Louisville Cardinals football

Louisville Cardinals football
2016 Louisville Cardinals football team
First season 1912
Athletic director Tom Jurich
Head coach Bobby Petrino
7th overall, 3rd straight year, 6721 (.761)
Stadium Papa John's Cardinal Stadium
Seating capacity 55,000
Field surface FieldTurf
Location Louisville, Kentucky
Conference ACC
Division Atlantic
Past conferences Independent (1912–1963)
MVC (1963–1974)
I-A Independent (1975–1995)
Conference USA (1996–2004)
Big East Conference (2005–2012)
American Athletic Conference (2013)
All-time record 50044517 (.529)
Bowl record 1091 (.525)
Conference titles 8 (2 Missouri Valley Conference, 3 Conference USA, 3 Big East)
Colors Red and Black[1]
Fight song Fight! UofL
Mascot Cardinal Bird
Marching band U of L Cardinal Marching Band (Marching Cards)
Rivals Kentucky Wildcats
Cincinnati Bearcats
Memphis Tigers
Website gocards.com

The Louisville Cardinals Football team represents the University of Louisville in the sport of American football. The Cardinals compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and compete in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The team is currently coached by Bobby Petrino.


Early history (1912–1942)

The University of Louisville began playing football in 1912 where the Cardinals went 3–1. Louisville had played several years at club level and teams were mostly composed with medical students. Beginning in 1914 the Cardinals joined the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) and they would participate in Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC). Due to financial difficulty Louisville did not participate in the 1917–1921 seasons.

When the Cardinals did rejoin football they came back into the SIAA which was going through reorganization losing most major state schools and thus became a small college conference. The Cardinals would face mostly Kentucky state schools such as Eastern Kentucky, Murray State, Western Kentucky, and Morehead State, along with private state schools like Centre, Transylvania, Kentucky Wesleyan, and Georgetown College.

Tom King
The 1926 football team would see success thanks to the direction of the AD/Head Coach Tom King

Tom King would be the first coach to attempt to build a program at Louisville. King played college football at Notre Dame (1915–1916) under Coach Palmer and future legend Knute Rockne. King was an undersized end for the Irish and was known for his athleticism and speed. Before he came to the football team for punt returns he was on the track team and basketball team, where he was named captain in 1916. His experience at Notre Dame gave him ideas on developing a spread wing offense so his undersized players could be better utilized. He often recruited players like him, that have the ability to out run their opponent.

His first standout was Fred Koster, at only 160 pounds was not big enough to play at Male High School. Koster would draw national attention to Louisville in 1926 by setting the scoreboard on fire with racking up 68 points in his first 2 games of the season. In only 6 games, Koster would score 18 touchdowns, 10 extra points, and 2 field goals and would go on to finish second in scoring in college football with 124 points. Koster was an all-around athlete and was a letterman 16 times, 4 times in each baseball, basketball, football, and track. Koster was a standout forward for the basketball team, leading the team in scoring 2 years. In baseball, Koster would go on to play for 10 years professionally. One for the Phillies and would see time with the Louisville Colonels and St. Paul's Saints in the American Association.[2]

Tom King had the program going in the right direction until he decided to play Detroit for $10,000. Knute Rockne who was head coach at Notre Dame, and a fellow grad, called up King and ask if he would take the Detroit game because Rockne felt his team wasn't up to it. When King asked what was in it for Louisville Rockne replied $10,000, which was a substantial sum of money in 1928 for an athletics department. Louisville started the season with a 72–0 win over Eastern Kentucky but when they traveled to Detroit they were hammered with injuries wouldn't win another game or score for the rest of the season, as Detroit would go undefeated and claim a share of the national title.[3]

King would serve as head football coach for only two more years. But, he would also serve as track, baseball, basketball and athletic director during his tenure at Louisville. Louisville athletics took a step back when Dr. Raymond Kent was announced as new President of Louisville. He was outwardly opposed to collegiate sports, King on the advice of his friend Rockne moved on and in 1933 became assistant coach at Michigan State.[4]

Louisville would fall quickly back into the Dark Ages of football and would only post 1 winning season until World War II. With the onset of World War II, Louisville, like many college athletic programs around the country, were put on suspension until 1946. During this time Louisville played mostly within KIAC and posted a 73–118–8 record with a .378 winning percentage.

Notable games

Largest Victory: 100–0 vs Washington College (TN) on Oct. 18 1913

Largest Defeat: 105–0 vs Murray State on Oct. 8 1932

Undefeated Season: 1925 8–0 allowing 2 points to be scored all season.

Frank Camp era (1946–68)

Frank Camp revived the Cardinal Program in 1946 after World War II ended. Camp was collegiate player at Transylvania University in both football and basketball went on to accumulate a 102–35–04 record as a high school coach before he was tabbed for the head job at Louisville. Camp was responsible for moving away from the traditional KIAC competition and moving towards a more competitive schedule including match ups against some powerhouse traditional teams. Camp would see success early after going 7–0–1 in his second year and was accredited for being able to gel current players with the new recruits return from war.

Camp like King would see another President pull resources and scholarships in the early 1950s would see both Knop, who at the time was being recruited by Bear Bryant of Kentucky, and Johnny Unitas, who was being recruited by Indiana, elect to stay at Louisville and play for Camp. Louisville did see a lot of talent leave and they went into a slump from 1950 to 1954. Camp would only suffer 2 losing seasons for the rest of his career. The loss of the scholarships saw a loss talent on the team. So when scholarships were again available Camp would start to recruit black players and start integration in the sports program in at Louisville.

The most enduring legacy Camp left behind was pioneering integration in the southern athletics. Camp's first African-American player was Lawrence "Bumpy" Simmons, a local product from Central High School. He only played one year in 1952 and left the team on good terms. Camp would bring in Andy Walker, George Cain and Lenny Lyles in 1954 and they would become the first scholarship players at Louisville. Once the university was integrated in 1951 Camp and his assistant coach Wood sought out potential recruits. Coach Wood would be integral in bring in Lyles who was also a track star. All three players would go on to become starters and Lyles and Cain would become a dangerous tandem in the backfield.[5]

Camp would introduce the rivalry of Memphis, taking the Cards out independency and joining the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC)and lead the Cards to their first bowl game during his tenure. Camp's legacy is tied to three players he brought to Louisville Johnny Unitas, Lenny Lyles, and Otto Knop. Camp coached the Cardinals until his retirement following the 1968 season. Camp is the Cardinals' all-time wins leader among head coaches in Louisville football history. Camp would also see the Cardinals leave Parkway Field and move to Manual Stadium which held 17,000 and was relief for players because they no longer had to play on a baseball field and it was well lit. The Cards would then move to Cardinal Stadium in 1957 and it would serve as their home until they moved to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in 1998. In their inaugural season at Cardinal Stadium the Cardinals finished the season 9–1 with their first bowl appearance winning in the Sun Bowl against Drake 34–20. Louisville ended I-A independence by joining the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) in 1963 only to leave independence again in 1974.

During Camp's tenure at Louisville he amassed a 118–95–2 record with a 1–0 bowl record to become the all-time winningest coach at Louisville. He retired following the 1968 season.

Johnny Unitas

Five games into Johnny Unitas' freshman season (Unitas was allowed to play as a freshman because Louisville didn't belong to the NCAA), head coach Frank Camp knew he had something unique. Tossed in against St. Bonaventure when Louisville was trailing 19–0, Unitas completed 11 consecutive passes, 3 for touchdowns, in a steady rain and helped put the Cards in front 21–19.But the Cards couldn't stop St. Bonaventure from kicking a last-ditch field goal and they lost 22–21. Despite the loss, nothing could detract from Unitas' astonishing performance. With Unitas leading the way, Louisville went on to win its next four games, including a 35–28 victory over Houston. Louisville was a 19-point underdog against the Cougars.

One of the greatest plays of Unitas' career took place in that game when the Cardinals were leading 28–21 and had the ball on their own eight-yard line in the fourth quarter. After two unsuccessful running plays, Unitas dropped back into his own end-zone, sidestepped two defenders and threw a pass to Babe Ray who scored a 92-yard TD.

In the next day's Louisville Courier-Journal, reporter Jimmy Brown wrote: "If Coach Frank Camp is smart, he'll take Unitas, enclose him in a cellophane bag and put him away with the Cardinals' uniforms for safekeeping over the winter." In his sophomore season, Unitas completed 77 of his 154 passes and threw 12 TDs. Louisville went 3–8 that year. At Florida State, Unitas had one of his best games, completing 17 of 22 passes in a 41–14 victory. Louisville, though, almost fumbled away Johnny Unitas after his sophomore season. After an administrative hassle which saw 15 players dismissed from school, leaving the Cardinal roster empty.

Unitas thought about leaving and transferring to Indiana. But, he decided against leaving when he was reminded that Indiana shunned him earlier in his career. Unitas now holds just a few records at Louisville, most of them eclipsed by quarterbacks John Madeya, Ed Rubbert, Browning Nagle, Jeff Brohm, Marty Lowe, Chris Redman, Dave Ragone and Stefan LeFors. Unitas finished his career completing 247 of 502 passes for 2,912 yards and 27 touchdowns.

