It’s Howling Time… Kentucky Derby 144


Derby Week is the one time during the sports cycle that I feel completely out of place. This is the week that the Universty of Louisville and those who cover it go to the horses. The UofL band will play my Old Kentucky Home at the Derby for the 82nd time today, New Mens Basketball Coach Chris Mack called ”Riders Up” at Oaks and you’ll catch a glance at Cardinal Stadium as the horses come down the stretch.

The who’s who of Louisville Sports folks have spent all week on the backside at Churchill Downs covering the 4 legged athletes. Usually, I’d have an urge to be right in the mix but not this week. I don’t know anything about horse racing. Nothing! But I do enjoy watching and betting on the yearly event. And every year that leads me on a hunt for any advice I can get before my wager.

About 7 or 8 years ago that hunt landed me on Justin TV. Anyone remember that streaming site? I stumbled upon a guy who calls himself the Howling Wolf. He had an interactive horse racing show on Justin TV. There was always a room full of folks watching him pick winners and letting out a big Howl after doing so. Trust me folks this guy picks winners.

I have hit several pick 4’s over the years and cashed more than a few tickets with the Howling Wolf. I recently found my old friend again on Facebook. Feeling like the only Louisville Blogger that isn’t somehow connected to this week I asked the Howling Wolf if he’d write something for the Big Race. He was nice enough to share his Derby Picks with us.

KENTUCKY DERBY SELECTIONS:

TOP SELECTION :
#12 ENTICED 30/1- GOT BUMPED TWICE IN THE WOOD MEMORIAL BY VINO ROSSO. WILL BE STALKING THE PACE EARLY AND SHOULD START MOVING UP CLOSER TO THE PACE IN HALF WAY INTO THE RACE AND GIVE HIS BEST KICK DOWN THE STRETCH.
THE JOCKEY ALAVARADO STAYS ABOARD

2ND CHOICE :
#5 AUDIBLE- HAS FACE AND BEATEN SOME OF THE HORSES IN THE FIELD. GETTING CASTELLANO BACK ABOARD AND WITH HIM ABOARD HAS WON BY ALMOSE 16 LENGHTS ABOARD. LIKES TO STALK CLOSE TO PACE AND GETS TIRED LATE FROM THAT. ILL LIKE TO SEE HIM STALKING BUT NOT TOO CLOSE TO SEE HIM GIVE A BETTER LATE MOVE.

3RD CHOICE:

#16 MAGNUM MOON 6/1- IS 4 FOR 4 TRYING FOR THE 5 STRAIGHT TO STAY UNDEFEATED. WILL LIKE THE STRETCH OUT IN DISTANCE. SO GREAT WORKOUTS THE LAST ONE WAS 47.70 BREZING AT THE CHURCHILL DOWNS TRACK ON APRIL 29TH.

GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE!

There you go, folks! The Cardinals Beak finally gave you some Derby love. I really appreciate the Howling Wolf for his Derby Picks. If you are looking for a cheat sheet for the rest of the Derby Day slate please consider giving my friend a look. I hope you are Howling when the winners cross the finish line today. Good Luck!

Here’s the link to Howling Wolfs site:

HOWLING WOLF’S HORSE RACING PICKS

HAPPY DERBY DAY!

Coach Mack finally gets his man


It’s no surprise that we have had our problems recruiting, and securing transfers. And can’t you blame the kids? Louisville has not been in the best light as of late. But the ship is headed in the right direction. With the pickup of graduate transfer Christen Cunningham from Samford, it is a huge boost to our program.

Cunningham missed a majority of last season due to an illness but was cleared to play another season. The former Henry Clay star is returning home. The last time he was here he put up 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists on our Cards at The Yum last season.

Cunningham is a true guard and with the loss of Q this will pay out huge. He will be a huge experience boost on the court and at the guard position. He is an assist monster, so with some of the shooters that I think will step up this year including McMahon I think it will blend well.

Cunningham is a huge boost for our program for what he brings to the court, but also to the program as a whole as we are rebounding from a rough spot in recruiting.

