LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It was the first chance for University of Louisville football fans to see Head Coach Bobby Petrino back on the field as the Cards held their first open spring practice Tuesday afternoon. The fans were excited to see their former coach and get up close to this year's team. The odd thing was, there were very few fans there.
Back with his high flying offense, Coach Bobby Petrino heads into 2014 with a new playbook for the Cards and a new conference in the ACC that includes a game with National Champ Florida State.
Fan Josh Berry said, "I think we'll step up and play with the best of them!"
Fan Amye Shouse added of the excitement for the new season, "I think it's going to be great, I'm excited, I can't wait for it to get started."
It had all the makings for a big crowd for the spring's first open practice. After all, during the Cards open practice last year, hundreds of fans crowded into the practice field sidelines, 10 to 12 people deep. They climbed the fence, got on shoulders and on their toes just to get a peak.
"No knock on Charlie, but we're just elated that Coach Petrino is back," said fan and player parent Kyrus Rowan.
With that said, less than100 fans were on hand for Petrino's first open practice inside Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Fans like John Nolley are certain it's not a reflection on Petrino. "He's an offensive genius, I mean he puts numbers on the scoreboard, he doesn't hold back anything and I think he's got the crew to do it."
There may be a number of reasons why fans didn't make it out.
A chilly cloudy Tuesday at 4 in the afternoon doesn't help. The huge crowd we found last year came on a sunny day in August after 5 p.m.
Second, many fans didn't know about it. With all talk turned to basketball and the NCAA tournament this week, there was hardly any publicity.
And some fans who did make it out said it could have been because the practice was held inside the stadium, "It's not a secret location, but we've never done this here," Rowan said.
Rowan, the proud papa of starting left tackle Jamon Brown sumed it up: Location and notification. We found several fans going to the practice field where it usually is. Rowan smiled, "I don't think people can find it because there's a lot of cars out there, but not that many people in here, so I'm wondering if they know where we are?"
Maybe most important, Coach Petrino's practices are open, giving fans plenty of opportunity to see the team. Former Coach Charlie Strong limited open practices to a couple per year.
So the empty stadium now? They're certain it won't be when the games fire up.
Card fan Troy Cischke said of the upcoming ACC season, "You used to be able to walk down the road and get a $10 ticket, you're not doing that anymore because it's going to be packed and it's going to be a madhouse."
A few fans told us on Twitter, as much as they love the football Cards, they really can't get into the new season until basketball's madness is over.
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