The rest of Unitas' story is well documented. He left Louisville and became the ninth-round pick by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1955, but was cut by them in a numbers game. The Steelers had four quarterbacks; they only needed three. Unitas was the odd man out.

Unitas took a job with a Pittsburgh tiling company following the cut and then he latched on with the Bloomfield Rams, a semi-pro team. He made six dollars a game. But Unitas didn't linger long in the bush league. The Colts got wind of him and invited him for a tryout. He made the team, signing for $7,000 and the Steelers made history for one of the biggest blunders of all time.

Unitas was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1979 and his record 47-consecutive game touchdown passes is a record compared to Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak.[6] (Drew Brees would eventually break the record in 2012)

Lenny Lyles

A trailblazer in the integration of the Louisville Cardinals football program, Lenny Lyles was an outstanding player on both sides of the football from 1954 to 1957. Although he faced many unwelcoming crowds in his time at Louisville he always had the support of his coaches and teammates. On a recruiting trip to IU, track star Milt Campbell would advise Lyles against IU so Lyles would settle in his hometown university and play for Camp. The Central High product was a prize recruit for Louisville not only for his skill on the field but also to help attract other black players to the school. Louisville was coming out of a de-emphasis on sports and scholarships were now available to offer.[7]

A four-year starter for the Cardinals, Lyles totaled 2,786 yards on the ground and scored a school-record 42 touchdowns in his storied career, including 18 in 1957 to set a single season record which stood for more than 40 years. He is the school's second all-time scoring leader with 300 points in his storied career. He became the first Cardinal to surpass the 1,000-yard mark in a single season. In 1957, his 1,207 yards not only earned him All-America acclaim but led all of college football. He was selected in the first round of the 1958 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Colts, where he teamed with Johnny Unitas.

Otto Knop

A four-year letterwinner at linebacker and center from 1949 to 1952, Otto Knop earned honorable mention Associated Press Little All-America honors as a sophomore and United Press International All-America his junior year. He was inducted into the UofL Athletic Hall of Fame in 1979 in its second induction class, and was inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994. His most memorable highlight was a fumble recovery that led to the tying touchdown in a stunning 13–13 deadlock at heavily favored Miami (FL) in 1950.

Notable games

1958 Sun Bowl

Louisville 34, Drake 20 on January 1, 1958 | El Paso, Tx

The University of Louisville made its first bowl appearance Jan. 1, 1958, as Frank Camp's squad battered Drake 34–20 in the Sun Bowl. The victory over the Drake Bulldogs capped a near-perfect season for the Cardinals. UofL finished with a 9–1 record. Louisville's squad was headed by Lenny Lyles, the nation's leading rusher. Unfortunately, Lyles went down in the first quarter with an injury. He managed just six yards on two carries. In Lyles' absence, Ken Porco and Pete Bryant stepped forward offensively. Porco ran for a game-high 119 yards on 20 carries. Bryant added 80 yards on 14 carries, while also tossing a 20-yard scoring pass.[8]

The Miami Game

Louisville 13, #9 Miami 13

November 10, 1950 | Miami, Fl (28,824)

Louisville had played Miami the previous year at Manual Stadium and suffered a 0–26 drubbing. When they met in Miami the following year, Miami was ranked 9th nationally with a 6–0 record and was looking forward to the Orange Bowl at the end of the year. Louisville felt they had a chance against Miami when their quarterback was injured in Miami's previous game. Louisville played excellent defense and played all 35 players that went on the trip. The Cards kept the game close with 0–7 score at the half. Louisville would tie it up in the third quarter only to see Miami retake the lead early in the fourth. Louisville would come back and score late putting the capacity crowd of 28,824 into a dead silence. On the extra point attempt Louisville split the upright and would have taken a 14–13 lead but a penalty was called for not having enough men on the line. On the scoring play a Louisville player left the game with an injury and in the excitement of the touchdown the assistant coach forgot to send in his backup. The game would end in a 13–13 tie but was still considered a huge victory for the Cards. Camp credited the Louisville defense and bench of playing a complete game. Louisville would come home to 5,000 fans at Standiford Field and was greeted by the mayor. This game would become the greatest forgotten game in Louisville history.[9]

Johnny Unitas Comeback Game : 21–22 vs St. Bonaventure Oct. 27 1951

Undefeated Season: 1947 7–0–1 one year after revival

Lee Corso era (1969–1972)

Following Frank Camp's retirement, Navy defensive backs coach Lee Corso was hired to take over as Louisville's head football coach. Under Corso, the Cardinals went 28–11–3. Corso's final season saw the Cardinals finish 9–1 and ranked #18 in the final AP Poll. Corso would be the last coach until John L. Smith to leave Louisville with a winning record overall. After four seasons at Louisville, Corso left to become the head football coach at Indiana. Today, Corso is a well-known college football analyst for ESPN College Gameday.

Tom Jackson

Tom Jackson spent three seasons as a linebacker for the Cardinals leading the team in tackles all three campaigns. He earned All- Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Year honors in 1970 and 1972. He played all three seasons under the watchful eye of the colorful Lee Corso as the Cards posted a 23–7–2 mark in Jackson's three seasons as an active player. Jackson was drafted in the fourth round of the 1973 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. He played 14 seasons in the NFL.

Notable games

Louisville 24, Long Beach State 24

December 19, 1970 | Pasadena, Ca (21,097)

In 1970, the University of Louisville's Missouri Valley Conference Championship team tied Long Beach State 24–24 at the Pasadena Bowl to close the season. Long Beach trailed Lee Corso's Cardinals almost the entire game after John Madeya scored a pair of touchdowns. On the strength of a safety and some nifty running by fullback Leon Burns, LBSU managed to forge a fourth-quarter tie. A strange play near the end of the game had the Louisville faithful thinking they just might secure a victory. Madeya threw a screen pass to tailback Tom Jesukaitis, who was supposed to go out of bounds. Instead Jesukaitis put the ball in the air again, throwing a pass to Cookie Brinkman who went in for a touchdown. The rulebook prohibits more than one pass on a single play, however, and UofL was penalized five yards. Louisville's Paul Mattingly was named Defensive Player of the Game. He blocked a 32-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter and was in on a game-high 17 tackles.

Alley, Gibson and Weber (1973–1984)

Following Lee Corso's departure Louisville's football program struggled mightily as fan support grew weaker and weaker. The years between Corso's departure and Howard Schnellenberger's arrival are considered the dark years for Louisville football. Louisville only made one bowl appearance during the tenures of T. W. Alley, Vince Gibson and Bob Weber, the 1977 Independence Bowl, which they lost to Louisiana Tech. All three of those head coaches had losing records at Louisville. T. W. Alley was hired to replace Corso, but was fired after two unsuccessful seasons. Vince Gibson was then hired to lead the football program. During Vince Gibson's tenure at Louisville, Gibson nicknamed his team the "Red Rage". Although the moniker is no longer used to describe the football team, several other university organizations over the years have used the "Red Rage" nickname. Gibson had the best overall record of the three coaches between Corso and Schnellenberger at 25–29–2. After Gibson came Bob Weber, who went 20–35 in five seasons. After Weber's tenure, athletic officials considered dropping from Division I-A (now FBS) to I-AA (now FCS) in football, due to the program's on-the-field struggles and low attendance and fan support, but decided to stay at the I-A level.

Although this was a low point for the Cardinals in their history they did produce some notable NFL talent. Walter Peacock (1972–1975), Louisville's all-time leading rusher would become the first star of this era, at 3,204 yards Peacock would account for much of the Cards offense. On the defensive side of the ball Louisville Legends Frank Minnifield (1979–82), Otis Wilson (1977–79) and Dwayne Woodruff (1976–78) would go on to long NFL careers. Louisville would also begin producing elite wide receivers such as Ernest Givens (1984–85) and Mark Clayton (1979–82), Clayton would go on to become the first Cardinal to break the 1,000 yard mark with 1,112 receiving yards in a season (1981) until Arnold Jackson surpassed him in 1998. Joe Jacoby (1978–80) would go on to a very successful NFL career with 3 Super Bowls wins and becoming a 4 time Pro-Bowler for the Washington Redskins. Jacoby wasn't the only offensive line to see a long NFL career, Bruce Armstrong would go to play 13 season with the New England Patriots and accumlate 6 Pro-Bowls and 2 2nd team selections along the way.

Howard Schnellenberger era (1985–1994)

Following five unsuccessful seasons under the guidance of Bob Weber, Howard Schnellenberger, a native of Louisville and 1983 National Champion as the head football coach at Miami, was hired in hopes of making Louisville a national title contender for the first time ever. At the press conference announcing his hiring, Schnellenberger drew laughs when he said the Cardinals were "on a collision course with the national championship. The only variable is time."

