Who’ll Be Handed The Reigns?

Courtesy of UT ATHLETICS University of Texas Head Football Coach Charlie Strong.

Courtesy of UT ATHLETICS
University of Texas Head Football Coach Charlie Strong.

Matt Jones: Well, Tony, I was very excited to see that Louisville, once again, has lost their coach. Which is always a good sign because that means people want your coach, but Charlie Strong leaves and fans and players all turn on him. Do you understand why Charlie made the move?

Tony Vanetti: Of course you do. It is Texas football. People care more about football there than they do at the University of Louisville. There are more of them. Where it concerns you guys, Charlie Strong did a fantastic job while at UofL: 3-1 against Big Blue. So we love Charlie Strong for that fact alone.

Jones: Well, I’m glad he’s gone, because my goal is to hate all of the UofL coaches as much as possible, and he was kind of hard to dislike. The thing I liked about him is that he moved at his own pace. Even though the story broke about the new job, he made everyone wait for two days. I think that was a cool thing to do. And I think it’s funny to watch all these fans that are upset at him. I’m with you Tony: he has to take that job. Texas football is a great job. First African-American coach there, which is historic. Any fan who says they wouldn’t do it or that he didn’t show loyalty?  They just don’t get it.

Vanetti: I don’t think there’s very many of those people, though. I think the analogy you need to use is “if Rick left yesterday and the Texas basketball coach was being interviewed by UofL…” There’s no way the Texas people would be upset that he would leave Texas for Louisville basketball. There’s no way. Of course you would leave Texas basketball to come coach for UofL.

Jones: I don’t know if I agree with that. It’s a conversation for another day. I remind people of this all the time: if Rick had not come to UofL, their coach would have been Larry Eustachy. So just keep that in mind. They got the right guy for the right time. But UofL is not “The Job” in basketball. It’s a very good job, but it’s not Texas football. Texas football is the elite job.

Vanetti: The Louisville job isn’t what it was 12 years ago basketball-wise. Don’t even get me started here. That is a ridiculous statement. Louisville has gone back-to-back Hall of Fame coaches that have won National titles, the facilities are second to none-

Jones: Actually, the facilities are second to Kentucky.

Vanetti: No. Really? Second to Kentucky? Really? Wow.

Jones: Well, if you’re talking about the facilities, not the arena, then yes. But all that aside, now the question is: who are you all going to hire? I am pulling hard for you to hire Bobby Petrino to showcase that Louisville will do anything to win, will overlook all errors, criminal records, all personal misconduct, it doesn’t matter. The standard is “can you win football?” And then you’ll hire OJ Simpson or Marilyn Manson.

Vanetti: That’s typical, because you’re scared. Look, I understand you don’t want Bobby walking through the door because you’re scared. He went 4-0, and if Bobby walks through the doors of UofL with the talent that’s here, Big Blue Nation will get crushed for the next couple of years in football all over again.

Jones: I want them to get him. Get Bobby Petrino! The jokes that we will be able to make will be great. I’m much more worried about some of the other names on Jurich’s list. I think Bobby Petrino is a good coach that people think is a great coach because he ran into a great quarterback at a great time. Now remember, at Western Kentucky last  year he actually had a worse record than the guy that was there the year before. But people overlook that because they think he’s Nick Saban. I actually think the guy to watch is the defensive coordinator at Stanford. He is making me more worried because to take Stanford defense on a year-in-year-out basis at that school and make it competitive, those are the coaches that do well. Where Jurich and Louisville get in trouble is when they try to outthink themselves. I want Bobby Petrino back because you can’t go home again – please bring back Bobby.

Vanetti: This is all new territory for the University of Louisville. This is the most clout Tom has had searching for a coach. No one has been knocking down Louisville’s door the last three or four football hires. This time around, going into the new conference, the fact that Charlie was making $3.7 million a year, makes that job a little sexier. Now will Tom pay the new guy that? I don’t think so. It will depend on who it is. But this is new territory. Tom has more options than he’s ever had before and I’m sure he’ll do a fantastic job deciding on whoever it is. And I’m sure they’ll continue the success of the three straight wins against Kentucky.

Jones: I don’t think so. First of all, you’ve lost some recruits already and you’re going to probably lose some more. This will be a tough transition for them. It’s actually a very good job from a financial standpoint because Jurich will pay so much, but this is a very tough time from an expectation standpoint. You’re coming off two great seasons, the roster next year won’t be as good and you’re moving to a difficult conference. The expectations will be high and you can see why someone might look at that and think it will be a tough job until you can get it rolling.

Vanetti: Well, entry points are so important. It was great to follow Kragthorpe and not to follow Bobby, that is for sure. And you’re right, next year they’re playing Florida State, Miami, Clemson, Georgia Tech and Notre Dame, which is a step up.  And we’re going to break in a new quarterback, so you’re right. It is not the ideal entry point for a new coach at a program. But I hope that Louisville fans will give them a little more room.

Jones: Let me switch gears for just a minute on your basketball team, since our basketball team was off this week. They went two road games, neither team they played was all that great, but they beat both teams by a decent margin. Do you still think that Louisville is a National title contender without Chane Behanan?

Vanetti: No. At this point, until they show some sort of improvement in the low polls, no I don’t. I think this team has a long way to go to start even talking about getting to the Final Four, much less winning the national title. This isn’t the team I was expecting to see play this year. Now, we can get it together and we have plenty of time to improve, but this schedule is not going to push them. They fell asleep in the first half against a 7-7 Rutgers team. I know it was on the road and it seemed like a rowdy crowd in Jersey, but they should have handled Rutgers much easier than they did. The schedule is going to lull them to sleep just like football.

Jones: I’m not quite as pestimistic as you are, I don’t think Chane Behanan is a huge loss, honestly. He hadn’t done much this year. I think UofL’s team has deficencies. I think that’s clear, but I don’t think you can totally count them out just yet. As long as you have Russ Smith there’s still a chance because he is one of the best scorers in the country, but I don’t think they’re an elite team. I saw UK practice this week, by the way. I think UK is trending up. Going into SEC play, I’m starting to feel confident that they can be one of the elite teams.

Vanetti: Ok, well, you tell me: how many SEC losses for this team?

Jones: Hard to say. If I were to bet on it, I’d probably set the over-under at three, and if you made me, I’d probably take the over slightly. I think they’ll go 15-3, maybe 14-4. If they went 16-2, then I think they could get a one seed. Basically, they have five very difficult games: they play at Arkansas, at Florida, at Missouri, at Ole Miss and at LSU. If they could go 3-2 in those five games, then I think they get the one seed. You just don’t want to go 0-5.

Vanetti: I think you guys peaked against Louisville. I think it will be like last year where you guys go about 500 in conference play-

Jones: Oh stop it! You don’t really believe that.

Vanetti: Christmas isn’t over. I could still ask for a present.

Jones: What do you really believe they’ll do?

Vanetti: They won’t have the troubles they had last year, but I don’t know that they run away with only three losses in the conference. I think there are some better teams in the SEC than people think and I think you’re very, very young. Everyone makes fun of Calipari for this statement, but he is right. When you go into these places that care about football, the only basketball game they care about is when Big Blue is there and they have the white outs or the maroon outs and it’s a crazy atmosphere..

Jones: Just like Kentucky Sports Radio, UK is like everybody’s Super Bowl.

Vanetti: I just threw up in my mouth.