08 Aug Building a Legacy
UofL Athletics has a long history of success. We’ve won national basketball titles. We’ve won major bowl games. We’ve been to the College World Series—three times. And as true fanatics do, we expect success. And that’s exactly what we get.
For the student-athletes’ efforts, we pack the games. We pack the home fields (women’s basketball, men’s basketball and men’s soccer rank in the top six nationally for attendance) and travel to all corners of the country to cheer on the Cards (New York, New Orleans, Miami, Portland and everywhere in between).
Here’s an example of just how powerful our base is—Forbes Magazine listed men’s basketball as the most valuable college basketball team from 2012 to 2016.
Consider our History
Under legendary Coach Denny Crum, the men’s basketball program reached dynasty status in the 1980s when the Cards won the NCAA National Championship twice (1980 and 1986) and went to the Final Four four times in six years. The legendary Darrell Griffith led the 1980 team, the “Doctors of Dunk.” (Keep your eyes peeled for Crum and Griffith on campus—they both work here.) Under Coach Rick Pitino, the program has had three appearances in the Final Four, and the 2013 national championship.
The women’s basketball team is on its own roll under head coach Jeff Walz, who in his second season in 2009 coached the team to a title game. Cards fans cheered on the team as they made a Cinderella run to the NCAA Championship in 2013. They made another run to the Elite 8 in 2014, where they played as the home team in the KFC Yum! Center. This topped off a successful season for this squad which featured the winningest senior class in history.
And you can’t forget football. This is where the great Johnny Unitas played college football. He completed 245 passes for 3,139 yards and 27 touchdowns for the Cards from 1951 to 1954 before going on to an 18-year career in the NFL. Lee Corso, now a football analyst for ESPN, started his head-coaching career here. For a time, UofL was considered “Linebacker U,” producing such greats as Doug Buffone, Tom Jackson and Otis Wilson, who all went on to stellar pro careers. Coach Howard Schnellenberger brought the football program back from the brink of extinction in the 1980s, eventually leading the Cards to a 1991 Fiesta Bowl championship over Alabama. The success continued under coaches Bobby Petrino and Charlie Strong, with wins in the 2007 Orange Bowl and the 2013 Sugar Bowl. With Petrino now again at the helm, look for a high-scoring offensive machine.
A Game Changer
2014 was the start of something really special though.
The Cards—and the university as a whole—moved to the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), one of the premier leagues in the NCAA. It’s the kind of league filled with history, great competition and champions.
Participating in this conference means competition among perennial powerhouses like Duke, the University of North Carolina and Florida State.
The competition is fierce and the stakes higher for all of our teams.
But off the court, we’re cool with one another. In fact, we’re collaborating in research, academics and student life.
The ACC may be known for its athletic prowess, but it is also a proven academic powerhouse. More than half of conference institutions are routinely listed in the top 50 of U.S. News and World Report’s annual “Best Colleges” ranking. The conference also uses its athletic identity to enrich the educational missions and undergraduate experience through the Atlantic Coast Conference International Academic Collaborative. The ACCIAC sponsors academic initiatives that cater to all students, not just student-athletes, such as annual student leadership and undergraduate conferences.
But hey, we’re here to talk sports. Let’s see a little more about our rivals.
Following Former Cards
As a UofL diehard, you’ll continue to follow the Cards even after they leave campus. Here are a few of our most loved athletes who’ve taken it to the next level:
New Orleans Saints
New York Liberty
Boston Marathon winner
New England Revolution
New York Jets