What could have been: Cards vs. Aggies

It is no secret the 2013 Louisville schedule is softer than cotton candy.

It also is no secret Louisville worked extremely hard to try to upgrade its schedule, to come away rebuffed.

What were some of the options? Too good to be true, really.

Brett McMurphy of ESPN reports that Louisville had discussions with Texas A&M to open the season at Reliant Stadium in Houston, a contest that would have featured reigning Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel and 2013 Heisman hopeful Teddy Bridgewater.

Louisville coach Charlie Strong wanted to play the game. So did Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin. Ultimately, the game could not be worked out.

"It would have been a great experience to play against last year's Heisman Trophy winner and arguably the best player in college football," Bridgewater told McMurphy. "He lays it on the line like I do. It would have been a great matchup."

Another option would have had the Cardinals replacing Virginia Tech in the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Game from Atlanta. The opponent? Defending national champion Alabama.

McMurphy reports that Virginia Tech considered pulling out of the game if quarterback Logan Thomas left early for the NFL draft. Thomas decided to stay for his senior season and the game between the Tide and Hokies will go on as scheduled.

Louisville also tried to work out a home-and-home deal with Wisconsin, to no avail.

What could have been, right?

Instead of a blockbuster top-10 matchup against either Texas A&M or Wisconsin, Louisville is stuck opening the season against ... wait for it ... Ohio. While the Bobcats have been one of the better teams in the MAC of late, they do nothing for the Cardinals' strength of schedule. Nobody on the nonconference slate does, for that matter. The other two FBS teams Louisville is set to play nonconference -- FIU and Kentucky -- combined to win five games last year.

As it stands, Louisville has zero teams on the schedule projected to be ranked in the Top 25 when the season opens. For that reason, a potential undefeated run puts the Cardinals at a disadvantage against other undefeated teams, and potentially one-loss teams from tougher conferences.

Bottom line: The Cardinals are stuck playing one of the weakest schedules in the country. But you can't say they didn't try to make it a whole lot better.