Prior to accepting the Louisville job, Schnellenberger turned a lowly Miami football program that was nearly dropped from the athletic department into a national champion in five years. Schnellenberger also played at Kentucky for and served as offensive coordinator at Alabama under Bear Bryant. His hiring brought excitement to Louisville football that had never been seen before among the Louisville fan base. His best team was the 1990 unit, which went 10–1–1 and routed Alabama in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl en route to their first-ever appearance in a final poll. The 1990 season highlighted what was, at the time, the most successful decade in U of L football history. His teams earned 90 percent of the school's all-time TV appearances, its first-ever appearance in a major bowl, helped increase attendance by nearly 40 percent, an average over the past six years of more than 1,000 above stadium capacity.

His teams played a coast-to-coast schedule against the top conferences in the nation and produced victories over such teams as Texas (1), Alabama (1), Michigan State (1), North Carolina (1), Virginia (1), North Carolina State (1), West Virginia (1), Boston College (1), Arizona State (2), and Pittsburgh (4). Schnellenberger also would see a lot of talent going on to play in the NFL. Some of his notable talent was Ray Buchanan, Ted Washington, Sam Madison, Jeff Brohm, Roman Oben and Joe Johnson.

Schnellenberger also took Louisville to the Liberty Bowl in 1993, where it defeated Michigan State. 1993 would become a reflection of what the coach was trying to build by scheduling Texas, Texas A&M, Tennessee, Arizona St., Pittsburgh and West Virginia. With Louisville announcing that it would give up independent status and join Conference USA, a weak football conference, Schnellenberger left for Oklahoma after the 1994 season. While he never won a national title at Louisville, he did succeed in reviving a program that had been on life support when he arrived. For that reason, even though he had a losing overall record of 54–56–2 in 10 seasons (largely because his first three teams only won eight games total), he remains very much in the good graces of Cardinal fans.

Schnellenberger's lasting legacy at U of L however, is Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, which he proposed from the minute he arrived. Schnellenberger planned and raised the money for its construction, but left for Oklahoma before the stadium opened. In 2006, Louisville named the Cardinals' football fieldhouse the Howard L. Schnellenberger Football Complex with Schnellenberger in attendance before U of L's game against Florida Atlantic University.[10] The most valuable player award for the UofL and UK is also named after him because he was born and raised in Louisville and he played college at Kentucky.

Notable games

1991 Fiesta Bowl

Louisville 34, Alabama 7

January 1, 1991 | Tempe, Az (69,098)

Louisville was invited to the bowl game after schools such as Notre Dame and Virginia declined to participate in protest of the Arizona voters' rejection of recognizing The Martin Luther King holiday.

Playing in its first bowl game in 13 years, the Cardinals felt they had something to prove at the 1991 Fiesta Bowl. The squad proved its point in a 34–7 thrashing of Alabama. The Cardinals came out on all cylinders, scoring 25 points in the first quarter. Browning Nagle tossed two long touchdown passes and Ray Buchanan recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown. Nagle threw for a Fiesta Bowl record 451 yards, including 223 during a 25-point first-quarter explosion. He completed 20-of-33 passes and had three scoring passes. Alabama's offense did not experience much success. For the game, the Tide rolled for just 189 yards of total offense. UofL defensive back Ray Buchanan was tabbed as the game's defensive most valuable player.

1993 Liberty Bowl

Louisville 18, Michigan State 7

December 28, 1993 | Memphis, Tn. (21,097)

The 1993 Cardinals put a cap on an 8–3 regular season with an 18–7 victory over Michigan State at the Liberty Bowl. Howard Schnellenberger's squad registered the first win ever by the Cardinals over a Big Ten foe. The conditions were hardly ideal for an aerial display, but quarterback Jeff Brohm checked in with one of the guttiest efforts in the history of Cardinal football. Brohm, playing with two steel pins and one steel plate in the index finger of his throwing hand completed 19-of-29 passes for 197 yards and a touchdown amidst 20- degree temperatures and freezing rain. Most of that courage was shown in the fourth quarter. Entering the final frame, Louisville trailed 7–3.With 12:05 remaining, Brohm connected on a 25-yard strike to Reggie Ferguson to put the Cardinals in front for good. Just over three minutes later, it was the defense's turn to make a big play. Pinned back to their one-yard line, the Spartans were merely looking to get some breathing room for their offense. Running back Craig Thomas took the handoff and was immediately met by All-American defensive end Joe Johnson and reserve linebacker Tyrus McCloud for a safety. On the ensuing possession, the Cardinals marched down the field for an insurance touchdown when Anthony Shelman bolted into the end zone from 11 yards out.

Ron Cooper era (1995–1997)

Following the departure of Howard Schnellenberger to Oklahoma, Ron Cooper was hired away from Eastern Michigan, where he had a 9–13 record in two seasons as the head football coach. Cooper had also been an assistant at Notre Dame under Lou Holtz. Cooper was the first African American head football coach in Louisville football history, and also the youngest. He was 32 years old when he was named head coach. The committee responsible for hiring Cooper was very impressed with Cooper's optimism and vision for the program.[11] Louisville went 6–5 and 5–6 in Cooper's first two seasons, but fell to 1–10 in Cooper's third and ultimately final season, prompting newly hired athletic director Tom Jurich to fire Cooper.[12]

John L. Smith era (1998–2002)

After the firing of Ron Cooper, Jurich hired Utah State head coach John L. Smith as the new Louisville head football coach. Smith kick-started the program and went 7–5, 7–5, 9–3, 11–2 and 7–6 in his five seasons as head coach. Following the 2002 season, Smith accepted an offer to become the head football coach at Michigan State.

Smith's teams were known for offensive prowess. "John L.", as he was called, would also begin the cycle of bring great college quarterbacks to Louisville starting with Chris Redman (1996–99), Dave Ragone (1998–2001) and Stephan LeFors (2000–03). On the receiving end would see great receivers including all-time NCAA reception setter Arnold Jackson (1997–2000), Ibn Green (1996–99) and a future Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch (2001–02).

Chris Redman

Chris Redman closed his career as the NCAA all-time leader in passes attempted and completed and was one of just three Division I-A signal callers to throw for more than 12,000 yards in a career. The Parade National High School Player of the Year at Louisville Male, Redman finished his Cardinal career completing 1,031 of 1,679 passes for 12,541 yards and 84 touchdowns. A first-team All-Conference USA selection and the league's Offensive Player of the Year in 1999, he also added the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award to his mantle. As a junior, Redman rewrote the UofL and C-USA record books, passing for 4,042 yards and 29 scores despite playing in just 10 regular season games. His 44-of-56, 592-yard afternoon against East Carolina was the nation's top single game passing performance in 1998.

Deion Branch

A former junior-college standout, Deion Branch played for the Cardinals from 2000 to 2001. Despite playing just two seasons, Branch put up remarkable numbers. He stands seventh all-time in receiving yards with 2,204, ninth with 143 receptions and tied for fourth with 18 touchdowns. Branch registered his best season in 2001 when he caught 72 passes for 1,188 and nine scores. He also caught 71 passes for 1,016 yards and nine scores in his initial years with the Cardinals. Coming out of Louisville, Branch was originally drafted by New England in the second-round (65th overall) of the 2002 NFL Draft. He played four years with the Patriots and is in his fifth with the Seahawks.

A native of Albany, Ga., Branch made his name in the post-season, totaling 21 receptions in two Super Bowls (XXXVIII, XXXIX). He recorded a game-high 10 receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown in the Patriots' 32–29 Super Bowl XXXVIII victory over the Carolina Panthers. He was named the Super Bowl MVP after tying a Super Bowl record with 11 receptions in the Patriots' 24–21 victory over the Eagles in Super Bowl XXXIX.

Notable games

Mills Kills

Louisville 27, #20 Southern Miss 30

November 30, 1999 | Louisville, Kentucky (41,826)

Louisville was tied 27–27 with Southern Miss with under two minutes to go with the 1999 Conference USA title on the line. Facing fourth and 5 at the Louisville 37, Southern Miss went into punt formation. Shawn Mills was leaving the field after getting into a heated discussion with head coach Jeff Bower. The punter, Jamie Purser, threw a 27-yard pass to Mills which led to a Brett Hanna field goal attempt that won the game.

Rain Game

Louisville 26, #4 Florida State 20

September 26, 2002 | Louisville, Kentucky (38,109)

In a driving rainstorm, remnants of Hurricane Isidore, Louisville hosted the #4-ranked Florida State Seminoles to overtime with a 20–20 tie. In the first play of overtime, FSU QB Chris Rix threw an interception to Louisville's Anthony Floyd. On the second play of overtime, Louisville's Henry Miller took a hand-off from quarterback Dave Ragone and went 25 yards for the game-winning touchdown; the final score was 26–20. The PJCS crowd stormed the field and tore down the goal posts.

