As expected, Louisville's search to replace Bobby Petrino appears destined to be short and narrowly focused.
Tulsa's Steve Kragthorpe is the choice, according to a source close to the negotiations. Pending a formal agreement and finalized details, he will be named this week.
Officials at both schools declined comment, but Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich is expected to fly to Tulsa Tuesday to meet with Kragthorpe. Jurich spent part of Monday afternoon meeting with the Louisville team and told the players they should expect to have a new coach quickly.
A prompt hire appeared likely, as the
Louisville Athletic Association board of directors' personnel
committee scheduled a meeting for 4 p.m. ET Tuesday in case Jurich
reached an agreement with a candidate. Any new hire must be
approved by the committee.
"I want consistency and stability, and I want somebody who has
an incredible amount of integrity," Jurich told The Associated Press. "That would
probably be my top priority. ... I want somebody who wants to be
That will be important in Louisville's efforts to keep two star juniors, quarterback Brian Brohm and running back Michael Bush, for one more year. Both are weighing decisions on whether to enter the NFL draft, and in Bush's case, it may already be too late.
Bush is expected to announce he will
enter the NFL draft at an 11:30 a.m. ET press conference. Bush, who broke his right leg against Kentucky in September, had the option of entering the draft or taking a medical redshirt from the NCAA. He ran for an NCAA-leading 23 touchdowns as a junior in
Brohm will meet with the new coaching hire
before deciding whether to return for his senior season or enter
the draft. Brohm, who threw for 311 yards in Louisville's win over
Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl, has been projected as a first-round
pick by some draft experts.
Another factor in the timing is recruiting. The Cardinals are expecting to have a large number of recruits on campus this weekend to attend the Louisville-Providence basketball game on Saturday, and they'd obviously like to have Kragthorpe signed, sealed and delivered in time to meet the recruits.
According to the New Jersey Herald News, Louisville lost a top recruit after Petrino stepped down. Heralded high school quarterback Matt Simms, the son of former Giants quarterback Phil and brother of current Buccaneers quarterback Chris, has withdrawn his oral commitment to Louisville just hours after Petrino officially left the school for the NFL.
"I'm not going to Louisville," Simms told the newspaper. "As far as my recruiting goes, I'm pretty much back to square one"
Simms pledged to join Petrino at Louisville in August, but athletes are not bound to schools or to their scholarship until they sign a letter of intent in their respective sport. The signing period for football begins on Feb. 6.
Defensive backs coach/recruiting coordinator Joe Whitt told AP he's
received numerous phone calls from recruits' parents concerned
about the coaching change.
"I told them just to hold tight and see what's going on," Whitt said.
Jurich also met Monday morning with Bobby Petrino's brother, Paul, the Cardinals' offensive coordinator. Paul Petrino is not believed to be a candidate for the job, if only because of his family ties to the guy who just walked out with nine years left on a contract he signed in August.
It's believed Louisville also had some initial interest in UCLA's Karl Dorrell, but Kragthorpe is clearly the candidate of choice.
Jurich and Kragthorpe have roots at Northern Arizona together. Jurich was the athletic director there in the late 1980s and early '90s, and Kragthorpe was NAU's quarterbacks coach from 1990-94.
Like Petrino, Kragthorpe has a track record as a strong quarterbacks coach and offensive tactician. He came to Tulsa after two years as the quarterbacks coach of the Buffalo Bills, and his Golden Hurricane teams have been prolific offensively.
Tulsa had lost 21 of its last 22 games when Kragthorpe took over in 2003 and has gone 29-22 since.
Pat Forde is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at ESPN4D@aol.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.