Analysts like ESPN's Lee Corso and Todd McShay, who say a one-loss team from one of the so-called power conferences like the SEC or Big XII would be more deserving than an unbeaten Louisville to play in the BCS national championship game. Corso and McShay say the Cards schedule is inferior, and that the Big East is un-worthy.
That's pretty much the standard line from these so-called experts.
Normally, when a team dispatches one of the most explosive teams in the country and snaps their 14 game winning streak they're the toast of the town. But not when you play in the Big East. Big East members don't get the benefit of the doubt from many quarters. Instead, Louisville had to answer questions about their defense for allowing one of the nation's top offenses to score 34 points (Yet the so-called experts didn't say a word about Michigan allowing 3-7 Ball State to put up 26 points on the road against the Wolverines over the weekend).
That's just the way it is for the Big East right now. They're always fighting the establishment – the privileged few who set up the current BCS system, but now want to rail against it when an "outsider" appears on track to crash the big party.
"I was a little bit surprised by that," Petrino admitted Monday. "It's something you can't worry about and you don't know what kind of agenda's those people have or what votes they're trying to influence."
"We feel we went out on the field and played great football. We've got four games left and we can't think about anything more than the Rutgers game. Our players hear and listen and it certainly motivates them. We probably should pay (Lee) Corso to keep talking about us."
While Petrino says the naysayers are a motivating factor for his team, junior quarterback Brian Brohm said he and his teammates can't worry about all the talk and negative press. Not with a chance to play for the BCS title on the line every week from this point going forward.
"I don't think we need any extra motivation (because) the opportunity ahead of us to go undefeated provides plenty of motivation to our team," Brohm said. "There is still a lot of football to be played and we need to go play it."
focused on the task at hand.
That means Brohm and the Cardinals won't be looking past No. 13 Rutgers Thursday night on the road even though they beat the Scarlet Knight's 56-5 last season.
"We know we have a lot to play for and that provides us motivation to go out and practice hard," said Brohm. "We'll definitely be ready for this game and know that last year's game really doesn't matter. I think everybody came back for yesterday's practice focused. It was a hard and tough practice and everyone seemed focused and ready to play. We're focused on Rutgers and trying to have two good practices before we go play them."
Petrino understands the college football world's "traditional" mind set. After all, he coached in the SEC at Auburn before coming to Louisville. Since coming to Louisville in 2003, Petrino has been trying to prove to critics that he's building a program that should be taken seriously at the national level.
"We're a new player," Petrino said. "There's a lot of tradition at other schools and in other conferences and we have to prove ourselves. That's what we've been trying to do for the last four years since we've been here. We do have to go through all of this and understand why people say those things."
Brohm thinks a win this week against Rutgers on the road would go a long way toward legitimizing Louisville in the minds of its many critics around the country.
"I think there's always something to prove," Brohm said. "We've got a couple big wins this season and this would be another one to get a huge road win at Rutgers. I think beating another undefeated team would prove a lot to a lot of people."
"There's no doubt we can compete," Petrino said. "When you look at the schedules and the different teams, again it comes down to the tradition. We have to earn our stripes, I guess you'd say."