Welcome to the Ville Christen!!!
L’s UP!

Maxwell Bird
#L1C4

Photos & Post Game Thoughts Spring Game 2018



Pass’ Pass

Pass played well overall. I feel currently he is our guy. He had some turnovers that bother me but are fixable. He struck me as his nerves had a little bit of him. Hopefully this will get worked out. With him being a non-contact target, we didn’t get to see much oh him running minus a few scrambles to the Line of scrimmage. He is physically larger which makes me much more comfortable at the quarterback position, especially for a mobile QB. And I won’t get tired of hearing Pass’ pass no matter how annoying it is over and over ha-ha

Malik…. Malik Cunningham was the biggest surprise for me of the spring game. Malik played excellent. He ran the ball great and was almost dead on his passes. My eyes will be on him 10x more!

Dez Fitzpatrick – What else can you say but SPECTACULAR. He had some great catches, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him become a #1 target for Pass.

Kemari Averett…. HUGE. He stood out to me. It may have been his 6’6″ 265lbs stature… or the 5 catches for 37 yards… that doesn’t sound like much but after a season where a 6-yard pass seemed difficult at times this is huge for me.

I’m happy with defense. White team had a pick and a fumble recovery. Hopefully it carries over into takeaways into the season.

Was great to see so many former Cards players at the half time awards ceremony. Between Deion Branch signing his name and taking pictures along the sideline (took him 30 minutes to get 50 yards to leave) to Jaire Alexander coming into the stands forever to sign autographs and take pictures. A line formed in the stands on the home side and he happily seen all that he could…They showed the truth in #L1C4

And the new catch phrase….

PASS’ PASS…

Maxwell Bird
#L1C4

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“It’s your time” A Spring Game Preview



“It’s your time.” The phone call that Jawon Pass received from Coach Petrino just a few months ago when Lamar Jackson decided to take his game to the NFL. The end of another great quarterback era in Louisville… The end of our first Heisman Trophy winner’s reign… The end to one of the most entertaining college athletes to ever spin across the gridiron. The man who gave us some of the most memorable wins in our program’s history. But all great things must come to an end, and instead of being sad or hopeless we should be excited to see what the future holds.

Our future is bright at Louisville, from a great player stepping up at quarterback that has now had years of experience under a Heisman winning quarterback, too upperclassmen in key positions at receiver, linebacker, and safety. So what do we expect to see at the Spring Game on Saturday?

First off, I was lucky enough to watch Jawon play in high school at Carver in Georgia when Louisville played Auburn in Atlanta in 2015. The Man was amazing to watch as a high school player. He brought a spark to the field that reminds me of Lamar. I am extremely excited to see him take a team that is 100% his now and see what he is capable of early on before the season starts. He is a playmaker that is more than capable of making plays in the air or on the ground. He may not be as fast as Lamar, but running a 4.5 40 yard dash I think he is more than capable on the ground. He can air it out and punish a secondary in the blink of an eye. Jawon will be an amazing player to watch develop in the offseason and through the season, and I’m happy to say I think he will make a great impact on our team.

Another key area to watch is our Receiver stable. Senior Jaylen Smith, Redshirt sophomore Dez Fitzpatrick, and sophomore Josh Johnson are a talented core of receivers that are expected to be at the top of the depth chart as of now. Jaylen Smith is a proven player that has put up nearly 1000 yards (980) and 60 catches in 10 games last year. Smith missed the first practice of the season to an undisclosed injury but we are hoping to see him lead the receiver core Saturday as one of the only expected seniors on offense expected to start as of now.

At tight end, we are used to hearing the name Crum a 5th-year senior, but we may need to get used to hearing Kemari Averett much more. Averett a Sophmore is expected to be the starting tight end on paper, but expect to see Crum have plenty of playing time as with Jordan Davis. Switching up tight ends have become a major part of the offense in today’s football, and with the mindset of Coach P, the options are endless.

