But come on, Tim Sullivan, stop drooling and rein yourself in.
It’s only the first game of the season.
Believe me, I get it! Our two major college sports programs are huge here in Louisville. The city’s collective heartbeat slowed for a week in March leading up to the Kentucky-Louisville game in the Final Four. It was great sports theater, and it was thrilling.
And, to a lesser extent, the city stops and pays attention to the annual Cards-Cats football game. It’s exciting competition. The Courier-Journal knows that and feeds into the local emotion.
So perhaps this is not the time to get all Ebenezer Scrooge about it. But first and foremost, a newspaper’s job is to cover the news, to inform – as professionally and dispassionately as possible.
Yet, here’s the new sports columnist, Tim Sullivan, saying – on the banner, front page, above-the-fold lead article Monday morning – “If Charlie Strong’s Cardinals are any better than they played Sunday, they are a match for any team on their schedule and maybe most of those that operate outside of Tuscaloosa, Ala.”
The italics are mine, to express the foolishness of the statement. One game into the season, Sullivan declares that Louisville could be the second-best team in the country, Alabama excepted.
The Cards and Teddy Bridgewater looked great. But how much of that great was because of the team they were playing?
The Cats looked poor, as expected, and lost, as expected.
So give Louisville credit for winning the highly hyped Governor’s Cup for the second year in a row. Give them credit for, at least for this week, validating their national ranking (which, by the way, was 25 – still 23 teams between Louisville and Alabama). And indicate they could be a force in the Big East – and maybe, maybe, earn a coveted BCS win.
Perhaps it’s Sullivan, the newcomer, trying to fit in by doing some bandwagon-jumping. It’s the like the new kid in the schoolyard who talks big in the hopes everyone will notice him and like him.
But sophisticated big city media don’t act that way. They report the facts, give the appropriate props in a column or two in the sports section, and wait for the season to play itself out. It just struck me as small market yahooism. It makes us look a little silly.
I remember how equally excited everyone was with the 2007 Louisville team, a pre-season Top Ten national ranking that scored 131 points in its first two games before tumbling to Kentucky, then to Syracuse, and finishing 6-6.
So Tim Sullivan may appear naïve by the end of the season. Or maybe I will.
The place for all that is talk radio, or your favorite bar, or the office water cooler, or on Facebook or in emails.
It’s not on the front page of a metropolitan newspaper that has claimed over the years to be one of the best in the country.