LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Millions of dollars changing hands in the UofL Foundation, a salacious sex scandal making national news for nearly two years, the removal of a national championship banner looming and the search for a permanent president in one of the school's most tumultuous periods – those are just a few things continuing to make headlines since the Cards played their last football game.
But when UofL hits the field this fall, Card Nation will get a much-needed escape, and a shot at redemption.
Football season has arrived, bringing with it the promise of its perennial pleasure, and the potential to prosper.
The Cardinals will seek redemption against some of the country's toughest competition, and will look to remain dominant against others. The 2016 season began with so much promise for a young Louisville team. A nationally televised beatdown of powerhouse and ACC rival Florida State set the stage for what would be a season full of hype. Lamar Jackson literally lept over the competition in September and October, and it seemed like the College Football Playoff Committee would have to include the Cards come New Years. But then came a trip to Death Valley.
When Clemson comes to town for Louisville's home opener on Sept. 16, it's a chance for major redemption after one of the biggest blockbuster games in the sport last season. Louisville's visit to Death Valley earned a 5.5 national television rating; nearly 10 million people watched the back-and-forth thriller. Louisville struck first, fell far behind, then staged an improbable second-half comeback in one of college football's most difficult environments. With eight minutes remaining and UofL clinging to an eight-point lead, a hallmark win for the program seemed all but in hand, but the Cards came up just two yards short.
A disappointing showing at Houston added negative momentum to a season that many believed to be deflated after the defeat at Clemson.
Louisville finished the season with every member of Card Nation's least favorite thing, a loss to the Kentucky Wildcats. A bowl loss to LSU may have hurt for less sentimental reasons, but the trend of the final weeks of the 2016 season was a stark contrast to the high hopes with which it began.
Redemption, the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil. While that definition may be literal, to many, that's what is on the line in 2017. Redemption for the sins of those still doubting a Heisman-winning quarterback's ability to lead a comeback season for his team. Redemption for the errors which led to an abysmal final stretch. Redemption for the plague of scandal, investigation and disappointment that hangs over Floyd Street like a black cloud you can't escape.
When Louisville takes the field on Saturday, the September sun will shine on a new season, perhaps one full of hope and promise, maybe even redemption. What happens to that black cloud is anybody's guess.
Annie Moore is a digital producer who also contributes occasional sports columns at WAVE3.com.