At running back with the loss of seniors Reggie Bonnafon, Jeremy Smith, and Malik Williams expect to see Dae Williams, R-Sophmore, Colin Wilson, Sophmore, and Trey Smith, R-Junior all take handoffs from Pass in the spring game. Much in the running back is up in the air as of now, but expect by the time we step on the field with Alabama it to be figured out.

Stacy Thomas is a major loss for us at Linebacker, but I expect to see 5th year senior Isaac Stewart (OLB), Freshman Robert Hicks (MLB), and sophomore Dorian Etheridge(OLB) step up. Having Stewart as a 5th year senior on the field behind the d line is a great contribution and should pay off well with the other young linebackers.

To be completely honest, Cornerback is where I’m the most fearful with our team. We are extremely thin at CB and with little to go off of, the spring game will be a big stage to see how the positions are covered. Expect redshirt sophomore Rodjay Burns, and redshirt sophomore P.J. Mbanasor to lead the depth chart for us in CB. As I said, this is a major area to keep eyes on Saturday.

Senior Dee Smith and sophomore C.J. Avery head up our safety positions. Smith had an excellent season last year, and an amazing bowl game. We have recruited well for the safety position so it is a possibility to see Blue, Character and Trenell Troutman. Marion Character was a huge ju-co pickup for us so I expect to see great things from him. When TreSean Smith returns from offseason knee surgery he could take the Starting spot from Avery as well, but time will tell.

As far as special teams go, we return all kickers from a good lineup last year. As far as returners, your guess is as good as mine. It is very likely to see multiple players plugged into returning positions so another thing to keep an eye on.

All in all the game Friday should be a great game, and a much-needed dose of football we all crave as Louisville fans. There are some positions that could come to light and make things much more clear after Friday. I hope to see all players play excellent and to see some youth step up.

As always #L1C4 and #gocards

Maxwell Bird

When the NCAA gives you lemons you turn them into some Red lemonade.



After a tumultuous season of ups and downs, a heartbreaking loss on Senior Day and missing the Tournament on selection Sunday Louisville basketball had hit its lowest point. Then something happened in that first game of the NIT.

Fans showed these players that their love for the Louisville program means more than an NCAA bid. They showed that the passion for Louisville basketball extends well beyond wins and losses. Somewhere in the second half of that first NIT game, the current team got that message and responded.

Over the past week, the players were reminded that sometimes it’s not about wins or losses but how you play the game. And somewhere in all of this, the players started to have fun again. They’re enjoying playing the game that they love with their teammates.

When you’ve hit rock bottom there’s only one way to go. And the Louisville Basketball program has shown the college basketball world that we aren’t going away. The NCAA gave us lemons and we packed the Yum Center with thousands of screaming fans for the NIT. Our team has turned them lemons into a big old glass of Red lemonade and are a few games from winning the whole damn thing.

There is still meat on the bone and the Cardinals will face a Mississippi State team that is drinking some of their own lemonade. They took out the top seed Baylor on Sunday and will come into the Yum Center riding a lot of momentum.

The Cardinals are outscoring teams by 12 points and allowing just 40.2 percent shooting at home this season. Mississippi State is being outscored by nearly six points and scoring under 70 points on the road this season. They are a very efficient offensive team but if the Cardinals play defense like they have been it will be another great evening for the home team.

We have a chance at a redo. It’s going to be the last time we see all of this current team together playing on the Yum Center court. Hopefully, this final farewell will have a better ending. One game away from NYC.

#WinTheWholeDamnThing

official Stats and UofL Gameday Breakdown:

Go Cards!

Louisville National Signing Day Party 2018 “Speed City”



It was a great evening out at the 2018 Signing Day Party. There was a pretty good crowd of die-hard football fans as Coach Petrino and his Coaching staff introduced and talked about some of the newest Cardinals. I have really enjoyed these events over the years. You get a chance to see the personality of the Coaching staff and get an in-depth look at the new players.

Coach Petrino opened the show talking about his commitment to the University and to the city of Louisville. He emphasized how much that this program means to him. And I think this 2018 Recruiting Class is an example of that. Coach Petrino and his staff logged thousands of hours and thousands of miles to lock down what might be the best recruiting class in program history.

