Charlie Strong introduced his staff, talked down the hype, talked up some of his players and had plenty of laughs during a 30-minute speech in front of more than 1,400 fans at the kickoff luncheon on Thursday at the downtown Marriott.
But the message he kept repeating time and again during the speech was the same – “We can’t get complacent. The coaches can’t and the players can’t.”
The kickoff was the official start of the season, which begins on Sept. 2 with a home-game against Kentucky. The Cardinals are favored to win the Big East Conference and Strong said, “You can just feel the hype.”
”But champions never quit,” Strong said. “We have a lot of work to do and we’re going to do it. We’re not going to get complacent.”
Strong continues to down play the amount of hype surrounding his program heading into the season. The Cardinals won five of their final six Big East games last season and earned a bid into the Belk Bowl.
“There’s a lot of hype out there, but we haven’t been a consistent program,” Strong said. “This is our 94th season of football at the University of Louisville. That’s 94 seasons. We’ve only won seven championships. Yes, seven.”
Here are a few other nuggets from the event:
*Athletic director Tom Jurich started it off with a nice chat, noting the school has won 50 Big East titles and has 40 runner-ups in seven years. Jurich then said, "We think on paper this will be the best year we've ever had in U of L sports.”
*Strong says with the hint this team will be good the "Marriott stepped up the meal" for the kickoff luncheon. They served steak.
*Strong goes through the list of players expected to start or contribute. He updated the fans on Corvin Lamb, who he said has been hampered by a wrist injury, and Roy Philon, who is just back from a back injury.
*Senior wide receiver Scott Radcliff is still wearing a knee brace from injury last week but has practiced two days in a row.
Strong gave the team Thursday off. The Cardinals will have a double-session of practices on Friday before a scrimmage on the final day of fall camp – Saturday.