Bobby Petrino era (2003–2006)

Bobby Petrino, Auburn offensive coordinator and a former Louisville offensive coordinator under Smith, was hired to be the new head football coach. Petrino also served as offensive coordinator for the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars under Tom Coughlin and tutored Jake Plummer while serving as an assistant coach at Arizona State.[13] Petrino had a reputation for being an offensive juggernaut, and the results showed. The high-scoring offense that was seen during John L. Smith's tenure not only continued but got better under Petrino's guidance. The Cards earned national rankings as high as sixth in 2004 and 2006 during Petrino's tenure. Petrino went 41–9 in four seasons as head football coach, the best winning percentage (.82) of any head coach in Louisville football history. Prior to the 2006 season, Petrino agreed to a ten-year contract extension with Louisville, giving the impression he was going to be at Louisville for the long haul.[14] Louisville went 12–1 in 2006, winning the Big East championship and the Orange Bowl, the school's first appearance in a Bowl Championship Series bowl game. The Cardinals had hopes of playing in the BCS National Championship Game before losing at Rutgers in November. After winning the Orange Bowl, and only six months after agreeing to a contract extension, Petrino left after accepting an offer to be the head coach of the NFL's Atlanta Falcons, a position he resigned before completing his first season, after 13 games.

During his first tenure as head coach, Petrino coached the likes of Stefan LeFors, Brian Brohm, Hunter Cantwell, Michael Bush, Harry Douglas, Gary Barnidge, Elvis Dumervil, Amobi Okoye and William Gay.

Notable games

Miami part 2

Louisville 38, #3 Miami 41

October 14, 2004 | Miami, Fl (63,715)

It had been 54 years since Louisville would field a team that could compete with Miami. Louisville once again took a team down to Miami in hopes of pulling off a stunning upset. The Cardinals walked into the Orange Bowl to face the # 3 Miami Hurricanes riding a 30 home game winning streak. This game would be played on Thursday night and give Louisville rare national exposure for their emerging football program.

The Cards were led by Stefan LeFors who had the #17 ranked Cardinals undefeated and ready to take-down Miami. LaFors led the way with great passing and his scrambling abilities in the first half as Louisville took a 24–7 lead into halftime. Louisville's defense was able to hold Miami to 3 three and outs in the second quarter as they added 17 points and created a 21-point lead. Running backs Eric Shelton, Lionel Gates and Michael Bush led a three headed monster as the offense was able to balance its attack in the first half.

In the second half Louisville would try to halt Miami's offense and come away with an upset. Miami was able to pull the game within striking distance late in the 3rd quarter and would take the lead on an untouched Devin Hester 78 yard punt return for a touchdown. Louisville had been kicking away from the dangerous return man all game but Hester made them pay when Brent Moody sent it Hester's way. Early on the 4th quarter Lefors would leave the game with a concussion as he fumbled the ball leading to a Miami touchdown. Brian Brohm would enter the game and this would be the first real action highly touted freshmen would see. Brohm and Gates would lead the drive to retake the lead 38–34, with 4 minutes left to play. With another huge return by Hester to give Miami great field position. Miami would eat away yardage and the clock until they got into the redzone. Kerry Rhodes, who had already had an interception in the game, dropped a potential game ending pass from Miami's Berlin with 1:38 remaining. Louisville would get another chance to end game on a fourth and four that Miami was able to convert on a 5 yards pass that eventually led to a Miami touchdown and subsequent win.

Lefors would go 17 for 22 with 242 yards and 3 touchdowns before being sidelined for the game. Gates would rush for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns for the night leading all running backs. But the game really showed the direction that coach Petrino was leading the Cardinals and the future looked bright with Louisville entering into the Big East Conference the following season. The Cardinals would finish the season 11–1, finish with a #9 ranking and win against another rising program when they defeated Boise State in the Liberty Bowl with a final score of 44–40.

First Big East Game

Louisville 44, #25 West Virginia 46 (3OT)

October 15, 2005 | Morgantown Wv. (59,797)

Louisville was the preseason favorite to win the Big East in 2005, their first season in the league. The then-#19 Cardinals got off to a great start, leading the unranked Mountaineers 17–0 at the half, and limiting the Mountaineers to just 56 total yards in the first half. Louisville continued to hold steady until WVU quarterback Adam Bednarik left the game with an injury. The Mountaineers' dual-threat backup QB Patrick White entered the game and, along with running back Steve Slaton, took charge. With 8:16 left in the fourth quarter, and Louisville leading 24–7, West Virginia reeled off 17 unanswered points to send the game into overtime. The extra periods were heated, with each team matching the other step-for-step. During the third overtime, West Virginia's Slaton ran in a touchdown, with wide receiver Dorrell Jalloh pulling in the 2-point conversion. Louisville answered back, with Michael Bush scoring on a 3-yard run. During UL's 2-point attempt, the Mountaineers covered all of Louisville's wideouts, forcing Brohm to tuck and go. West Virginia defensive back Eric Wicks spotted Brohm rushing, and stuffed him at the 3 yard-line. The Mountaineers defeated the Cardinals in three overtimes, 46–44. Louisville would go on to face Virginia Tech in the Toyota Gator Bowl.

First Blackout Game

#5 Louisville 44, #3 West Virginia 34

November 2, 2006 | Louisville, Kentucky (43,217)

On a freezing night in early November, the undefeated, #5-ranked Louisville Cardinals played the undefeated, #3-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers in front of the largest national audience to watch an ESPN-broadcast college football game. Louisville was the first team all season to physically match West Virginia's running game, and this resulted in an injury to Steve Slaton. This affected his ball handling, causing him to fumble the ball three times. One was recovered for a Louisville touchdown by linebacker Malik Jackson. Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm threw for 354 yards and one touchdown in a 44–34 Louisville victory over the Mountaineers.

2007 Orange Bowl

Louisville 24, Wake Forest 13

January 2, 2007 | Miami (74,730)

Anthony Allen scored two touchdowns, one on a trick play, and Brian Brohm threw for 311 yards to lead Louisville past Wake Forest 24–13 in the 2007 Fed-Ex Orange Bowl. The Cardinals averaged 39 points and ranked second in the nation in total offense this season, but fell behind 13–10 in the final period before their offense went into high gear. Alphonso Smith nearly blocked Carmody's errant kick and also harried Louisville's punter into a 14- yard boot that set up a 44-yard field goal by Sam Swank of Wake Forest. But Sam Swank made a 36-yarder to cap a 61-yard drive and put the Demon Deacons ahead 13–10 early in the fourth quarter. The Cardinals responded with an eight-play drive capped by Allen's 1-yard plunge for a 17–13 lead with 12:31 to go. They quickly forced a punt, and mounted a 10-play drive that ended with Brock Bolen's 18-yard scoring run. Brohm finished 24-for-34 and was chosen the game's most valuable player. The Demon Deacons trailed 10–3 at halftime but scored on their first possession of the third period when Nate Morton slipped behind the Louisville secondary to catch a 30-yard TD pass from Skinner.

Steve Kragthorpe era (2007–2009)

Less than 48 hours after Petrino's departure for the Atlanta Falcons, Steve Kragthorpe was hired from Tulsa, where he had gone 29–22 in four seasons as the head football coach. Things began to go downhill in Kragthorpe's first season as the Cardinals, fresh off an Orange Bowl win with most of the players returning, began the season ranked in the top 10 in the AP and Coaches' Poll but struggled to a 6–6 record and weren't invited to a bowl for the first time since Ron Cooper's final season in 1997. A 5–7 2008 season followed that, and after finishing the 2009 season 4–8, Jurich fired Kragthorpe.[15] Much of the fan base and media felt like Kragthorpe underachieved, wasn't a strong recruiter, and never had control of the program throughout his tenure as head coach.

Charlie Strong era (2010–2013)

Coach Strong

On December 9, 2009, Charlie Strong was hired as Louisville's 21st head coach. Strong had been a defensive coordinator for 11 years at South Carolina and Florida, studying under the likes of Lou Holtz and Urban Meyer. Strong is the second African American head football coach in Louisville football history.

Although obtaining his first head coaching position at the age of 50, Strong's energy immediately rejuvenated the Louisville fan base. After back to back 7–6 seasons in 2010 and 2011, Strong led Louisville to an 11–2 season in 2012 capped with a Sugar Bowl win over Florida, Louisville's second BCS game victory in school history, and after the season, Strong agreed to terms on a new contract that made him the seventh-highest paid head football coach in the country.[16]

Strong's 2013 Cardinals team posted a 12–1 overall record with a dominating victory over Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl. The 12-win season was the Cardinals' second in program history.

On November 28, 2012, it was announced that Louisville would join the Atlantic Coast Conference, beginning in 2014.

On January 4, 2014, it was announced that head coach Charlie Strong was leaving Louisville to accept the head football coach position at Texas.[17]

Notable games

2013 AllState Sugar Bowl

#22 Louisville 33, #4 Florida 23

January 2, 2013 | New Orleans, La. (54,178)

Louisville safety Calvin Pryor predicted the Cardinals would "shock the world" against Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Terell Floyd returned an interception 38 yards for a touchdown on the first play, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater directed a handful of scoring drives and No. 22 Louisville stunned the fourth-ranked Gators 33–23 in the Sugar Bowl. Bridgewater was 20 of 32 passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns against the heavily favored Gators. Among his throws was a pinpoint, 15-yard timing toss that DeVante Parker acrobatically grabbed as he touched one foot down in the corner of the end zone. His other scoring strike went to Damian Copeland from 19 yards one play after a surprise onside kick by the Gators backfired badly. Jeremy Wright had short touchdown run which gave the two-touchdown underdogs from the Big East a 14–0 lead from which the Gators never recovered. Down 33–10 midway through the fourth period, Florida tried to rally. Andre Debose scored on a 100-yard kickoff return and Driskel threw a TD pass to tight end Kent Taylor with 2:13 left. But when Louisville defenders piled on Driskel to thwart the 2-point try, the game was essentially over.