This Louisville Class didn’t get much love in the final team rankings finishing #28 in ESPN, #30 in Rivals, #29 in 247Sports and #29 in Scout. But adding 10 Four Star athletes will not go unnoticed. This class has a lot of versatility and speed. They will be able to move a lot of these guys around to find out how to best utilize their abilities. If you are a wrestling fan then you’ve heard of Suplex City tonight Coach Petrino dubbed this bunch Speed City. There are six guys in this group that run the 100 meters in under 10.8 seconds.

Here’s what ESPN says about this group:

I really like this recruiting class. Two of the most important things in College Football are Size and Speed. This class has both. There is a lot for the Coaching staff to work with here and I can’t wait to see some of how they do that during the Spring Workouts. Congrats to Coach Petrino and his staff for reaping some of the reward for their work. They did real good here…

Here is some Video from the Signing Day Party

-Coach Petrino Intro

-Coach Petrino talks about Hassan Hall, and Yasir Abdullah at Signing Day Party 2018. #SpeedCity

-Coach Kolby Smith talks about Javian Hawkins & Marcus Rikey at 2018 Signing Day Party

-Coach Lorenzo Ward talks Telly Plummer, Trenell Troutman, & Boosie Whitlow at 2018 Signing Day Party

-Coach Klenakis talks about Rodjay Burns at 2018 Signing Day Party

-Coach Summers talks about Adonis Boone & Dejmi Dummervil-Jean at 2018 Signing Day Party

-New DC Brian VanGorder talks Thurman Geathers, & Allen Love at 2018 Signing Day Party

-Coach Nick Petrino talks Jordan Travis & Tyler Harrell at 2018 Signing Day Party

-New Coach Grady Brown talks PJ Mbanasor & Marlon Character Jr. at 2018 Signing Day Party

-Coach Ryan Beard talks Robert Hicks & Quen Head at 2018 Signing Day Party

-Coach Galloway talks Jatavious Harris & Chatarius Atwell Jr at 2018 Signing Day Party

-Coach Brian VanGorder talks Chandler Jones & Jared Goldwire at 2018 Signing Day Party

-Coach L.D. Scott talks Jarrett Jackson & Mike Boykin at 2018 Signing Day Party

Things change quick in College Sports



From a Touchdown squirrel to the NCAA bubble
It’s crazy how a few weeks can change everything in college sports. Back in early September things couldn’t have felt more promising for Louisville Basketball fans. The way too early NCAA polls were starting to circulate, and the Cardinals were one of the favorites to win an NCAA Title.

The program so hot that Coach Pitino would be the guest picker for the College Gameday event before the Clemson game. That jersey was way too little but hey we didn’t care. Rick was the man and had us sitting pretty again. Not only did he appear to have the current team poised for the success he had some very promising recruits signed. I couldn’t wait for the College Basketball season to begin.

The basketball buzz remained in the air especially after the Football team had just had another loss to Clemson. That was a bummer but it didn’t really faze the fanbase that much. There was a great feeling still in the air. The NCAA decision loomed but we had put all of the Stripper talk behind us. There was a lot of positive momentum back in the program.

I remember the weekend of the Kent State football game. Things were so good on Louisville social media that everyone was talking about a squirrel that had just run the field looking like it had scored a touchdown. Touchdown squirrel was trending in Louisville. That was on September 23rd.

A few days later it started to circulate that the squirrel had probably died from the trauma of his big moment. Then on September 29th just six days after a cute little squirrel had been the talk of the town reports surfaced that the Louisville Basketball program and its Hall of Fame coach had been named in an FBI probe of College Hoops. Only the University of Louisville could go from cute little squirrel to FBI probe in just six days. It was stunning.

Forget a black cat running across your path. If a squirrel crosses your path be ready for the bad luck to follow. Since that damn squirrel, it has been one thing after the next for the athletic program. Pitino fired, Jurich fired Jurich’s son fired, and now the BOT is in shambles.

