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Steve Kragthorpe is a Victim of Coaching Celebrity

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Remember that old song, “Tulsa Time?” Don Williams had a hit from it as did Eric Clapton. I wonder if Steve Kragthrope hums that walking to and from his office at Louisville, reminiscing on the banner years of his coaching career? Maybe he changes the lyrics to borrowed time because if his record continues to slide, he will be walking out of Kentucky to pastures elsewhere.

Kragthorpe took over Louisville after Bobby Petrino bolted for the Atlanta Falcons job (after flirting with every other open job in the country for a few years. His record at Tulsa was impressive; in four years, the Golden Hurricane (cool points for a unique mascot) played in three bowl games, winning one, and took home the 2005 Conference USA Championship. Not too shabby for a program that could barely get a team on the field in previous incarnations.

Kragthorpe’s coaching skills are top notch. While coaching Drew Bledsoe in Buffalo, the quarterback had an incredibly productive year due in large part to Kragthorpe’s tutelage. He parlayed that success into the job at Tulsa and the success at Tulsa into the job at Louisville. No doubt the Cardinals thought they needed to replace one “offensive genius” with another. But the translation has not worked at all. In two seasons, Kragthorpe is 11-13 and 4-10 in the Big East Conference including a dismal conference record of 1-6 in 2008. That’s hardly the way to invigorate the team or the fan base.

Kragthorpe is a victim of the hype machine surrounding college football. Position coaches and coordinators experience any modicum of success and they are labeled “genius.” Next, they take a job at a small school, sometimes in a big conference, and they build the resume with a few choice wins, bowl appearances, and the legend grows. Then, a job at a “big” school opens, one where their skill set is either desired for change or to continue standards set by the previous coach, and this up and comer is suddenly thrust into the deep end of the cement pond.

Take a gander at FireKragthorpeNow.com if you want to read some of the extreme reactions to his tenure at Louisville. Most of this stuff is just banter and drivel, but even coaches who struggle can avoid this type of flaming if there is a promise for tomorrow. That is the problem at Louisville; tomorrow does not look much brighter than today.

Honestly, Kragthorpe did not inherit an easy job at Louisville. He had to replace a lot of talent that graduated when Petrino left town and it has not been an easy sell. Louisville has finished in the middle or near the bottom of the Big East Conference in recruiting rankings according to Rivals and there hasn’t been a single offensive skill player ranked higher than 3 stars committed to the Cardinals during his tenure. He’s also up against teams with better recruiting bases (and locks on those bases). Add that with a bit of inexperience in coaching at a program the size of Louisville in the Big East and it equals a big mess.

I do not expect Kragthorpe to make it past next season as the head coach at Louisville. Replacing a starting quarterback is never enviable and the team is just not up to snuff with the rest of the conference competition. However, he is smart, talented, and resourceful enough to take that experience, go back to a smaller place, win, and resurface somewhere down the road. I bet he gives up Papa John’s pizza when he leaves Louisville, too.

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About J. Newcastle

  • Cardkid

    The only 2 corrections, I would make to your article is, “He had to replace a lot of talent that graduated when Petrino left town…” he also inherited Brian Brohm, Eric Wood and three of his top receivers and backs from the previous season. I wouldn’t say he was in a tough spot from the beginning. The other thing was he may have helped Bledsoe, but he did nothing with Hunter Cantwell’s release, who has a gun but was inaccurate and basically off all season.

  • Shane

    Thanks for one of the most uninformed articles I’ve read in a long time. You have absolutely no clue as to how bad of a coach Steve Kragthorpe is. He’s one of the multitude of non BCS coaches who were overvalued by BCS programs to taking a horrible program to a mediocre one. In 2007, after a horrific first year the program had their most draft picks in HISTORY. Kind of goes against your idiotic Petrino left talent bare comment. Get some facts and come back.

  • MB

    Papa Johns pizza doesn’t want to be eaten by Steve Kragthorpe. Let him eat Domino’s, just do it somewhere else.

  • Brad

    “A sinister cabal of superior writers.”

    bahahahahaha! Hahahahahahahaha!hhahahahhahhaaahaa!

    Stop! Seriously. You are killing me, stop!

    bahahahahaha! Hahahahahahahaha!hhahahahhahhaaahaa!

  • Mark

    I get it, this article is a joke, right?! Krap-thorpe has lost to Syracuse TWICE if that is not reason enough to fire someone what is? Ron Cooper could have taken the 2007 team to the Gator Bowl, Kragthorpe had a .500 career record when he came including a losing record against BCS schools which is just getting worse. Get off his nuts, he sucks.

  • Jay

    “Kragthorpe’s coaching skills are top notch”

    Are you serious?
    Do you even watch football?

  • Joe

    Thanks! I needed a laugh! Kragthorpe is top notch………..wtf?

  • Jed

    This has to be written by SK or a delayed article for April 1….. He is a BRUTAL coach..GO CARDS!!!

  • john

    You’ve got to be kidding. I’m a UK fan and I have to say Kragthorpe is one of the most clueless coaches I’ve ever seen. Hope he stays for a long, long time. Ha!!!

  • Nell

    Are you Kidding me Skip? What in the hell are you going on about The Tulsa Turd” is a joke but i geuss since he turn a program that had no where to go but up and i must admit the he was in a strong tradition rich conference that rivals the SEC , it makes him a keeper!!!! Please get real

  • Snrub

    I want to believe he has talent, but reality is making my desires pay for their ignorance. This guy is just awful and there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Your comments about firestevekragthorpenow.com are correct, it is reactionary and pablum infested. However, this guy will never be a great coach at UofL he really is that bad. Listen to his press conferences. He says nothing you can’t learn from your buddy sitting next to you.

  • crow

    Just Go. Away!!

  • crow

    Kragthorpe recently said if he wasn’t coaching he would be a CEO…Really..One of those bankrupt corporations is the only thing he left out. Kinda like what he has done at Daville..Poor product..I bet he has made in China stamped on his azz. Go Away.