American Football Wiki
Louisville Cardinals football
Current season:
2021 Louisville Cardinals
Louisville Cardinals.png NCAA-ACC-Louisville Cardinals white helmet-white facemask.png
First season 1912
Athletic director Vince Tyra
Head coach Scott Satterfield
2nd year, 12–12 (.500)
Home stadium Cardinal Stadium
Stadium capacity 61,000[1]
Stadium surface FieldTurf
Location Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
Conference Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC)
Division Atlantic
Past conferences Independent (1912–1962)
MVC (1963–1974)
I-A Independent (1975–1995)
Conference USA (1996–2004)
Big East Conference (2005–2012)
The American (2013)
All-time history
Template:Louisville Cardinals football history
All-time record 522–473–17 (.524)
Postseason bowl record 11–11–1 (.500)
Conference titles 8 (2 Missouri Valley Conference, 3 Conference USA, 3 Big East)
Division titles 1
Rivalries Kentucky (rivalry)
Memphis (rivalry)
Cincinnati (rivalry)
Heisman winners 1 Lamar Jackson (2016)
Current uniform
NCAA-ACC-Louisville Cardinals uniforms.png
Colors Cardinal Red and Black


Fight song Fight! UofL
Mascot Louie The Cardinal Bird
Marching band U of L Cardinal Marching Band (Marching Cards)
Outfitter Adidas

The Louisville Cardinals football team represents the University of Louisville located in Louisville, Kentucky. The Cardinals are a member of the NCAA FBS Atlantic Coast Conference, having previously been a member of the American Athletic Conference. The Cardinals play their home games at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville and are currently coached by Scott Satterfield.

Brief History

Early history (1912–1924)

The University of Louisville began playing football in 1912 where the Cardinals went 3–1. Louisville had played several years at club level and teams were mostly composed with medical students. Beginning in 1914 the Cardinals joined the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association (SIAA) and they would participate in Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (KIAC). Due to financial difficulty Louisville did not participate in the 1917–1921 seasons. Italic

When the Cardinals did rejoin football they came back into the SIAA which was going through reorganization losing most major state schools and thus became a small college conference. The Cardinals would face mostly Kentucky state schools such as Eastern Kentucky, Murray State, Western Kentucky, and Morehead State, along with private state schools like Centre, Transylvania, Kentucky Wesleyan, and Georgetown College.

Tom King era (1925–1930)

The 1926 football team saw success thanks to the direction of AD-Head Coach Tom King. King was the first coach to attempt to build a program at Louisville. King played college football at Notre Dame (1915–1916) under Coach Palmer and Knute Rockne. King was an undersized end for the Irish and was known[by whom?] for his athleticism and speed. Before he came to the football team for punt returns he was on the track team and basketball team, where he was named captain in 1916. His experience at Notre Dame gave him ideas on developing a spread wing offense so his undersized players could be better utilized. He often recruited players like him, that had the ability to outrun their opponent.

His first standout was Fred Koster; at only 160 pounds he was not big enough to play at Male High School. Koster drew national attention to Louisville in 1926 by racking up 68 points in his first 2 games of the season. In six games, Koster scored 18 touchdowns, 10 extra points, and 2 field goals and went on to finish second in scoring in college football with 124 points. Koster was an all-around athlete and was a letterman 16 times, 4 times in each baseball, basketball, football, and track.

King had the program going in the right direction until he decided to play Detroit for $10,000. Rockne who was head coach at Notre Dame, and a fellow graduate called King and asked if he would take the Detroit game because Rockne felt his team was not up to it. When King asked what was in it for Louisville Rockne replied $10,000, which was a substantial sum of money in 1928 for an athletics department. Louisville started the season with a 72–0 win over Eastern Kentucky but when they traveled to Detroit they were hammered with injuries and did not win another game or score for the rest of the season, as Detroit went undefeated and claimed a share of the national title.[2]

King served as head football coach for two more years but he also served as track, baseball, basketball and athletic director during his tenure at Louisville. Louisville athletics took a step back when Dr. Raymond Kent was announced as the new president of Louisville. Dr. Kent began reducing the budget in the athletics department, making it difficult for teams to travel and outfit themselves. King on the advice of his friend Rockne moved on and in 1933 became assistant coach at Michigan State.[3]

Louisville Athletics took a step back across all sports and in football posted one winning season until World War II. With the onset of World War II, Louisville, like many college athletic programs around the country, was put on suspension until 1946. During that time Louisville played mostly within KIAC and posted a 73–118–8 record with a .378 winning percentage.

