Cardinal Soul Sold?

TONY VANETTI: Jerry Palm from CBS’s Bracketology has Louisville as 11th seed and Kentucky a 5th seed.

MATT JONES: Yeah that’s probably where they both deserve to be based on their resumés. But I would suggest that both teams are probably a little better than that. Kentucky is one of the top 10 teams in the country and they should probably be a 2 or a 3 seed. I don’t know whether Louisville is a contender for the title, but they’re not horrible. The problem is both of their resumés. Louisville’s because they didn’t play anybody, and Kentucky has yet to beat a real elite team, so they’re probably where they deserve to be.

VANETTI: I’m pretty shocked by Louisville’s 11th seed. I didn’t think at the beginning of the season we’d sit here in the middle of January staring at an 11 seed. I’m hoping that they can get some work done in the conference to get themselves up, but I don’t know how high they can go. You’ve been through the process that they go through when they place these teams. Is Louisville damaged because Chane Behanan is not in the team anymore?

JONES: That would be a small part, but the real damage is that they haven’t beaten anybody that’s good. They’ve played three teams of quality or moderate quality on their schedule and they’ve lost to all of them. Their best win is Southern Miss, and that’s just not good enough. The problem for Louisville is that the NCAA really cares about that stuff. They care about wins against the top 50 and against the top 100, and as of now Louisville doesn’t have a win against the top 50 and they may have one win against the top 100, which may be Southern Miss. Until that changes, you’re going to get heated at where Jerry Palm’s at.

VANETTI: Okay, if you could push the button right now, would you take the 5 seed or take the chance to go higher or lower?

JONES: No, for Kentucky you want to go higher because I don’t think you can win a title as a 5 seed. You can, but you’ve got to get really lucky. I think Kentucky are really beginning to hit their stride, so I think Kentucky goes to a 2 or a 3. With their schedule, they can do that, but they’ve got to be pretty good in conference. Maybe go 16-2 to be a 2 or 3 seed. But that’s doable. If they win the Arkansas game, I say “watch out.” And Louisville, I think, ends up better. I think they end up being a 6 or a 7, and a very dangerous 6 or7 if you’re a 2 or a 3 seed.

VANETTI: Tom Jurich is writing checks and allowing Bobby Petrino to put together one of the best football staff in America. Big Blue Nation is preparing to take on Bobby Petrino next year.

JONES: The whole thing is a big joke. The fact they hired him is a big joke. It highlights that nothing matters there other than chasing victories. They tried to get up there with a straight face and act like somehow Bobby Petrino is a good representation of the university. And to their credit, a lot of fans seem to smell it and have held their nose throughout. They hired Georgia’s defensive coordinator, but Georgia’s defense was horrible last year. Georgia’s fans were like “Please take him from us.” I’m surprised about the money though – a five-year deal for a defensive coordinator. That is shocking. And I’ll be honest with you: Tom Jurich might be the best AD in the country, but I think his arrogance is causing him to make some decision that will cause him to look back and ask ‘Why did I do that?’

VANETTI: Well, the University of Louisville is about forgiveness, that’s for sure, and about giving second chances. They have a relationship. Tom is not just grabbing Bobby Petrino with a past, it’s a Bobby Petrino who has a past at Louisville. They are comfortable together and I think it’s come to a perfect storm. I think Bobby has come to a point in his life where he’s older, he’s grown, he has grandkids. Tom only has a few years left as an athletic director at UofL and this will be either boom or bust. They either get an ACC championship in the next couple of years or they don’t. But I think at this time it’s about taking chances, and I think Tom is taking a chance with Bobby.

Were you able to say all that stuff about forgiveness without vomiting in your mouth?

VANETTI: Hey, give me a break! You’ve been a jerk to me before and I’ve forgiven you plenty of times.

JONES: Yes, but I did not come out of a meeting with you and tell you I was a changed man after one meeting. The idea that Tom Jurich has any idea that Bobby Petrino is a changed man is laughable. Just call it as it is: UofL sold their soul to win football games going into the ACC. Now, it might work. And it probably will work, because he’s a good coach. But as Eric Crawford pointed out, people at Western Kentucky told him Petrino hasn’t changed one bit. And you mean to tell me that Jurich and Rocco Gasparro, after meeting him one time, can go “Yeah, Bobby Petrino is a changed man”? Don’t play us all for fools. You’re a great athletic director, but don’t act like we’re not intelligent to believe you for this stuff. Just tell it as it is. You want to win and get the best coach to win and that’s why you hired him.

VANETTI: Didn’t a lot of people believe that Kentucky sold their soul when they went after Calipari a couple of years ago?

JONES: A lot of people did, which is why a lot of people are giving Louisville the benefit of the doubt, which I think is funny. But here is the major distinction between Calipari and Petrino: every school in which Calipari has coached, they would immediately hire him back if they could. Yes, he had those issues coming in, but the people around him swear by Calipari. Bobby Petrino could not even get a job walking on campus at the places he’s been, either at Arkansas or the Atlanta Falcons. Again, it just goes to show that at Louisville, it’s about winning at all costs. Which is fine, but just admit it.

VANETTI: Well, the university certainly likes to do that. But it makes a pretty nice duo between Pitino and Petrino in the two big sports, and there was a lot of your fanbase that was giving you a lot of guff when you went against the hire, and a lot of people said you were against UK at that point because you did not want to bring Petrino to Lexington.

JONES: I was against having Petrino at Kentucky and was against having him at Louisville. Here’s the one thing. Having Pitino and Petrino means there’s no single school in America where the ladies need to be on watch more than in Louisville, Ky. Let’s end on that.