Things couldn’t have gone any worse for the basketball program. Hype gone, Coaching staff gutted, prize recruits gone, but wait a minute. This team is showing some moxie, we are in 2nd place in the ACC… Could it be? Nope! Has a squirrel run across your path lately? The bottom appears to be dropping out again. NCAA decision could be days away “who knows”, BOT drama at a new level of yuck, and the Basketball program is the newly appointed Bubble Team.

Oh, what did I do as a Louisville Basketball fan to deserve all of this? And now I get to spend the next three weeks in college basketball limbo. Live cut-ins with Joe Lunardi during our games breaking down our bid chances, being team one or two in those blind resume segments and being the butt of whatever clever NIT joke our rivals come up with. Why oh why?

Touchdown Squirrel to the College Basketball Bubble. Things can change quickly in college sports so I’m going to try and stay positive. Who knows… Maybe the basketball gods will finally stop kicking us in the nuts.

Stay away from squirrels.

New Years resolution… Fan Up


Chances are that if you are a sports fan then there are moments in your life where sports have transcended the competition on the field of play and provided defining moments in your life. Sports have healed relationships, created long lasting bonds, brought nations together, brought communities together, and sports have inspired people for generations. In some way or other sports will impact a person in some way in their life’s journey.


With all the positive moments that sports brings to our lives there are times that they bring a dose of reality. Yes, sometimes sports serve as a sobering reminder that we are only human, and humans can do horrible things. Sports have reminded Cardinal fans just how much it can relate to real life. And while it’s happened before I’ll never get used to watching human failure.


The Louisville Basketball Program is facing the consequences of human failure. The actions of a few threatens to put a damper on things for a while. Most of us were confident that we’d get a mulligan this season with the current team having so much talent, but expectations have been lowered after back to back losses to Purdue and Seton Hall and now blowout loss to UK.

Maybe we underestimated the toll all of this would have on the current group. 
Regardless we need to get behind this program and team more than we ever have. It’s time to Fan-Up. It’s easy to go to games, cheer and be loyal when things are going well but a true fan is the guy or gal that is sitting thru those tough times with the same passion. I learned a lesson in life back in 1988.


I was a zit faced teen living in rural America. My hometown had maybe two or three families that were UofL fans. One happened to be the owner of our local drug store. They made it a point to sell Louisville gear in their store. I had become a sports fan during my 6th grade year when Louisville won the Title during the 85-86 season. I watched them win it on an old Zenith console TV that was bigger than some cars nowadays.


My mom took me to Morgan & Thomas and got me geared up. My Cardinals were the National Champions and I was going to let my fandom be known to the world. I had a hat that was a big Cardinal Beak. It was hideous. I wore that damn thing to school every day. I was the only Louisville fan in the middle school that year.


The first day of my 7th grade year I was even more geared up. My mom did most of my school shopping at Morgan & Thomas. I couldn’t wait for basketball season to watch my Cardinals. The Cardinals would go 18-14 and not even make the tournament that season. 
During my middle school days, the Cardinals didn’t have much success over the Blue either. I was tormented by my friends every season when they lost that game. During 7th grade Rex Chapman scores 26 points in a complete ass whipping. Several of my friends wore that 34-point victory on their T-shirts that year. Yes, they were even making T-shirts back then.


My 8th grade year was a heartbreaking 1-point loss at Rupp… My friends were just as brutal and trust me they made it hard to be a Cardinal fan. Peer pressure is brutal at that age. But I stood strong and 30 years ago tonight on December 31st of 1988 on New Year’s Eve during my freshman year of high school “Never Nervous” scored 20 and my Cardinals finally beat the Cayuts by 22 points 97-75…

It was tough sitting thru those losses but man it made it that much sweeter when they finally won. I couldn’t wait to get back to school after holiday break and mock my friends. It was my turn and it felt good. Even better since I had stuck by them. 
It feels good to be on top all the time, but you’ll never forget that moment of success when things hadn’t been that great. I learned in middle school that loyalty to my favorite sports team felt good and I’ve never wavered since.


