SPOILER WARNING: What follows features extreme spoilers of the AMC TV show Breaking Bad. If you proceed any further you will be spoiled. You have been warned.
When Breaking Bad began, I was a skeptic. Bryan Cranston was best known to me as Hal, the bumbling father from Malcolm in the Middle. I scoffed at the notion that Frankie Muniz’s TV dad and star of the awful Disney TV movie Twas The Night could become any kind of villain. Let alone put on an acting master class. As the show’s popularity and acclaim began reaching critical mass, I continued to discount the show and filed it into the “I’ll get to it” column of my Netflix queue.
When this summer came around, it became clear that I had made a grave mistake in missing out on the show. For some odd reason, I truly believed that I would be able to survive missing out on the greatest television event since my mother and millions of other Americans learned who shot J.R. Ewing. (But did we really not see the mistress coming?) What ensued was a binge into all things Breaking Bad, and resulted in my catching up just as the final episodes hit air seven weeks ago.
Now as show creator and genius Vince Gilligan present the final piece to his beautiful ‘measure.’ I felt the show deserved a tribute. Seeing as how I’m no expert on Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, I figured I would channel one of my favorite sports writers and personal heroes Bill Simmons. By using quotes from one of the greatest shows of all time, we’ll take a look at the state of Louisville football. Where they have been, where they are going, and of course the inevitable schedule talk.
Walter: “Three entire bags of Funyuns?”
Jesse: “Funyuns are awesome.”
Jesse: “More for me.”
*Cue Schedule Talk*
Yes, the schedule has been soft, and yes it’s only getting worse. Like Jesse Pinkman’s meal of choice the schedule is technically “food”, it just isn’t very good for you. The Cardinals can’t blame Jesse/American Athletic Conference for bringing a schedule so soft that it has no real sustenance. The conference did all it could to rebuild after being decimated by a poison named ricin but also known as ‘TV Money’, but it can’t help how badly some of its members have played. The top half of the AAC is combined for an impressive 16-2 while the bottom half is an abysmal 2-13.
Like Walt’s early days slinging blue crystal, the AAC has seen some small victories, Rutgers and Central Florida have emerged as decent teams. With UCF facing its biggest test Saturday, as it hosts Southeastern Conference powerhouse South Carolina. Rutgers has already beaten an SEC foe in Arkansas, and has taken possible BCS buster Fresno State to overtime. However, the first year conference almost had its signature win with Connecticut nearly upsetting the highly ranked Michigan Wolverines. The Huskies win would have had a huge impact on not only Louisville’s strength of schedule but also possible national championship implications.
The Cardinals are currently in the doldrums of their schedule, with this a bye week followed by a trip to play Temple in an empty stadium next weekend. Charlie Strong and company won’t be anything more than an ESPN bottom line fixture until their Thursday night tilt with Rutgers on Oct 10. While they wait for that chance talking heads will continue to discount the Cards and teams will leap them in the polls (LSU already has.)
If UCF can upset South Carolina on Saturday, and the rest of the conference can spare itself from future embarrassment then Louisville might have something. With some help, these funyuns may be nutritious enough to give Louisville a shot at playing for a title in Pasadena.
Whenever Charlie Strong or Teddy Bridgewater has to hear the pundits bashing their schedule they should think of it this way:
Elliott Schwartz: “Charlie, I’m glad you brought that up. I have to believe that the investing public understands we’re talking about a person who was there early on, but who had virtually nothing to do with the creation of the company, and still less to do with growing it into what it is today.”
Elliot and Gretchen’s public stunt in last Sunday’s episode wasn’t unlike the hammering Louisville gets regularly on the four letter network. As Walter had much more to do with GrayMatter Technologies than his former colleagues are willing to admit, Louisville had less to do with their schedule than anyone is willing to admit.
It’s been hammered out extensively by local media figures (recently here from The Crunch Zone’s Chris Hatfield,) but Tom Jurich and his staff did everything they could to give Louisville a non-conference opponent to be proud of.
UofL must see the constant disrespect like Walt has, this team has a chance to build an incredible legacy. They could go down as one of the greatest Louisville teams ever, and no one can be allowed them to take that away from them. The Cardinals must enter every week with no mercy, leaving everything on the field.
When teams come to Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium there might as well be a sign that reads:
Walt: “Your best course would be to tread lightly”
Louisville’s rout of Florida International was incredible and nearly embarrassing at the same time. The complete dismantling of the Panthers is something that Strong must truly strive for every single game. The Cards were punishing on both sides of the ball. The defense was choking. The offense left few points on the field. Hey! Even the special teams got better!
In all seriousness, Louisville used the FIU game as it should have. It was an opportunity to better weaknesses the team has shown in its first games: the running game was established, the special teams improved, and Ted was Ted.
