Thursday, October 14, 2010

Partying Is Part of Louisville Tradition

Going to a University of Louisville football game has always been more about the party than the football. That’s probably not going to change anytime soon, no matter how much first-year Head Coach Charlie Strong wishes it would.

Strong recently urged U of L’s fans to not only get to the games at Papa John’s Cardinal stadium, but to get their butts into their seats, rather than lingering while tailgating. I agree that would be terrific. I also know why it’s probably not going to happen.

I’ll sum it up like this: For Louisville fans, the party has always been more dependable than the football.

UL football fans are used to disappointment. They have been bounced from the Missouri Valley Conference to being an independent to a member of Conference USA. The administration even talked about dropping football. Tickets were given away.

I can remember when Louisville’s schedule was littered with the likes of Drake, William and Mary, Army, Western Kentucky and Murray State. There were no natural rivals on the schedule. UL’s most hated rival, Kentucky, wouldn’t even play them.

Louisville landed their dream coach in Howard Schellenberger, only to lose him to Oklahoma. Even he couldn’t keep the Cardinals at the top. To illustrate how bad it was, I used to buy drinks in plastic cups at the stadium that listed UL’s bowl appearances. As best I can remember, there were only two: an ancient Sun Bowl and an Independence Bowl.

For the sake of my digestive system, I don’t even want to discuss the Ron Cooper and Steve Kragthorpe years.

Through all the uncertainty and losing and lackluster opponents, people have needed a reason to go to the games. They found one. It was the party. Generation after generation, they went for the party until it became a lasting part of the culture.

How do you get excited for a game against Drake? Six letters: P-A-R-T-A-Y.

That tradition has endured despite a terrific new stadium, Bobby Petrino, budding NFL players, a string of victories over Kentucky, a BCS conference and an Orange Bowl victory.

Strong doesn’t understand this because he comes from Florida. When was the last time the Gators bragged about their Sun Bowl appearance?

I don’t think Louisville fans even consciously realize this either. It’s just the way it is for them. And likely the way it’s going to remain.


Charles Springer said...

The partying was just an excuse to get you there. Winning will keep you there. That's all it will take to get the butts in the seats ... early.

Doug Bennett Jr. said...

Thanks for the comment. It was great crowd yesterday. Play is improving. I think the weather will play a role, too. Folks around here get a little fickle when it starts to get cold.