Petrino's Return (2014–present)

In January 2014, seven years after leaving for the Atlanta Falcons, Bobby Petrino left Western Kentucky to return to Louisville as head coach after Strong's departure.[18]

Notable games

Louisville Runs Away from FSU on ESPN 'GameDay' Debut

#10 Louisville 63, #2 Florida State 20

September 17, 2016 | Louisville, KY. (55,632)


Papa John's Cardinal Stadium

The Louisville Cardinals football team plays its home games at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Prior to that the team played its games at Cardinal Stadium. The stadium was constructed with a capacity of 42,000 in 1998 for $63 million. However, the university completed a major expansion and renovation for the 2010 season. The $72 million project, which began in December 2008, features an elevated south-end terrace connecting the east and west sides of the stadium, 33 additional suites, 1,725 additional club seats, a second 100-yard-long club room, and 13,000 more chairback seats, bringing the total capacity to 55,000-plus.

Papa John's Cardinal Stadium will play host to its 17th season of Cardinal football in 2014 and has become one of the best home fields in the country. Specifically, since 1998, the Cardinals are 70–25 at home. Louisville went undefeated at home in 2001 and 2006 and won a school-record 20 straight home games from 2004 to 2007 (Syracuse snapped the streak with a 38–35 win in 2007). The structure, which sits on the south end of the metropolitan campus, is constructed with the ability for future expansion to more than 80,000 seats.[19]

The Howard Schnellenberger Football Complex which honors the former Cardinal head coach, also sits inside the stadium area and houses the team's coaches, staff, training room, strength and conditioning area and academic services for the student athletes. Schnellenberger initially proposed building the on-campus Papa John's Cardinal Stadium during his tenure at Louisville and is credited with keeping the project alive.[20]

Attendance records

  1. 55,632 vs. Florida State, September 18, 2016 [21]
  2. 55,428 vs. Miami, September 1, 2014 [22]
  3. 55,414 vs. Florida State, October 30, 2014 [23]
  4. 55,396 vs. Clemson, September 17, 2015 [24]
  5. 55,386 vs. Kentucky, September 2, 2012 [25]
  6. 55,332 vs. Ohio, September 1, 2013 [26]
  7. 55,327 vs. Kentucky, September 4, 2010 [27]
  8. 55,215 vs. UCF, October 18, 2013 [28]
  9. 55,168 vs. Rutgers, October 10, 2013 [29]
  10. 55,106 vs. Cincinnati, October 15, 2010 [30]

Old Cardinal Stadium

Cardinal Stadium is the name of a former college and minor league baseball and college football stadium in Louisville, Kentucky. It is on the grounds of the Kentucky Exposition Center, and was called Fairgrounds Stadium when it first opened its doors to baseball in 1957.

The lone Bluegrass Bowl was held here in 1958. Cardinal Stadium was home to the Louisville Raiders football team from 1960 through 1962. It was the home to two minor league baseball teams in Louisville: the Louisville Colonels in 1968–1972 and the Louisville Redbirds in 1982–1999. It was to be the home of the American League Kansas City Athletics when their owner Charles O. Finley signed a contract to move the team to Louisville in 1964, but the American League owners voted against the move. The Kentucky Trackers of the AFA played at Cardinal Stadium 1979–1980. It also served as the home of the University of Louisville football team from 1957 to 1997 and their baseball team 1998–2004. It was also used heavily as a high school football stadium, hosting state championship games from in 1964–2002, including hosting all four state championship games played annually 1979–2002. Several local schools also played some games in Cardinal Stadium prior to 1998, including the annual St. XavierTrinity rivalry featuring the two major boys Catholic high schools in the city (a game now played at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium).

Attendance records for Cardinal Stadium

1. 40,457 (11) Tennessee Sept. 5, 1991 L, 11–28

2. 39,826 (1) Penn State Sept. 20 1997 L, 21–57

Trager Center

The University of Louisville's Trager Center indoor practice facility just north of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, was officially opened on Thursday, Dec. 1 and used by the Cardinal football team. The indoor practice facility features a 120-yard FieldTurf field, a 100-meter four-lane sprint track, pole vault and long jump pits, as well as, batting cages for both baseball and softball. It's also equipped for the soccer, field hockey and lacrosse teams to use.[31]

Louisville Cardinals football seasons and bowl results

Year-by-year results (1946–present)

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs AP#
Frank Camp (Independent) (1946–1962)
1946 Louisville Cardinals 6–2
1947 Louisville Cardinals 7–0–1
1948 Louisville Cardinals 5–5
1949 Louisville Cardinals 8–3
1950 Louisville Cardinals 3–6–1
1951 Louisville Cardinals 5–4
1952 Louisville Cardinals 3–5
1953 Louisville Cardinals 1–7
1954 Louisville Cardinals 3–6
1955 Louisville Cardinals 7–2
1956 Louisville Cardinals 6–3
1957 Louisville Cardinals 9–1 W Sun Bowl
1958 Louisville Cardinals 4–4
1959 Louisville Cardinals 6–4
1960 Louisville Cardinals 7–2
1961 Louisville Cardinals 6–3
1962 Louisville Cardinals 6–4
Frank Camp (Missouri Valley Conference) (1963–1968)
1963 Louisville Cardinals 3–7 1–3 5th
1964 Louisville Cardinals 1–9 1–3 T-4th
1965 Louisville Cardinals 6–4 3–1 2nd
1966 Louisville Cardinals 6–4 1–3 T-4th
1967 Louisville Cardinals 5–5 2–2 4th
1968 Louisville Cardinals 5–5 2–3 T-4th
Frank Camp: 118–95–2 10–15
Lee Corso (Missouri Valley Conference) (1969–1972)
1969 Louisville Cardinals 5–4–1 2–3 T-3rd
1970 Louisville Cardinals 8–3–1 4–0 1st T Pasadena Bowl
1971 Louisville Cardinals 6–3–1 3–2 5th
1972 Louisville Cardinals 9–1 4–1 T-1st 18
Lee Corso: 28–11–3 13–6
Tom W. Alley (Missouri Valley Conference) (1973–1974)
1973 Louisville Cardinals 5–6 3–3 T-3rd
1974 Louisville Cardinals 4–7 3–2 2nd
Tom W. Alley: 9–13 6–5
Vince Gibson (Independent) (1975–1979)
1975 Louisville Cardinals 2–9
1976 Louisville Cardinals 5–6
1977 Louisville Cardinals 7–4–1 L Independence Bowl
1978 Louisville Cardinals 7–4
1979 Louisville Cardinals 4–6–1
Vince Gibson: 25–29–2
Bob Weber (Independent) (1980–1984)
1980 Louisville Cardinals 5–6
1981 Louisville Cardinals 5–6
1982 Louisville Cardinals 5–6
1983 Louisville Cardinals 3–8
1984 Louisville Cardinals 2–9
Bob Weber: 20–35
Howard Schnellenberger (Independent) (1985–1994)
1985 Louisville Cardinals 2–9
1986 Louisville Cardinals 3–8
1987 Louisville Cardinals 3–7–1
1988 Louisville Cardinals 8–3
1989 Louisville Cardinals 6–5
1990 Louisville Cardinals 10–1–1 W Fiesta Bowl 14
1991 Louisville Cardinals 2–9
1992 Louisville Cardinals 5–6
1993 Louisville Cardinals 9–3 W Liberty Bowl 24
1994 Louisville Cardinals 6–5
Howard Schnellenberger: 54–56–2
Ron Cooper (Independent) (1995)
1995 Louisville Cardinals 7–4
Ron Cooper (Conference USA) (1996–1997)
1996 Louisville Cardinals 5–6 2–3 T-3rd
1997 Louisville Cardinals 1–10 0–6 7th
Ron Cooper: 13–20 2–9
John L. Smith (Conference USA) (1998–2002)
1998 Louisville Cardinals 7–5 4–2 3rd L Motor City Bowl
1999 Louisville Cardinals 7–5 4–2 T-2nd L Humanitarian Bowl
2000 Louisville Cardinals 9–3 6–1 1st L Liberty Bowl
2001 Louisville Cardinals 11–2 6–1 1st W Liberty Bowl 17
2002 Louisville Cardinals 7–6 5–3 T-3rd L GMAC Bowl
John L. Smith: 41–21 25–9
Bobby Petrino (Conference USA) (2003–2004)
2003 Louisville Cardinals 9–4 5–3 T-3 L GMAC Bowl
2004 Louisville Cardinals 11–1 8–0 1st W Liberty Bowl 6
Bobby Petrino (Big East) (2005–2006)
2005 Louisville Cardinals 9–3 5–2 2nd L Gator Bowl 19
2006 Louisville Cardinals 12–1 6–1 1st W Orange Bowl 6
Bobby Petrino: 41–9 24–6
Steve Kragthorpe (Big East) (2007–2009)
2007 Louisville Cardinals 6–6 3–4 T-5th
2008 Louisville Cardinals 5–7 1–6 T-7th
2009 Louisville Cardinals 4–8 1–6 T-7th
Steve Kragthorpe: 15–21 5–16
Charlie Strong (Big East) (2010–2012)
2010 Louisville Cardinals 7–6 3–4 T-5th W Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl
2011 Louisville Cardinals 7–6 5–2 T-1st L Belk Bowl
2012 Louisville Cardinals 11–2 5–2 T-1st W Sugar Bowl 13
Charlie Strong (American Athletic Conference) (2013)
2013 Louisville Cardinals 12–1 7–1 2nd W Russell Athletic Bowl 15
Charlie Strong: 37–15 20–9
Bobby Petrino (ACC) (2014–present)
2014 Louisville Cardinals 9–4 5–3 3rd, Atlantic L Belk Bowl 24
2015 Louisville Cardinals 8–5 5–3 3rd, Atlantic W Music City Bowl
2016 Louisville Cardinals 9–3 7–1
Bobby Petrino: 67–21 41–13
Total: 504–453–17
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title
Indicates Bowl Coalition, Bowl Alliance, BCS, or CFP / New Years' Six bowl.