In regards to attendance the fans have this to say:
Walter: “I love you. Nothing about that has changed, and nothing ever will. So right now, what I need is for you to climb down out of my a–. Can you do that? Will you do that for me, honey? Will you please, just once, get off my a–. You know, I’d appreciate it. I really would.”
Three straight sell-outs against sub par opponents means it’s time to give the Cardinal faithful a little bit of respect. The atmosphere has been incredible for each opening kickoff, and it seems like fans are sauntering in from tailgates earlier this year. However, you can’t expect fans to stick around after the Cards pull out of reach. There even seemed to be a solid fan base in attendance at Commonwealth Stadium to watch the final September Governor’s Cup.
Strong and other members of the Louisville staff have criticized Louisville fans for their nasty habits. Rightfully so, but things appear to be changing and I fully expect the excitement to continue to rise if the Cardinals continue their undefeated season.
The stakes in the tailgate game have been raised this year as well. Big credit to the people who have organized some events over by Old Cardinal Stadium that rival the crazy parties at the Pinkman House. As we approach entrance into the ACC, tailgates needed to step up and they have so far. We may not be on par with the great SEC pre-game festivities, but we are making strides in the right direction.
As for student support, I’ll help soldier the blame for my compatriots. If you weren’t aware that unmistakable empty section shown on the FIU game belongs to the UofL students. As pointed out by Mike Rutherford of the Card Chronicle, Louisville has the smallest section in the AAC and will have the same in the ACC. But students not showing up aren’t doing us any favors. Sure noon games mean less time to “celebrate” Teddy Bridgewater’s greatness, but we have to do better…myself included.
All things considered, the fans have been excellent so far, and here’s hoping the weather for the rest of the season stays as strong as Wendy being interrogated by the DEA.
Now with its fans firmly in their seats, Louisville can focus on attracting others to the bandwagon, mainly the BCS rankings.
Mike: “Just because you shot Jesse James, don’t make you Jesse James.”
The media and computers continue to find reasons to doubt the Cardinals, and Charlie Strong are beginning to wish that last year’s victory over the Florida Gators counted for something this season. The latest BCS projections keep the Cardinals in the nine spot, and miles away from any national championship discussions. However, that hasn’t stopped some humans for finding Louisville to be one of the best teams in the country.
Enter Scott Wolf, the Los Angeles Daily News’ USC beat writer who has become the Cardinals most important fan. Wolf, a voter in the Associated Press poll who has ranked Louisville as the number two team in the country every week the season so far.
After reaching out Wolf regarding his ranking of the Cards he had this to say: “I think they have the best chance to go undefeated, and if they do win their games, deserve to go to the BCS title game, regardless of their conference. I don’t think it’s fair to only have a SEC, Big 12, Big 10, or Pac-12 team makes the title game if there is a deserving team from another conference.”
Charlie Strong and company need to start finding more Scott Wolfs out in the world. Without them, Louisville has zero chance at making the national championship game.
The fact of the matter is that the Cards hold their destiny in their hands. As long as they come every week and win, if they are snubbed from the title game by an undefeated Pac-12 or Big 10 team then there isn’t much they can do.
That drive to being undefeated begins and ends with Teddy Bridgewater.
Walt: “You clearly don’t know who you’re talking to, so let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, and you think that of me? No! I am the one who knocks!”
Teddy Bridgewater must become the one who knocks. He’s already the second choice in the latest Heisman odds at 11/2. However, critics like the “Heisman Pundit” still rank Bridgewater behind other candidates like Oregon’s Marcos Mariota, Clemson’s Tajh Boyd, and Alabama’s A.J. McCarron.
Just like how other cooks have tried muscling in on Walt’s turf, these alternatives have been labeled as better option. But the real customers, the NFL, know that Bridgewater’s the real big league star. Sports Illustrated placed the Louisville star at the top of their most recent NFL Mock Draft, cementing his spot above the struggling Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina. Multiple scouts from several NFL teams have visited PJCS just learn more about Bridgewater, but when it comes to college football’s biggest honor experts say Bridgewater should be shut out.
While his first games have been statistically strong, Bridgewater will have to keep his ridiculous pace through the conference schedule to gain serious consideration for the awards. He currently stands at 15 touchdowns in four games and will likely need around 50 to stand a good chance, but at the current pace will reach 45.
While the mountain he must climb seems steep, Bridgewater has yet to disappoint and has no intention of doing so anytime soon. His focus rivals the work ethic Walter puts in while he’s at work. To accomplish this goal Bridgewater must become….Heismanburg (its corny I know).
If worse comes to worse, and Louisville is snubbed out of the BCS championship by a one loss SEC team. If Teddy Bridgewater can’t muster up the stats to validate picking a player from a “bad conference.” Just set down your copy of Leaves of Grass and remember that Tom Jurich had a conversation nearly a year ago that went a little something like this..
Walter: “It’s over. We’re safe.”
Skyler: “What happened?”
Walter: “I won.”
See you in the ACC folks.