I’m 45 years old now and my Cardinals are struggling, and I got a lot of text from some of those same middle school friends Friday afternoon after the game. But unlike that silly 8th grade boy I know now that this stuff isn’t the end of the world. I have developed a lot of empathy towards others. I understand the human element involved. Those are young men who have been thru hell. They had their world turned upside down. They had people they trusted let them down. They didn’t ask for any of it and none of them were involved.


When rival crowds are screaming Hookers, FBI, and Cheaters to these guys during warm-ups… these guys are taking all the heat for something none of them had any part of. They are carrying that burden. As fans do we really want them to carry our burdens? As fans do we want to be just more folks who let them down?


I hope they roll thru conference play and make a title run in March. Not so I can gloat to my buddies but because I’d love to see this team succeed. They deserve some good. But if they don’t win another game I’ll be geared up, I’m going to go to games, and I’m going to cheer for the Cardinals like I have for over 30 years. And when our program finally does turn it around I can only imagine how good it will feel.


The Louisville Basketball Program needs you now. It’s time to Fan-Up. I wish you many blessings in 2018. Happy New Year and Go Cards!


A Player that comes out of Nwora



It is the eve of one of the best rivalries in college sports… If you grew up in the state of Kentucky, then you chose your side very early in your life. I was singing the Louisville fight song to my son on the night he was born. And at age 6 he already loves his Cardinals. I picked a side 30 years ago and have never regretted my decision. I love my Cardinals and I love this rivalry. Rivalries are what define sports and every competition needs a great one. We have one of the best and it deserves the credit.

This is one of those games that you could analyze to death and a player comes out of nowhere and scores 20 points to turn things upside down. I just hope that player is a Louisville Cardinal this year. You keep hearing a lot about Ray Spalding and Ryan McMahon being guys that could have a big impact in this game. Ray will have to play an important role and I think Ryan will hit some big shots.

The guy not getting much attention this week is Jordan Nwora. He is only averaging 5.5 points a game so far, this season but I do think he could be the guy that comes out of nowhere. Nwora looked great in the season opener hitting 3 Big 3-point shots in that one. I can see him have that kind of game tomorrow. He has the size and the athleticism to give the UK defense trouble on the wings.

We are one of the few teams in the nation that can match their size all over the court. According to Ken Pomeroy’s advanced analytics Louisville is ranked 7th in average height and UK is ranked 4th. In effective height the Cardinals are ranked 13th while the Cayuts are ranked 23rd.

Anytime the Cardinals get a win in Rupp Arena they win the rebound battle and hit their free-throws. This Louisville team has struggled at times on the boards. They can’t afford to do that tomorrow. This is one of the best free-throw shooting teams we’ve had.

This will be one of the biggest tests of the year for both teams. Each must play to their strengths and attack the others weakness, but as I mentioned above with the player always coming out of nowhere there will be a scenario play out that nobody expected. These rivalry games are packed with emotion and that along with the home crowd will also factor in. I’m looking forward to a great game and an opportunity to knock off this Kentucky group. Should be another great one in the series…

Go Cards!

Official Louisville Game Notes

Not a Dominant win, but a Dominant performance against Grand Canyon

I didn’t get the dominant win that I wanted today but enjoyed a dominant performance by Ray Spalding. He put up one of the most impressive stat lines of the season today with 21 points, 16 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 blocked shots and 3 steals. When Ray Spalding plays at this level this team can beat anyone in the country. Give me double-double Ray and I really like our chances Friday.

I would have liked to see a more complete game today but overall really can’t complain. This team had their world turned upside down to start this season. They have now won 6 straight and only dropped 2 games during this non-conference stretch. These kids seem focused. There was a local reporter trying to bait a few of the players today in the locker room. He asked them about Quade Green’s comment about beating Louisville for Christmas. None of our guys took the bait and each was very businesslike in their response.

This team has a lot of positive momentum and if they can keep improving they will be very good. Happy Holidays folks!

Go Cards!

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