Billy Reed: City school did well to pluck country boy Satterfield

Billy Reed: City school did well to pluck country boy Satterfield
Billy Reed (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE (WAVE) – Well, lookee here, Mama. Doggone if the University of Louisville, big inner-city school, has done gone and hired itself a good ol' boy as its football coach.

You don’t have to listen to Scott Satterfield long to realize he is no stranger to grits and country ham. He probably still watches reruns of Mayberry, R.F.D., when he gets a break. Like a lot of boys from North Carolina, he’s probably heard an ancient uncle talk about moonshine and the legend of Thunder Road.

He’s as southern as black-eyed peas and cornbread, and Johnny Cash, and Sunday go-to-meeting clothes. It is safe to assume he won’t do much recruiting above the Mason-Dixon line.

So, dadgum it, what in the name of Floyd the Barber was this coach from Appalachian State – a name that evokes images of the mountains and hollers and all things country – doing up there on the podium Tuesday talking about how Louisville was the place he wanted to be?

I mean, Appalachian State is where he became a folk hero, first as a walk-on quarterback who became a star, then as the coach whose teams were good enough to push to the limits of some of the marquee programs brave enough to play them.

Well, he’s a proven winner. He plays an upbeat, balanced offense that puts points on the board, and a defense that ranks high in the national standings. He’s a disciplinarian who also will “love on” his players, as he put it Tuesday. He’s unpretentious and down-home, just like ol' Dabo Swinney and some of those other fellas around the South who aren’t prissy, like some of those coaches up north and out west.

For Satterfield, it was about fulfilling his dreams. Having done about everything he could, he wanted to go someplace where he had a legitimate chance to win a national championship. For all its positives, Applachian State did not have the means and resources to give him that opportunity. But as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, one of college football’s Power Five leagues, UofL has proven it can reach the cusp of the sport’s pinnacle.

At some point during his conversations with UofL athletics director Vince Tyra, Satterfield must have asked the question that so far has gone publicly unanswered: “What happened to cause Bobby Petrino’s program fall so far, so fast?” Last year’s team was the worst in UofL’s modern history, and it came only a season and three games after the Cards had the Heisman Trophy winner in the wondrous Lamar Jackson and a legitimate shot to make the College Football Playoff.

And, of course, the follow-up question would have been, “Did anything happen under Petrino that might cause problems with the NCAA or law-enforcement?” Whatever Tyra’s answers, they obviously were satisfactory to Satterfield. Most UofL fans will be content to let it go at that.

The first ways to judge the good ol' boy will be (a) who joins his staff, (b) which players stay and which leave, and (c) whether he has the charisma to pick up some decent recruits to beef up a class that now includes only nine warm bodies.

Personally, it would be just fine with me if he picks some assistants who’d rather go to the Cracker Barrel than Jack Fry’s, who haven’t forgotten that Southern Comfort is a pretty good whisky, and who revere Dale Earnhardt more than Bill Shoemaker.

Shoot, Mama, I like the way this new fella talks. I think he’ll do just fine here, because what is it they always say about Louisville? Something like, “It’s just a big 'ol overgrown country town.” I guess we’ll just see about that.

Billy Reed is a longtime sportswriter who contributes regular columns to WAVE3.com.

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