Head coaches

Years Coach Games Record (W-L-T) Winning %
1912–1913 Lester Larson 10 8–2 .800
1914 Dr. Bruce Baker 5 1–4 .200
1915–1916 Will Duffy 13 3–8–2 .272
1921–1922 Bill Duncan 14 4–9–1 .307
1923–1924 Fred Enke 17 8–8–1 .500
1925–1930 Tom King 48 27–21 .562
1931 Jack McGrath 8 0–8 .000
1932 C. V. Money 9 0–9 .000
1933–1935 Ben Cregor 23 4–18–1 .173
1936–1942 Laurie Apitz 54 22–29–3 .407
1946–1968 Frank Camp 215 118–95–2 .554
1969–1972 Lee Corso 42 28–11–3 .717
1973–1974 T.W. Alley 22 9–13 .409
1975–1979 Vince Gibson 56 25–29–2 .462
1980–1984 Bob Weber 55 20–35 .363
1985–1994 Howard Schnellenberger 112 54–56–2 .490
1995–1997 Ron Cooper 33 13–20 .393
1998–2002 John L. Smith 62 41–21 .661
2003–2006 Bobby Petrino 50 41–9 .820
2007–2009 Steve Kragthorpe 36 15–21 .416
2010–2013 Charlie Strong 52 37–15 .705
2014–present Bobby Petrino
(cumulative record)
1912–present Total 974 504–453–17 .526

Bowl games

Louisville has been to 20 bowl games; their overall bowl record is 10–9–1. During the BCS era (1998–2013), the Cardinals appeared in two BCS bowl games. Louisville attended a bowl each season from 1998 to 2006, and has a current streak of seven seasons with bowl appearances (2010–2016).

Bowl Opponent Result
1957 Sun Bowl Drake W 34–20
1970 Pasadena Bowl Long Beach State T 24–24
1977 Independence Bowl Louisiana Tech L 14–24
1990 Fiesta Bowl Alabama W 34–7
1993 Liberty Bowl Michigan State W 18–7
1998 Motor City Bowl Marshall L 29–48
1999 Humanitarian Bowl Boise State L 31–34
2000 Liberty Bowl Colorado State L 17–22
2001 Liberty Bowl BYU W 28–10
2002 GMAC Bowl Marshall L 15–38
2003 GMAC Bowl Miami (OH) L 28–49
2004 Liberty Bowl Boise State W 44–40
2005 Gator Bowl Virginia Tech L 24–35
2006 Orange Bowl (BCS) Wake Forest W 24–13
2010 Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl Southern Miss W 31–20
2011 Belk Bowl NC State L 24–31
2012 Sugar Bowl (BCS) Florida W 33–23
2013 Russell Athletic Bowl Miami (FL) W 36–9
2014 Belk Bowl Georgia L 14–37
2015 Music City Bowl Texas A&M W 27–21

Conference championships



Current Series stands at 14–14 (14–8 for Louisville in Revival Era)

First Meeting: Oct 28 1912 L, 0 – 41 | Last Meeting:Nov 28 2015 W, 38 – 24 | Next Meeting: Nov 2016 @ Louisville

Louisville and Kentucky football series was revived in 1994 after the success of the basketball series that restarted in 1983. They played all games at Commonwealth Stadium until Papa John's Cardinal Stadium (PJCS) was completed in 1997. The all-time series is 14–14 but in the revived series it is 14–8. Louisville played Kentucky in their first 4 seasons and twice in the 1920s holding the Cardinals scoreless in all contest. Kentucky then left the SIAA in 1922 and joined the Southeastern Conference and has limited its play of state schools since. It would be 70 years before these two schools would face each other again.

In 2013, it was announced that the game would be moved to the final game of the season following Louisville's 2014 move to the ACC. This scheduling change fits with other end of year SEC vs. ACC rivalry games such as Georgia vs. Georgia Tech, Florida vs. Florida State and South Carolina vs. Clemson.

Current Series Stands at 23–19–1 for Louisville

First Meeting: Sept 25 1948 L, 7 – 13 | Last Meeting: Nov 23 2013 W, 24 – 17 | Next Meeting: Presently unknown due to Louisville move to ACC in 2014

Current Series Stands at 22–30–1 for Cincinnati

First Meeting: Nov 4 1922 W, 28 – 0 | Last Meeting: Dec 3 2013 W, 31 – 24 | Next Meeting: Unknown

ACC opponents

Team Games Played 1st Meeting Last Meeting Record (W-L-T) Last Result
Boston College* 9 Oct. 18, 1986 Nov. 5, 2016 6–3–0 W 52–7 @ BC
Clemson* 3 Oct. 11, 2014 Oct. 1, 2016 0–3–0 L 42–36 @ Clemson
Florida St.* 17 Oct. 4, 1952 Sept. 17, 2016 3–14–0 W 63–20 @ Louisville
N. Carolina St.* 7 Nov. 2, 1951 Oct. 22, 2016 6–1–0 W 54–13 @ Louisville
Syracuse* 15 Oct. 5, 1985 Sept. 9, 2016 9–6–0 W 62–28 @ Syracuse
Wake Forest* 4 Jan. 2, 2007 Nov. 12, 2015 4–0–0 W 44–12 @ Louisville
Duke 2 Sept. 7, 2002 Oct. 14, 2016 2–0–0 W 24–14 @ Louisville
Georgia Tech 0 2018 2018 0-0-0 2018
Miami 13 Nov. 11, 1933 Sept. 1, 2014 3–9–1 W 31–13 @ Louisville
N. Carolina 7 Sept. 24, 1988 Sept. 15, 2012 4–3–0 W 39–34 @ Louisville
Pittsburgh 17 Oct. 9, 1976 Nov. 21, 2015 8–9–0 L 34–45 @ Pitt
Virginia 5 Oct. 15, 1988 Oct. 29, 2016 3–2–0 W 32-25 @ UVA
Virginia Tech 7 Sept. 8, 1979 Jan. 2, 2006 2–5–0 L 24–35 Gator Bowl
Notre Dame^ 1 Nov. 22, 2014 Nov. 22, 2014 1–0–0 W 31–28 @ Notre Dame

(*)Division Opponent (^) Associate Member will play every 3 yrs''

Spirit team

The cardinal was chosen as the mascot in 1913 by Dean John Patterson wife to reflect the state bird of Kentucky. The suited mascot wouldn't appear until 1953 when cheerleaders first suited up T. Lee Adams for action.[35] Now the Cardinal Bird dubbed Louie appears at most Louisville sporting events and along with the spirit squad leads the crowds in cheers. During some home football games Louie could be seen parachuting into PJCS on occasion and in the stands starting the C-A-R-D-S chant to the crowd. Other duties are to lead the team onto the field at the start of the game and being apart of pregame and halftime marching band shows.

The cheerleading squads are a national powerhouse with the large co-ed squad winning 15 National Cheerleaders Association Collegiate National championships (1985–86, 1989, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998–99, 2003–05, 2007–09, 2011), the all girl squad winning 9 championships (1998–99, 2001–05, 2009, 2011) and the small co-ed cheerleading squad winning 7 championships (2005–11).[36] The University of Louisville Spirit Groups hold more national titles than any other sport offered at the university. The teams are coached by James Speed, Todd Sharp, Misty Hodges.

