach the Final 4 and advance to the national title game before falling to UConn.

Hosting a regional in 2013, the Cardinals baseball team swept through their regional and traveled to Nashville as heavy underdogs against #2 overall seed Vanderbilt.  The tough competition didn't get in Louisville's way with a sweep of a loaded Commodores team.  And while they went 0 for 2 in the College World Series, a trip to Omaha is a great season and experience for a program. the 4 major college sports in the 2012-13 school year, Louisville won a BCS Bowl game against a mighty SEC power, won the national championship in men's basketball, was national runner-up in women's basketball, and went to the College World Series.  A remarkable achievement and an unprecedented run in these 4 sports in the BCS era.

How can Louisville top the 12-13 sports season?  Well, for starters they have the schedule, star power, pre-season hype, and head coach to make a run at what every major college covets, a BCS National Title.

The schedule?  I'll let you see for yourself how Louisville will be favored in every game they play in 2013.

The defense returns 10 starters, and while the one they lost is a big one, I like my chances with that kind of experience on D and Charlie Strong coaching them up.  As for the offense, they should be able to put up plenty of points with potential top NFL pick Teddy Bridgewater back with top target DeVante Parker.

What better way to follow up an historic 12-13 athletic season?  Rival UK fans may have a new football coach and a great recruiting class, but the top athletic program in the state is clearly Louisville at this point.  Next up is a chance to join Florida as the only programs to currently hold national championships in men's basketball and football.

Can they pull it off?  The cards seem to all be lining up.

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