Jurich: "It's been a wonderful ride"

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The amazing run for the University of Louisville athletic department continued on Sunday evening at Hawkins Field. The Cardinals advanced into the College World Series with a 2-1 victory over Vanderbilt in the NCAA Baseball Tournament Super Regional. Cardinal Authority looks at the success.

On Sunday evening, University of Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich looked like just another fan in the stands at Hawkins Field.

With two outs in the ninth inning of the second game of the NCAA Super Regional, Jurich was seated five rows behind the Vanderbilt dugout. He was wearing a visor and looked mighty calm for the situation.

A few minutes later, U of L reliever Cody Ege struck out Vanderbilt's Mike Yastrzemski for the final out. Jurich pumped his fist, gave some high fives and headed to the field to celebrate as the Cardinals earned their second trip to the College World Series with a 2-1 victory over the Commodores.

"You never take anything for granted," Jurich said.

But with the success the U of L athletic department has had this season, no bookmaker in Vegas would have bet against the Cardinals in that situation.

Ege's final strike and the ensuing dog pile that occurred on the field didn't just signify a World Series bid. No, the trip to Omaha completed perhaps the greatest Grand Slam any college program has ever completed.

"It's the year of the Cardinal," designated hitter Jeff Gardner said.

With the latest accomplishment, Louisville's athletic department has now become the first school in NCAA history to reach a BCS Bowl game, play in a men's and women's basketball Final Four and the College World Series in the same year. The Cardinals beats Florida in the Sugar Bowl and also won the men's national title, while finishing as the runner-up in the women's event.

There was also a swimming national title (Joao De Lucca) a host of other Big East titles and NCAA appearances and the announcement that U of L would be headed to the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014.

"It's been some kind of year," reliever Nick Burdi said. "It's a Louisville domino affect. One program does is and then it's the next one up. It's just a trickle down affect. The football team started it, the basketball team did it and the women's basketball team did it. They flipped it to us and it was our turn."

And there was the architect – Jurich – flanked by his sons – Mark and Brian – in front of the U of L dugout after the victory smiling and receiving hugs.

"It's just incredible," Jurich said. "It's been a wonderful ride starting with that Rutgers football game, all the way through. This is a credit to all of our coaches, every single one of them, and all 750 student-athletes."

Jurich kept answering questions and giving out hugs with many of the players coming up and thanking the man in charge of the athletic department.

"I'm just happy for the city of Louisville," Jurich said. "It's a special time, and we're sure going to enjoy it."

The trip to the World Series is the second in school history and the second under coach Dan McDonnell, who took the Cardinals there in 2007 his first season.

"God is good," McDonnell said. "God is real good."

McDonnell went on to talk about the success at the university saying: "You become a product of your society and fortunately we've got a lot of success going on that campus. Credit to our kids for doing their part.

"It is a great university and a great sports city."

Also a successful one. But Jurich said he isn't finished because "we still can all get better, we're going to have to when we move into the ACC."

But for now, it's been one fun time to be a Cardinal.

"My goal when I took this job was to be a comprehensive athletic department," Jurich said. "I wanted to be strong in every sport and we strived for that.

"But this has certainly exceeded any of my expectations."

Cardinal Authority Top Stories