Exactly two years ago, Louisville made his College Football Playoff push. Behind the future Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and…
Exactly two years ago, Louisville made his College Football Playoff push. Behind the future Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and a series of blowout victories, put the cards at No. 5 in the playoffs, with a final second loss for any champion Clemson as his only shame.
Could unrelated, Louisville challenge challenging conventional wisdom and possibly making it into CFP as a lossless conference champion? The debate broke down to a Thursday night in Houston. Louisville looked like a lost, unorganized, uninterested team and blown out 36-10, blowing not only his playoffs but also a new year’s six-game.
As it turns out, the match at the end of Bobby Petrino kicked Sunday from his second stint in Louisville.
“If you want to say that culture is equivalent to effort, then there was something going wrong,” said athletic director Vince Tyra on Sunday. “Because the effort was not what it has been historical… The players can not hide it. It appears on film.”
It was hard to tell at the time of course. Jackson papered over the cracks that are now obvious afterwards. Jackson became such a point of contact, from his Lamar Leap to his speed, his play-changing ability to record career, the only conversation about Louisville began and ended with him.
In fact, Louisville had major problems that Petrino either would not fix or could not fix, and nobody really bothered to dive deeper for two reasons. Jackson not only helped to mask the weaknesses both on the team and inside the program. Athletic director Tom Jurich stood as Petrino’s powerful protector. Although Petrino burned Jurich the first time he coached in Louisville, Jurich replied to him in 201
4, gave him a $ 4 million contract with an extremely generous buyout clause (Louisville owed Petrino over $ 14 million now) and repeatedly promised this time would be different.
However, another story appeared in the dressing room. Assistant coaches started leaving, some for lateral movements, following problems with Petrino.
Louisville closed in 2016 with three straight losses, ending with an embarrassing performance in Citrus Bowl against LSU and scoring just nine points. Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who repeatedly collided with Petrino, left for the Mississippi state. Petrino employed Peter Sirmon from the Mississippi State and the rent proved perhaps where things in Louisville were not so pink: In Sirmon’s season as defensive coordinator in Starkville, the defense was ranked No. 103. Is that the best Petrino could do?
Meanwhile, Petrino employed longtime friend Mike Summers to fix the biggest weakness of the team, the offensive line. When Jackson won Heisman in 2016, he was dismissed 47 times. But even a reorganized staff could not put the brakes on what ended up being disappointing in 2017: an 8-5 record that ended with another bowl loss.
So essentially, the Lamar Jackson era gave the tournament championship, zero conference championship, zero new year’s six-look and a bowl win.
Jurich fired halfway through the 2017 season, so Petrino lost the biggest follower he had on campus. Starting in 2018 many more questions remain. How would Louisville travel without Jackson? And how would the defense do with another coordinator, this time Brian Van Gorder, who had been fired from his last defense co-ordinator on Notre Dame? It was also hard to ignore that Petrino’s staff included his son Nick and two in-laws.
Petrino did not exactly help himself when he told ACC Kickoff journalists that he expected his break to be better this season with the new quarterback Jawon Pass.
“I expect to get better,” said Petrino at that time. “I expect we to be more balanced, the ability to get more guys to participate, especially in the running game. I really like our receiving team to come back. I really think it’s one of the strongest corps to come back
The players did not help either when the rubbish was talking to Alabama before the opening of the season.
On A rainy September night in Orlando, Louisville went on the field to start the 2018 season, obviously. But Alabama buried them in a shot of points and won 51-14. It became clear that this place was nowhere near better with Pass under Later Louisville needed a late comeback to beat Western Kentucky, and Petrino had no clear answer to the quarterback when he woke up between Pass and Malik Cunningham.  The offensive line was still a sharp weak point and the lack of player development in the past few seasons spoke more about the staff anyway. The team had no established springback or running game. The defense looked exactly as you would expect from a device that plays under its third coordinator in three years.
Then ACC Games and Louisville began to look like a team without direction, competitive fire or leadership. Recruits started winding up and two high-profile players – Cornerback Russ Yeast and quarterback Jordan Travis – announced they would transfer.
On the first Saturday of November, Louisville visited Clemson. Last time, the cards played at Death Valley, they entered as favorite, with Jackson as a quarterback. They came up 1 farm card on fourth and 12 deep inside Clemson territory in a heartbreaking 42-36 loss.
But this time, Clemson entered as a nearest 40-point favorite because speculation was spinning if Petrino were to survive the season. At half-time, Clemson led 35-3. Athletic director Vince Tyra was on the sidelines in the first half and listened to defensive huddle, and then he went into the dressing room in half-time.
In a quiet moment inside the box before the third quarter, Tyra reiterated that he did not anticipate making this decision when he took over as athlete just one year ago. All he wanted to see was some momentum, better execution, a willingness to win who seemed completely drained from the program. Although Tyra would not say anything or anything he would do, he felt like he had no choice.
Louisville lost 77-16, which enabled 50 or more points for the third time in four games.  Afterwards, Petrino was tight when asked if he feared for his job security.
“I’m just trying to coach one game at a time,” said Petrino.
Recipient Jaylen Smith suggested that the team was not mentally hard compared to the one who hit Clemson almost two years ago.
“Clemson has potentially seven first rounds in his team, six in defense, so I think it’s another mental thing, it’s a toughness that’s mentally tough, to be able to weather that storm and play against these the guys knowing we can compete, says Smith, who was at the Louisville team in 2016. “We are all at the same conference, we all have the same opportunities, we” were all here for a reason, so use your platform to show that you belong. “
When asked to point out Bigge St difference between Louisville now and then, Smith said,” Execution. That’s the most important. I’d say we were probably a bit harder then too, but the performance is the most important thing. The way we used to adjust to a small thing and make different halftimes or make adjustments was unbelievable. We also had one of the best quarterbacks ever to play football. He could do so much and it was only a will to be good, one wants to do n Best man better, so when you have five guys on the o-line that all want to be better than another, it makes for great competition and good performance on Saturday. Same with the recipients, the backrests, the defense as well. “
Smith did not have to say anything but paint a complete picture. Everyone promised that there would be no end to this, but your eyes told you something completely different.
Earlier this week, only days after the embarrassing loss to Clemson, Louisville lost 54-23 in Syracuse – in the same dome that launched Jackson’s Heisman Run in 2016.
No one could predict this would end. But when things went bad, things went bad Petrino could not do anything about it.