The University of Louisville Ladybirds dance team won its seventh national title in 2008, making back-to-back titles for the squad after the win in 2007. In 2004, they successfully defended their crowns from 2002 and 2003 at the National Dance Alliance Collegiate Championship and U of L also won the Universal Dance Association title in 1995 and 1997.The Ladybirds have long been successful, placing in the top five in the national competition 13 of the last 19 years. The group is under the direction of coach Todd Sharp.[37]

The University of Louisville RED RAGE! Marching Band is made up of students. The group has been featured on ESPN, ABC World News Tonight, Oprah, Sports Illustrated, Extreme Makeover:Home Edition, just to name a few. RED RAGE! also has various performance groups in the spring semester including a dance band, a brass band and a spirit band. RED RAGE! is the BAND of CHOICE! to perform My Old Kentucky Home each year at the prestigious Kentucky Derby.[38]

Card March

The University of Louisville football program created its annual Card March tradition prior to all home football contests to help bring fans out to the stadium earlier and to give the football team added inspiration before the game. The tradition began when the team buses would stop on Denny Crum Overpass on Central Ave and walked through the tunnel towards the stadium. Changes arrived in 2013 with the Card March beginning approximately two hours and 15 minutes prior to the announced (example 1:15 p.m. for Sunday's 3:30 p.m. kickoff). The team buses will drop the players off at Floyd Street at the south end of the stadium, which is the entrance to the Bronze D/E lots. After exiting the buses, the team will proceed to enter Gate 4 and then head into the stadium. Fans are encouraged to arrive early and greet the players with the assistance of the UofL marching band, cheerleaders, and Ladybirds. Fans should take note, if there are any bad weather conditions during the scheduled Card March times, that the team will proceed to the back of the Howard Schnellenberger Football Complex and will not travel to the designated Card March location.

Johnny Unitas statue

Right outside of the Schnellenberger Complex, before the north endzone of Papa John's Cardinal Stadium stands the legendary quarterback himself. One of UofL's most celebrated athletes, Johnny U's number 16 jersey is the only football Cardinal jersey with both it and the number retired. This statue helps commemorate Unitas' stellar career, as football players give him a rub for good luck before taking the field.[39]

Spring game

The Louisville spring game is usually held in early April at PJCS. The admission and parking are free for the event and the men's baseball team usually play before or after game. This event give opportunity for fans to see the team and any newcomers that may have come on campus early for spring workouts. 2013 spring game began later and offered dollar beers to draw more fans into attendance. This game has become more popular with the opening of PJCS and increasing higher ranked recruiting classes Louisville has brought in in recent years.

Helmets and logos

Louisville has experienced many changes in helmets over the years. Visually presented below is a list from 1960 to the present day. Before 1960 Louisville would use the traditional brown leather helmets until they would wear all white facemaskless helmets. Louisville jerseys would stay traditionally the same with plain white jersey with red lettering or a red jersey with black lettering. As seen in the picture of Fred Koster vertical stripes was the look for many national teams at the time. With more games being called on the radio the advent of numbers on the helmet and sleeves where made to help identify the players on the field.[40] Sometime in the mid 2000s Louisville added a combination of new uniforms including an all black uniform as an alternative. Recently Louisville and Adidas finalized a contract for roughly 39 million dollars.[41] Since then Adidas and Louisville have paired on many great designs to catch recruits and medias attention. In most recent news Louisville sported an all chrome red helmet against Florida State University on September 17, 2016.[42] A butterfly design was placed on the back of these specific helmets to give tribute to the late Muhammad Ali.[43]

Louisville helmet changes since 1960

Card Chronicle Bird Mask

Louisville's athletic success during 2012–2013 spawned local popularity of a Cardinal mask that resembled a former logo of the blog "Card Chronicle." The mask has become known as CCBM or the Card Chronicle Bird Mask. Photos of Louisville fans donning the mask are often featured in the "News and Notes" posts on the blog. The mask has often been spotted during Louisville athletic broadcasts, and in 2013, a group of Card Chronicle readers started the Card Chronicle Bird Mask March before each home football game. The CCBM March is held adjacent to the more traditional Card March, which features Louisville players and coaches walking into Papa John's Cardinal Stadium prior to all home football games.

Current coaching staff

Name Position
Bobby Petrino[44] Head Coach
Lonnie Galloway Offensive Coordinator/ Wide receiver[45]
Todd Grantham Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
Kolby Smith Running Backs
Nick Petrino Quarterbacks[46]
Keith Heyward Secondary/Cornerbacks
Tony Grantham Special Teams Coordinator/Inside Linebackers
Chris Klenakis Running Game Coordinator/Offensive Line
Cort Dennison Recruiting Coordinator/Asst Secondary
L.D Scott Outside Linebackers
Joe Miday Strength and Conditioning
Scott Wilks Assistant Strength and Conditioning
Andrew Wagner Director of Operations

Current players in NFL

Player Team NFL Playing Career
William Gay Pittsburgh Steelers 2007–present
Gary Barnidge Cleveland Browns 2008–present
Harry Douglas Tennessee Titans 2008–present
Elvis Dumervil Baltimore Ravens 2008–present
Breno Giacomini New York Jets 2008–present[47]
Eric Wood Buffalo Bills 2009–present
Josh Bellamy Chicago Bears 2011–present
Bilal Powell New York Jets 2011–present
Greg Scruggs Chicago Bears 2011–present
Teddy Bridgewater Minnesota Vikings 2014–present
Preston Brown Buffalo Bills 2014–present
Damian Copeland Jacksonville Jaguars 2014–present
Senorise Perry Chicago Bears 2014–present
Calvin Pryor New York Jets 2014–present
Marcus Smith Philadelphia Eagles 2014–present
Jamon Brown Los Angeles Rams 2015–present
Gerald Christian Arizona Cardinals 2015–present
B. J. Dubose Minnesota Vikings 2015–present
Charles Gaines Cleveland Browns 2015–present
Gerod Holliman Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2015–present
Lorenzo Mauldin New York Jets 2015–present
John Miller Buffalo Bills 2015–present
Deiontrez Mount Tennessee Titans 2015–present
DeVante Parker Miami Dolphins 2015–present
Eli Rogers Pittsburgh Steelers 2015–present
James Sample Jacksonville Jaguars 2015–present
Sheldon Rankins New Orleans Saints 2016–present

Individual honors and notable players

Louisville has honored the jerseys of 18 former players. Their numbers remain active, except Johnny Unitas's No. 16 which was retired in his honor.[48]

Retired numbers

Louisville Cardinals retired numbers
No. Player Pos. Career
16 Johnny Unitas QB, S 1951–55

Honored jerseys

(Not retired)

Louisville Cardinals Ring of Honor
No. Player Pos. Career
1 Howard Stevens RB 1969–72
Frank Minnifield DB 1979–82
7 Chris Redman QB 1995–99
9 Deion Branch WR 2000–01
10 Dwayne Woodruff DB, RB 1975–78
11 Jeff Brohm QB 1990–93
13 Sam Madison DB 1993–96
15 Dave Ragone QB 2003-06
26 Lenny Lyles DB, RB 1954–57
34 Ray Buchanan DB 1989–92
42 Ernie Green RB 1958–62
50 Tom Jackson LB 1970–72
Otis Wilson LB 1977–1979
55 Doug Buffone C, LB 1962–65
56 Otto Knop C, LB 1949–52
72 Roman Oben OT 1992–95
75 Joe Jacoby OT 1978–80
77 Bruce Armstrong TE, OT 1983–88
99 Ted Washington NT 1987–90


All Americans and notable players

Consensus and unanimous first-team All-Americans in bold.

