Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino has had a pretty incredible week.
But his athletic director, Tom Jurich, has him one-upped. Jurich has had a pretty incredible year.
How about this for a series of events that began in August:
The football team posted the best start in school history at 9-0, en route to a share of the Big East title and a huge BCS win over then-No. 3 Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
Louisville accepted an invitation to join the ACC, a program-saving opportunity many thought had passed when the Big 12 passed the Cardinals over for West Virginia.
Coach Charlie Strong spurned a lucrative offer to coach Tennessee and signed a long-term extension to stay with the Cardinals, making him one of the highest paid coaches in the nation at $3.7 million per year.
Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is among the early preseason candidates for the Heisman Trophy, while the football team is expected to be ranked in the preseason top 10.
Jurich is one of five finalists for athletic director of the year.
The men's basketball team won a third national title; the women's basketball team is playing for its own national title tonight.
Other programs have been successful, too: The women's volleyball team finished its season ranked No. 17; field hockey was ranked No. 25; and men’s soccer finished ninth. The men’s (11th) and women’s (22nd) swimming and diving teams both finished among the nation’s top 25 in the NCAA championships. And the softball (11) and baseball (10) teams are currently ranked as well.
For those wondering, Louisville is the first university to ever win a BCS bowl game and place both its men’s and women’s basketball teams in the NCAA Final Four in the same season. Louisville also is just the third school to win the men's hoops title and a BCS bowl game in the same school year (Florida 2006-07, Kansas 2007-08). So, yes, I would say this season qualifies as the best one in school history, and Jurich should be the no-brainer choice to win the AD award.
Because, quite frankly, he has resurrected a program that was in dire straights when he arrived. Today, Louisville is the toast of the entire athletic collegiate world. None of this is by accident, nor is it some lucky fluke. Jurich has positioned his department as one of the best in all of the nation with his visionary thinking, terrific leadership and willingness to pay top dollar for his coaches.
Given what we have seen in this athletic season alone, Louisville has sent a clear message to its future conference rivals.