BOZICH | Tyra’s uncertain future the latest strange brew for Louisville athletics – WDRB

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — This Vince Tyra-University of Louisville relationship was supposed to stand the test of time, not twist into fears that Tyra was headed to the transfer portal.

“UofL is in our family’s DNA,” Tyra famously said at his introductory press conference.

The Tyra era was supposed to result in Final Fours and sexy bowl games, not an abrupt mid-season Board of Trustees meeting to discuss whether the school’s athletic director would make a lateral move to an Atlantic Coast Conference rival.


Nobody does strange better than University of Louisville athletics. It’s been this way since … fill in your favorite bizarre moment. Take your time. Plenty of selections.

Don’t forget this one: Last Friday Tyra told my colleague Eric Crawford that U of L football coach Scott Satterfield would return for a fourth season.

Made sense. Satterfield is the coach that Tyra recruited and hired from Appalachian State. He’s delivered one losing season (and one winning season) in three years. But Louisville has blown enough money on buyouts to stuff every Christmas stocking in town.

Here is where the story got strange: Less than two hours later, Pete Thamel of Yahoo Sports tweeted that Tyra was a serious candidate for the AD job at Florida State.

So you’re telling me that one minute Tyra went to bat for his guy and the next minute he was looking for the Exit Door?

Only at Louisville.

Tyra has options. He’s a former businessman who has earned respect for making the bottom line sing.

In 2020 when John Swofford announced that he planned to retire as the ACC commissioner, a source said Tyra had enough interest in the job that he asked several local leaders to write letters of recommendation. Why not?

But athletic director at Florida State?

According to the USA Today college athletics financial data base, Louisville generated more athletic revenue than FSU last year — $141 million vs. $129.5 million.

Jimbo Fisher won a football national title at FSU after following Bobby Bowden — and then took the first Lear jet to Texas A&M.

Willie Taggart didn’t make it through two complete seasons in toxic Tallahassee. Florida State fired him and went all in on Mike Norvell. He’s won 8 of 21 games in two seasons. Norvell is 0-2 against Satterfield.

Oh, yeah. Leonard Hamilton is a terrific basketball coach. He’ll also turn 74 in August.

Why would Tyra leave for that?

Perhaps because Louisville football and men’s basketball, the twin engines that fuel the athletic department, are a bit of mess. Some say the athletic director and president have collided like a linebacker and quarterback at the 50-yard line.

For more than a decade, top U of L administrators mostly stayed out of the way of the athletic department. Athletic director Tom Jurich, basketball coach Rick Pitino and a string of football coaches were the face of the university — and eventually the face of embarrassing scandals.

Important reminder: Dr. Neeli Bendapudi was recruited to do things a different way. She’s not anti-sports. She’s pro staying on the right side of the NCAA and following the chain of command.

Insiders insist that Tyra has clashed with Bendapudi over the direction of both signature programs.

Maybe Tyra was interested in moving on from Satterfield, a guy Tyra hired after he paid Bobby Petrino $14 million to scram. Bendapudi was not.

Some say that Bendapudi was interested in a stronger punishment than a 6-game suspension for U of L basketball coach Chris Mack in the aftermath of allegations by former U of L assistant Dino Gaudio that the program broke more NCAA rules while awaiting a judgment on probation. Tyra was not.

Those were just the hot spots to the turmoil that has churned through Louisville athletics year after year. All everybody agreed on was the football program needs to win more than six games and the men’s basketball program can’t miss another NCAA Tournament. Crowds at both sports have been eye-opening.

Too many scandals. Some fans are angry. Others are apathetic. Others can’t decide. It’s a disheartening brew.

Some people continue to cling to the misguided dream about the return of the  previous athletic director, men’s basketball coach and football coach.

Jurich, Rick Pitino and Petrino authored the original mess, which has grown into the current Tyra, Chris Mack, Satterfield mess.

Too much losing of games and ground to the University of Kentucky. This season’s final home game, with mainly UK fans in a mainly empty stadium, was an intolerable sight to the most ardent U of L fans.

Prominent former Black U of L basketball players have asked reasonable questions about why there are not more minorities represented in the school’s athletic administration. Bendapudi listened.

There have been too many moments that have made the rest of the country shake their heads at the latest greatest scandal here.

That’s what has been going on at Louisville. Enough to make a guy with the University of Louisville in his family’s DNA consider a job that isn’t any better than the one he already has.

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