Year Name Voter(s)
2014 Gerod Holliman (AP, Walter Camp, Sporting News, AFCA, FWAA, USA Today, CBS, ESPN, Scout, SI First Teams; also Jim Thorpe Award winner)
2013 Marcus Smith (FWAA 1st Team / Athlons, Walter Camp, USA Today 2nd Team / AP, CBS Sports 3rd Team)
2013 Calvin Pryor (Athlon's 2nd Team)
2012 Keith Brown (FOXSports.Net Freshman All-American)
2011 Teddy Bridgewater (CBSSports.com Freshman All-American; Yahoo! Sports Freshman All-American;
Sporting News Freshman All-American; FoxSportsNext Freshman All-American)
2011 Jake Smith (Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-American)
2010 Hakeem Smith (Rivals.com First Team; Phil Steele Freshman All-American Second Team)
2010 Johnny Patrick (Phil Steele Third Team)
2008 Victor Anderson (Sporting News First Team; collegefootballnews.com Second Team)
2007 Brian Brohm (Playboy Magazine)
2007 Harry Douglas (Associated Press Second Team)
2006 Peanut Whitehead (Sporting News First Team)
2006 Art Carmody (Associated Press Second Team)
2006 Kurt Quarterman (Associated Press Third Team)
2006 Latarrius Thomas (Sporting News Third Team)
2006 Art Carmody (SI.com Honorable Mention)
2006 Kurt Quarterman (SI.com Honorable Mention)
2005 Elvis Dumervil (AFCA, Associated Press, Walter Camp, SI.com, collegefootballnews.com First Teams; also Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner)
2005 Eric Wood (Sporting News, Rivals.com First Team)
2005 Eric Wood (collegefootballnews Second Team)
2005 Mario Urrutia (SI.com, Sporting News Honorable Mention)
2005 Rod Council (Sporting News Honorable Mention)
2004 Travis Leffew (Associated Press Third Team)
2002 Broderick Clark (collegefootballnews Second Team)
2001 Bobby Leffew (Sporting News First Team)
2001 Dewayne White (collegefootballnews Second Team)
2001 Dewayne White (Football News, Sporting News Third Teams)
2000 Anthony Floyd (Walter Camp First Team)
2000 Anthony Floyd (Football News, Associated Press Second Teams)
2000 Dave Ragone (Football News Honorable Mention)
2000 Micah Josiah (Football News Honorable Mention)
1999 Ibn Green (AFCA First Team)
1999 Ibn Green (Football News, Sporting News Second Teams)
1999 Chris Redman (Football News Honorable Mention)
1998 Ibn Green (Football News, Sporting News Second Teams)
1998 Ibn Green (Associated Press Third Team)
1996 Sam Madison (Football News First Team)
1996 Sam Madison (Gannett News Third Team)
1996 Sam Madison (Playboy Magazine)
1995 Jamie Asher (Football News, United Press First Teams)
1995 Roman Oben (College Sports, Football News Second Teams)
1995 Tyrus McCloud (Sporting News Second Team)
1995 Sam Madison (College Sports, Associated Press Third Teams)
1995 Tyrus McCloud (Associated Press Third Team)
1995 Roman Oben (Playboy Magazine)
1994 Roman Oben (Gannett News First Team)
1994 Jamie Asher (Sporting News Honorable Mention)
1993 Anthony Bridges (Football News, UPI, Associated Press Second Teams)
1993 Ralph Dawkins (Football News Honorable Mention)
1993 Joe Johnson (United Press Honorable Mention)
1992 Ray Buchanan (Football News Second Team)
1992 Ralph Dawkins (Football News Honorable Mention)
1992 Ray Buchanan (Associated Press Honorable Mention)
1991 Ray Buchanan (Playboy Magazine)
1991 Ray Buchanan (Associated Press Honorable Mention)
1990 Mark Sander (Associated Press Third Team)
1989 Mark Sander (Associated Press Honorable Mention)
1989 Allen Douglas (Associated Press Honorable Mention)
1988 Ted Washington (Sporting News Honorable Mention)
1987 Chris Thieneman (Associated Press Honorable Mention)
1987 Chris Sellers (Associated Press Honorable Mention)
1985 Matt Battaglia (Associated Press Honorable Mention)
1979 Otis Wilson (Sporting News First Team)
1972 Tom Jackson (Walter Camp First Team)
1972 Howard Stevens (Walter Camp, Football News, United Press, Associated Press Second Teams)
1972 Tom Jackson (Associated Press Second Team)
1972 Scott Marcus (Gridiron News Second Team)
1972 Tom Jackson (Football News Third Team)
1972 Tom Jackson (United Press Honorable Mention)
1972 John Madeya (Associated Press Honorable Mention)
1972 Gary Barnes (Associated Press Honorable Mention)
1972 Frank Gitschier (Associated Press Honorable Mention)
1970 Bill Gatti (Associated Press Honorable Mention)
1963 Ken Kortas (Dell Sports First Team)
1961 John Finn (Little America Third Team)
1961 Ernie Green (Honorable Mention)
1957 Lenny Lyles (Associated Press First Team)
1957 Ken Kortas(Playboy Magazine)
1952 Otto Knop (Little America First Team)
1949 Tom Lucia (Associated Press First Team)
1948 Bob Bauer(AP Little America Honorable Mention)
1941 Charles Isenbery (AP Little America Honorable Mention)
1939 Lou Zimlich (Little America First Team)
1930 Tom Thompson (Little America First Team)
1930 Guy Shearer (Little America Honorable Mention)


Notable players

School records

Team records

Offense Game Season Defense Game Season
Tot. Offense 845 yrds vs. Syracuse, 2016 6,468 yrds in 2004 Fewest Yrds Allowed 58 yrds vs. Murray State, 1990 2,106 yrds in 1972
Fewest Tot. Offense 13 yrds vs. Arizona State, 1992 1,989 yrds in 1964 Most Yrds Allowed 801 yrds vs. Kentucky, 1998 5,502 yrdsin 2003
Points Scored 73 points vs. Murray State, 2007 597 points in 2004 Fewest Rushing Yrds -56 yrds vs. Grambling, 2000 879 yrds in 2000
Most Yrds Passing 615 yrds vs. ECU, 1998 4,498 yrds in 1998 Most Rushing Yrds 480 yrds vs. Army, 1999 3,167 yrds in 1975
Fewest Yrds Passing 26 yrds vs. Tulsa, 1991 719 yrds in 1976 Fewest Passing Comp. 2 comp. vs. Southern Miss. 2012 69 comp. in 1971
Most Yrds Rushing 445 yrds vs. Houston, 2003 3,005 yrds in 2004 Most Passing Comp. 43 comp. vs. Tulane, 2000 264 comp. in 2003
Fewest Yrds Rushing 78 yrds vs. Arizona State, 1992 459 yrds in 1964 Fewest Pts. Allowed 0 points 11 times 91 points in 1972
Rushing Att. 66 att. vs. NIU, 1995 685 att. in 1977 Most Pts. Allowed 68 points vs. Kentucky, 1998 429 points in 1985

^Records are from modern era

Individual records

Category Game Season Career
Total Offense
Lamar Jackson, SU, 2016
4,928* (Active)
L. Jackson, 2016
Chris Redman, 1996–99
Total TD's
Responsible For
L. Jackson, UNC-C, 2016
51* (Active)
L. Jackson, 2016
C. Redman, 1996–99
TD's Scored
Eric Shelton, ECU, 2004
A. Cummings, UC, 1990
Leroy Collins, WKU, 1998
Michael Bush, 2005
Lenny Lyles, 1954–57
Passing Yards 592
C. Redman, ECU, 1998
C. Redman, 1998
C. Redman, 1996–99
Passing Comp. 45
Brian Brohm, SU, 2007
C. Redman, 1999
C. Redman, 1996–99
Passing TD's 6
C. Redman, ECU, 1998
L. Jackson, UNC-C, 2016
Teddy Bridgewater, 2013
C. Redman, 1996–99
Passing % 90.5
T. Bridgewater, UK, 2012
Stefan LeFors, 2004
T. Bridgewater, 2011–13
Rushing Yards 275
Anthony Allen, MTSU, 2007
1,538* (Active)
L. Jackson, 2016
Walter Peacock, 1972–75
Rushing Attempts 40
W. Peacock, Wich. St., 1974
N. Poole, Wich. St., 1978
W. Peacock, 1973
W. Peacock, 1972–75
Rushing TD's 5
E. Shelton, ECU, 2004
Leroy Collins, WKU, 1998
M. Bush, 2005
L. Lyles, 1954–57
Receiving Yards 223
Harry Douglas, UK, 2007
H. Douglas, 2006
Arnold Jackson, 1997–00
Receptions 15
Ibn Green, ECU, 1998
A. Jackson, UC, 1999
A. Jackson, 1999
A. Jackson, 1997–00
Receiving TD's 5
A. Cummings, UC, 1990
I. Green, 1998
DeVante Parker, 2013
I. Green, 1996–99
Field Goals 4
Nate Smith, Houston, 2000
Art Carmody, Pitt, 2005
B. Creque, NC St., 2016
A. Carmody, 2006
John Wallace, 2015–2016
Field Goal % .875
A. Carmody, (14–16), 2005
A. Carmody, (60–73), 2004–07
Tackles 35
Doug Buffone, Kent St., 1965
D. Buffone, 1965
Mark Sander, 1987–90
Tackles for Loss 7
Elvis Dumervil, UK, 2005
Dewayne White, 2001
Elvis Dumervil, 2005
Dewayne White, 2000–02
Sacks 6
E. Dumervil, UK, 2005
E. Dumervil, 2005
D. White, 2000–02
Interceptions 5
Tom Giannini, EKU, 1933
Gerod Holliman, 2014
Anthony Floyd, 1999–02

Longest Passing Play: 94 yards from B. Karns to G. Sartini, Wash & Lee, 1950

Longest Rushing Play: 93 yards by Ken Porco, EKU, 1958

Future non-conference opponents

Announced schedules as of October 27, 2016

2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023 2024 2025
vs Charlotte Purdue (at Indianapolis, IN) Alabama (at Orlando, FL) vs Notre Dame at Notre Dame vs Notre Dame vs Indiana at Indiana
at Marshall vs Kent State vs Indiana State at Western Kentucky (at Nashville, TN) vs Western Kentucky Indiana (at Indianapolis, IN)
at Houston Cougars vs Murray State vs Western Kentucky
vs Kentucky at Kentucky vs Kentucky at Kentucky vs Kentucky



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Additional sources

External links

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