|Monday, April 1, 2013, 11:40 AM- -|
I criticize John Swofford and the Atlantic Coast Conference leaders and presidents as much as anyone but you have to give them credit in this latest round of expansion especially after watching this past weekend.
It is pretty clear to me that Louisville is the best team in the country in men's basketball and I would think they would be a big favorite at the Final Four in Atlanta this coming weekend.
Rick Pitino is as good as any coach in America and he has his team playing at an extremely high level in the past few weeks. His Cardinals are the only number one seed to advance to the Final Four. In fact they are the only one of the top 12 seeds to advance.
Pitino is fantastic because he demands greatness from his players. At halftime Friday night in the Sweet 16 game against Oregon, his team was 45-31 but during his halftime interview with CBS, Pitino was not happy. He said we built this lead on offense and that is not Louisville basketball. He also said if the defense did not improve then the Cards would not advance.
So Louisville enters Saturday's Final Four matchup with ninth seed Wichita State with a lot of momentum. The Cardinals are the tournament's top seed and are now 33-5 on the season. They won the Big East regular season title and the Big East tournament title. Can they add the big jewel to their crown?
On Sunday in women's basketball, Louisville upset top-ranked Baylor to advance to the Elite Eight. The Lady Cardinals are 27-8 and pulled one of the biggest upsets in NCAA women's history yesterday.
When the new baseball polls come out today Louisville will probably rise from last week's number 10 spot in the Baseball America version. The Cards were ranked in the top five earlier in the season but lost two games to Indiana. This past weekend Louisville swept Notre Dame and should be on the rise again in this week's polls.
And who could forget Louisville's outstanding football season that ended with a crushing upset of Florida in the Sugar Bowl this past season? The Cardinals kept Charlie Strong away from schools like Tennessee and they bring back Teddy Bridgewater, one of the top Heisman candidates for 2013. Many expect Louisville to be ranked in the top 10 in the pre-season college football polls for the upcoming season.
How did a school with a basketball tradition and little tradition in other sports turn that into one of the nation's best athletic departments? Two things come to mind-leadership and commitment.
Louisville athletic director Tom Junirch has to be considered one of the top athletic directors in the country. He has turned their department into a model for those looking to ascend nationally.
The second part is just as important. Commitment means commitment to coaches and facilities. We could also substitute the word money for the word commitment. Louisville has invested a ton of money in its coaches and its facilities and at this point it appears those investments are paying off.
The main point of the blog today is not to brag about Swofford and the ACC's decision to add Louisville, even though I am happy it happened. The main point is to showcase what great leadership and commitment to excellence can do for an athletic department.
From Clemson's standpoint, I am excited for two reasons. First, I am excited about the idea of playing Louisville in all three major sports. I can't wait to go to their campus for a football game and can't wait to have a little rivalry with the Cardinals.
The second reason I am excited is I am hopeful the leaders at Clemson continue to see what commitment brings to the athletic department. Dan Radakovich is extremely busy right now formulating plans for his direction of the department and those plans have not been finalized yet. But at first glance it appears that he will push for more commitment to our facilities. It appears that we are speeding up the process in many of these areas.
Hopefully our people look at Louisville and see what can be done if we get committed.
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