Each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the Eye on College Football examines what current hot topic the fans of one BCS team are obsessing over -- rationally or not. Today's team: the Louisville Cardinals .
What they're talking about it … Managing expectations in a coaching transition. Well, at this exact moment, there is a lot of chatter about basketball. Louisville fell to Cincinnati at on Thursday night in a crucial AAC matchup, leaving Cardinals fans frustrated with two home conference losses in the last month (Cincinnati, Memphis). But with national signing day less than a week away, Louisville fans are keeping their eye on the last minute moves from Bobby Petrino and his staff. Bringing in Petrino means a heightened focus on skill position players on offense (exciting for fans), but the departure of Charlie Strong and the de-commits that followed have resulted in some concern for the 2014 recruiting class.
Louisville's recruiting classes from 2011-13 never broke the Top 25 (No. 29, No. 45 and No. 36 according to the 247Sports Composite rankings), but the recent fallout (including a de-commit from four-star defensive tackle Poona Ford) has dropped the Cardinals to No. 52 in the nation and No. 10 in the ACC.
What they're saying is … Give CBP some time! Petrino still has plenty of supporters around Louisville -- one of the reasons athletic director Tom Jurich may have felt comfortable acting so swiftly after Strong's exit. You can see that support on the message board, where fans have shown patience despite the lack of star power in the recruiting class. Below is a collection of fan sentiment from the 247Sports boards.
• On defensive back Shaq Jones possibly flipping from Louisville to Georgia: "What does shock me is how easily they can possibly come in and snatch him up when UL was the first D1 to come and actually offer you a scholly. Whats even more shocking is that all these predictions for all those kids we have had visit none have us as the winner. I dont know what is going on but maybe these other coaches are using Petrinos past baggage against him to the parents..its the only logical thing i can think of, not to be negative but am sorry fellas something isnt right here."
• Petrino's supporters cape up to defend him: "Or it's because he has been on the job for 2-3 weeks. Recruiting classes are always torn apart during coaching changes. We are doing fine right now since our cahnge just happened. Wait until our product hits the field and see if recruiting doesnt pick up next year and the year after."
• "I am very positive about our team but it does seem we are facing an uphill battle in recruiting and it doesn't seem to be just about the staff being "new"."
• "We are facing an uphill battle THIS YEAR. You cannot ignore the fact that this staff has been recruiting for the CARDS for THREE WEEKS. That is not an excuse-it is a FACT. Look and see who we are recruiting against. With the exception of Mack, we are going against some big time programs. Now, next year at this time, we are going thru the same thing, then CONCERN will set in. But right now, we are doing a helluva job up to this point. Lets wait until signing day before we make a final judgement"
• "I really expected the last month before signing day to be hectic regardless of who was hired as coach and it appears that assumption was correct. It's got to be tough trying to hang onto and piece together an entire recruiting class in one month. I sympathize with the task that was laid at Petrino's feet. I'm sure after a year in the ACC next year will be more smooth and they won't have to scramble quite so much for recruits."
What we're saying is … Unknowns make fans nervous, and at Louisville there are plenty. Louisville fans have to deal with both a coaching transition and a conference transition at the same time. It is an unsettling position to be in while every other fan base is in the "This is the year for US" mode that accompanies January and February. The last month has featured mostly negative recruiting news and the release of a schedule that includes Florida State, Clemson, Notre Dame and a season-opener against Miami.
It makes sense for Louisville fans to be concerned with the struggles on the recruiting trail. But it's a little early for frustration, and way too early for panic.