Louisville Postgame: Being Steve Kragthorpe

Frank AhrensSenior Writer ISeptember 23, 2007

IconSCENE: Staff parking lot of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, Louisville, KY.


TIME: Saturday, Sept. 22, 2007. 9:33 P.M.


Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe has just watched his No. 18 team lose to the previously winless Syracuse Orange.


The first-year Louisville coach is the last man out of the stadium. He has endured a painful press conference, addressed his despondent players—especially QB Brian Brohm, who chose to forego the NFL draft in hopes of making a national title run—and talked his coaches off the ledge.


Kragthorpe settles into his car and turns the key.




“Great. Just great,” the coach says.


No one’s left in the building, so Kragthorpe has to call AAA.


Thirty minutes later, the tow truck arrives. The burly driver climbs out and sees Kragthorpe. First thing out of his mouth:


“What the hell happened today, coach?”


Kragthorpe sighs.


“Tough one.”


“Ya think?” says the driver, as he snorts and hooks the cables up to Kragthorpe’s dead battery. “You cost me a hundred bucks today. I got kids!”


Kragthorpe, standing next to the dead vehicle, silently slumps like a man who’s just had a 100-pound bag of sand heaved on his shoulders.


The tow truck driver jumps Kragthorpe’s car and drives off, leaving the coach alone in the parking lot with the quietly idling vehicle. The only other sound is that of the crickets. Even their usually happy chirps sound mournful.


Kragthorpe climbs back inside the car and sits for a moment. He exhales deeply.


"Maybe some music," he thinks.


He flips on the radio to his favorite classic rock station. It’s the middle of a Tom Petty song.


“And I’m free...free-fallin’...” Petty sings.


[Camera pulls out to exterior wide shot of Kragthorpe inside the car as Petty’s song swells. The coach drops his head into his hands and heaves great, gulping sobs. Fade to black.]