Kragthorpe disappointed but won't quit

Steve Kragthorpe said at his season-ending press conference Friday that he's disappointed with the current state of the Louisville football program but that he isn't about to quit on the Cardinals.

Less than 24 hours after Louisville's season ended on a down note at Rutgers, Kragthorpe re-affirmed his intention to coach the Cardinals next season despite significant fan criticism.

"I'm disappointed with the progress we've made the past two seasons," Kragthorpe said. "I know our fans are disappointed. I know our administration is disappointed. I know our coaches and players are disappointed. But I'm going to be here to fix it. I want to be here and I'm not leaving. I'm not resigning because that's not who I am. I came here to do a job and the job is not finished. Until someone tells me not to come to work I'll be every day. I'm not a quitter. I'm a lot of things but I'm not a quitter. I'm going to continue to fight and battle to get this program back to where we all want it to be – going to a bowl game every year and competing for the Big East every year."

Given the pressure and criticism in recent weeks from fans, did Kragthorpe ever think about stepping down?

"No. Never," Kragthorpe said. "I never thought about it one time. I came here with the thought this would be my last job and I still hold that thought in my heart. At no point in time did quitting enter my mind."

"I think we're heading in the right direction," Kragthorpe said. "I think we're doing the things we need to do."

In the short term, Kragthorpe pointed to recruiting and continuing to develop the players already on the team, including emerging stars Victor Anderson and Doug Beaumont, to help get the program back on track. As for recruiting, Kragthorpe called on Louisville fans for help.

"From a recruiting standpoint – our fans can help us," Kragthorpe said. "Our fans on the message boards can be positive about where we're headed. I'm going to be here. That's not going to change this year. A lot of people read those message boards and I think our fans can help us in recruiting because we have great fans here. We've got fans that are passionate about football and want to see us do well."

What makes Kragthorpe so positive about the future of a program coming off a 5-7 season that ended with a 63-14 loss at Rutgers?

"I guess because I'm here every day," Kragthorpe said. "I'm around these coaches and players every day. I look at some of these players coming back that have 3 years, 2 years, one year left coming back. I'm encouraged with where we're at right now. I'm discouraged that we didn't get to a bowl game this season but I am encouraged that a lot of the players we have coming back really performed at a high level this year and I think we just need to continue to bolster our depth on both sides of the line of scrimmage."

Kragthorpe described himself as being frustrated with the current situation.

"I'm probably more frustrated than I am stressed out about the situation because I want to win every time I take the field," Kragthorpe said. "But really no more than ever."

"Obviously when you look at the final record of this football team you would not say we're going in the right direction," Kragthorpe said. "I know close doesn't count and the bottom line is wins and losses. But we were a couple plays away from beating Cincinnati and they're going to represent us in the Orange Bowl. I think we're close to competing for a championship at this place. We've just got to continue to develop the players we have. We played a lot of guys this year that had never played football this year."

Now Kragthorpe looks to recruiting and to his third season at UofL. In two seasons, Kragthorpe owns an 11-13 record.

"Like I said, ‘I'm in it for the long haul and I'm going to continue to fight," said Kragthorpe.

Kragthorpe said he's impatient - probably more so than fans - and wants to turn things around immediately.

"I want to get it done next year so my goal is to win the Big East championship next year," Kragthorpe said.

Kragthorpe's coaching staff underwent drastic change after his first season, replacing both coordinators. It's possible more changes could happen before next season.

"We'll continue to evaluate there," Kragthorpe said. "I think that's something we'll look at over the course of the next week. When we get back from (recruiting) we'll sit back and evaluate where we're at and make some decisions."

On the possibility of Ron English leaving for another job. "Ron has not interviewed for any positions and I don't know of any that he's going to interview for," said Kragthorpe. "He'll communicate with Tom (Jurich) on all that."

Asked about fans who have threatened not to renew season tickets next season, Kragthorpe had this to say: "Think of the players. Think about coming and supporting these players. I understand people don't like me right now. Don't take your hate for me out on the players. Support the players."

With three years left on his contract, Kragthorpe was asked if he and Jurich have had talks about a contract extension. "We haven't talked about (it) – I don't expect a contract extension," Kragthorpe said.

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