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Louisville’s blackout uniforms have good history

Photo credit: Louisville Athletics

Louisville will roll out an all-black uniform look for its first contest in the ACC in week one. The nationally televised ACC debut on Labor Day against the Miami Hurricanes will see Louisville wear the non-traditional uniform, complete with a previously leaked reflective-chrome helmet to match the color of the uniform itself. It is not personally to my liking and I think it makes Louisville look more like Cincinnati than anything else, but hey, this is Louisville’s party and I am not going to sit here and try to ruin it.

One of my personal uniform rules, which I really should put down in an “official” capacity, states that no team shall wear an alternate black uniform or helmet unless black is one of the official school colors. While it may seem strange seeing Louisville in anything but red or white, black is an official school color. We also see now a clear difference between the management of the program under Bobby Petrino and Charlie Strong, now at Texas. Strong was reluctant to use the alternate black uniforms, instead opting for the more traditional look (thumbs up). Petrino, on the other hand, was at the helm when the blackout uniforms were introduced and he will kickstart his second stint with the program by having the team suit up in this updated look. But is there something to this gimmick?

Mark is right. There is a good, although short, track record for the blackout football games at Louisville.

The first blackout game in school history was played on November 2, 2006 against No. 3 West Virginia. Louisville entered the game undefeated and ranked fifth in the country, making this early November Big East contest one of the biggest in the conference’s history. West Virginia looked like a team poised at making a run to the BCS Championship Game. A season after finishing in the top five, Rich Rodriguez had the Mountaineers off to a 7-0 record, obliterating every team standing in the way through the end of October. West Virginia had won each game by an average of 32.8 points per game, outscoring the opposition 286-89. That included a win in SEC territory, although against Mississippi State. The Mountaineers had not been challenged physically at any point until that night against Louisville. The Cardinals brought the pain, rattling running back Steve Slaton by forcing three fumbles, one of which was recovered by Louisville linebacker Malik Johnson and returned for a touchdown early in the third quarter to allow the home team expand on a narrow halftime lead. Just minutes later Louisville returned a punt for a touchdown and a 16-point lead. The two teams exchanged touchdowns the rest of the way. Every time West Virginia made a push, Louisville had an answer. Louisville won a wild one, 44-34, to take control of the Big East, but the Cardinals were upset the following Thursday night on the road against Rutgers, 28-25.

The following season, in 2007, Louisville designated their home game against Rutgers for the second blackout game. A season after being upset by the Scarlet Knights, Louisville had revenge on the mind at home. With the game being played once again on Thursday night before a national television audience on ESPN, Louisville encouraged all fans to wear black to the game.It was the final game of the season and this Louisville team had struggled all season long. A win over Rutgers was needed to become eligible for postseason play at a record of 6-6. Rutgers was also not quite up to clearing the bar set the previous season, entering the game with a record of 7-4. Whatever the case, the blackout was another success on the field. Down 38-24 early in the fourth quarter, the Cardinals put together a 17-0 run to close out the game with a Bilal Powell touchdown run, a short touchdown run by Brock Bolen and then a 33-yard field goal by Arthur Carmody in the final minute of the game to give Louisville a 41-38 edge.

So the blackout does seem to have a positive effect for Louisville, even if the history is not all that deep. Will this winning tradition continue on Labor Day, September 1, when the Miami Hurricanes storm into town? Remember, Miami will be looking to play the role of spoiler for a number of reasons, including getting even for an embarrassing performance in the Russell Athletic Bowl last bowl season at the expense of the Cardinals.

What do you think about Louisville’s all-black uniforms? Yay or Nay?

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  1. […] The offseason is starting to shift into full preview mode for college football fans, which is fantastic. Hopefully, this means no more rankings of scoreboards and more discussion on wins and losses, key players and so on. This morning this tweet from Philadelphia sports radio station 94 WIP caught my eye while I was writing something up about Louisville’s black out uniforms; […]

  2. […] The offseason is starting to shift into full preview mode for college football fans, which is fantastic. Hopefully, this means no more rankings of scoreboards and more discussion on wins and losses, key players and so on. This morning this tweet from Philadelphia sports radio station 94 WIP caught my eye while I was writing something up about Louisville’s black out uniforms; […]