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Program in Meltdown: Louisville

Note: This is part one of a four part series. Part two (Syracuse) will run later today while parts three (Pitt) and four (Rutgers) will run tomorrow.

Wow, even I couldn't jokingly fathom something like this. I mean, I tried, but I was still somewhat confident that Kragthorpe would get things turned around.

I see now that was obviously a mistake.

Attendance B.K. (Before Kragthorpe)

In two years, Louisville football has been set back at least five years. Now, to be sure, it wasn't all Kragthorpe. The destruction that Bobby Petrino left in his wake is a big culprit. Down almost twenty scholarship players is not a good thing. But those 65 players that remained were and are still pretty damn talented (remember, they returned most of that Orange Bowl team). Kragthorpe has done nothing but squander that talent.

Even before Kragthorpe coached his first game at Louisville, the meltdown was being organized. Fans who had become accustomed to success under John L. Smith and Bobby Petrino were instantly skeptical of Kragthorpe. While hindsight might prove those doubters correct, Kragthorpe has compiled an impressive resume in three years at Tulsa. Even so, a foundation of hatred was already being constructed in the Queen City. It didn't take long to start adding levels to that foundation.

As we speak, Louisville fans are putting the finishing touches on the obituary of Steve Kragthorpe. Think that it's not that grim? All you have to do is read this and this -- that should tell you all you need to know. After the disastrous loss to Kentucky on Sunday, the question seems to have turned from if Steve Kragthorpe would be fired to when.

The consensus seems to be that Louisville AD Tom Jurich will give his hand-picked coach a third year to prove himself. Unfortunately, if you give a piece of shit (coach) an extra year to age, usually it just ends up smelling worse (just ask Syracuse). Unfortunately, Jurich's hand might be forced by an outstandingly awful year -- which, at this point, looks entirely possible. If Kragthorpe wins less than five games, it would take a miracle to keep him around. And even if he is fired, how much damage has he done?

Attendance A.K. (After Kragthorpe)

Unlike Pitt and Syracuse, Louisville isn't exactly the most nationally established of programs. Sure, it's had a good deal of success over the years, but this is still a program only four years removed from playing in Conference USA. It's becoming more of a household name, but it simply doesn't have the same appeal and allure as Pitt or Syracuse. Any progress made in the past decade by Smith and Petrino is being torched by Kragthorpe. Until he's fired -- and he will be fired -- it's tough to tell how much damage has been done. My guess is that recruiting will slip for at least another two years, regardless of who is the head coach. Basically losing two years of recruiting doesn't just set a program back two years -- it's more like five years. So, we can basically sit back, relax, and check in with the Cardinals in 2013.

Luckily for Louisville, no one will be at the games to witness how bad this team becomes.