Big East Media Day Notebook (cont.)
The Bulls have 17 starters returning, including All-America defensive end George Selvie and versatile quarterback Matt Grothe. Leavitt isn't pointing to any one game on the schedule, but the Bulls could make another national statement against Kansas on Sept. 12 in Tampa. Leavitt and Kansas coach Mark Mangino were assistant coaches under former Kansas State coach Bill Snyder and remain good friends.
"I have great respect for Mark," Leavitt said. "You'll never hear either one of us saying something bad about the other. Last year they asked Mark, 'Should you guys be [ranked] above South Florida?' He goes, 'Don't even get into that with me. I know Jim too well."
Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich told the university's board of trustees last month that the Cardinals "are in a rebuilding process" and said he just wants to "get through" the next two years.
The Cardinals arrived at media day last year as a contender not only for the Big East title but also a national championship. Instead, Louisville finished 6-6 and 3-4 in the conference. Now with the departure of quarterback Brian Brohm, who passed for 10,775 yards in his career, Louisville is picked to finish seventh, ahead of only Syracuse.
On top of that, senior cornerback Rod Council was arrested for armed robbery and kicked off the team. Running back George Stripling was dismissed from the team for a violation of team rules. Running back Anthony Allen transferred. Junior receiver JaJuan Spillman was arrested for the second time in 10 months, and wide receiver Trent Guy was shot outside a nightclub in downtown Louisville.
"It's tough to see guys go and it's tough to see U of L get somewhat of a negative image in the media," said senior quarterback Hunter Cantwell, who will replace Brohm. "You do love the school and you love the city."
Second-year coach Steve Kragthorpe said the players who have departed under controversial circumstances essentially "dismissed themselves." But he said there must be improvement on and off the field.
"Anything that has happened is my fault," Kragthorpe said. "I accept full responsibility. We've got to get it fixed."
Mike Tranghese, heading into his final season as conference commissioner, said he never could have predicted the football success enjoyed by the conference 20 years ago or even five years ago when Miami, Virginia Tech and Boston College left for the Atlantic Coast Conference. "I think we've proven ourselves," Tranghese said. ... Pittsburgh, picked third in the preseason poll, is expecting even bigger things from running back LeSean McCoy, who set a Big East freshman record with 1,328 rushing yards last season. "He left a lot of long runs on the field last year," Wannstedt said. "He can be better. He can do a better job reading defenses and making cuts." McCoy sees brighter days ahead for Pitt. "I want to get back to the old tradition of Pitt football," he said. ... Connecticut quarterback Tyler Lorenzen is heading into his senior season with an entirely different perspective. Lorenzen, a transfer from Palomar Community College in San Marcos, Calif., stepped in last season and started all 13 games while completing 57 percent of his passes. "This feels great," Lorenzen said. "A little bit of gray matter is good thing. I understand the offense and I have a great relationship with my teammates. It's so much different. Last year at this time I had no idea if I was going to be a starter or not."
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