Frank Camp era (1946–1968)

Frank Camp revived the Cardinal Program in 1946 after World War II ended. Camp was collegiate player at Transylvania University in both football and basketball went on to accumulate a 102–35–04 record as a high school coach before he was tabbed for the head job at Louisville. Camp was responsible for moving away from the traditional KIAC competition and moving towards a more competitive schedule including match ups against some powerhouse traditional teams. Camp would see success early after going 7–0–1 in his second year and was accredited for being able to gel current players with the new recruits returning from war.

Camp, like King, would see another President pull resources and scholarships in the early 1950s would see both Otto Knop, who at the time was being recruited by Bear Bryant of Kentucky, and Johnny Unitas, who was being recruited by Indiana, elect to stay at Louisville and play for Camp. Louisville did see a lot of talent leave and they went into a slump from 1950 to 1954. Camp would only suffer two losing seasons for the rest of his career. The loss of the scholarships saw a loss talent on the team. So when scholarships were again available Camp would start to recruit black players and integrate the sports program at Louisville. Camp's legacy is tied to three players he brought to Louisville Johnny Unitas, Lenny Lyles and Otto Knop.

The most enduring legacy Camp left behind was pioneering integration in southern athletics. Camp's first African-American player was Lawrence "Bumpy" Simmons, a local product from Central High School. He only played one year in 1952 and left the team on good terms. Camp would bring in Andy Walker, George Cain and Lenny Lyles in 1954 and they would become the first black scholarship players at Louisville. Once the university was integrated in 1951, Camp and his assistant coach, Wood, sought out potential recruits. Coach Wood would be integral in bringing in Lyles who was also a track star. All three players would go on to become starters and Lyles and Cain would become a dangerous tandem in the backfield.[4]

Camp would introduce the rivalry of Memphis, taking the Cards out of independency and joining the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) and lead the Cards to their first bowl game during his tenure. The University of Louisville made its first bowl appearance January 1, 1958, as Frank Camp's squad battered Drake 34–20 in the Sun Bowl. The victory over the Drake Bulldogs capped a near-perfect season for the Cardinals. UofL finished with a 9–1 record. Louisville's squad was headed by Lenny Lyles, the nation's leading rusher. Unfortunately, Lyles went down in the first quarter with an injury. He managed just six yards on two carries. In Lyles' absence, Ken Porco and Pete Bryant stepped forward offensively. Porco ran for a game-high 119 yards on 20 carries. Bryant added 80 yards on 14 carries, while also tossing a 20-yard scoring pass.[5]

Camp coached the Cardinals until his retirement following the 1968 season. Camp is the Cardinals' all-time wins leader among head coaches in Louisville football history. Camp would also see the Cardinals leave Parkway Field and move to Manual Stadium. The stadium held 17,000 seats and was relief for players because they no longer had to play on a baseball field and it was well lit. The Cards would then move to Old Cardinal Stadium in 1957 and it would serve as their home until they moved to Cardinal Stadium, formerly Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in 1998. In their inaugural season at Cardinal Stadium the Cardinals finished the season 9–1 with their first bowl appearance winning in the Sun Bowl against Drake 34–20. Louisville ended I-A independence by joining the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) in 1963 only to leave for independency again in 1974. During Camp's tenure at Louisville he amassed a 118–95–2 record with a 1–0 bowl record to become the all-time winningest coach at Louisville. He retired following the 1968 season.

Recent history

Under the guidance of head coaches John L. Smith (1998–2002) and Bobby Petrino (2003–2007), the Louisville football program went to nine consecutive bowl games, a streak that ended in the 2007 season.

Under Coach Smith, the Cardinals spent 11 weeks in the AP Top 25, including a #17 final finish in 2000.

Under Coach Petrino, the Cardinals were ranked in all but three of the weekly AP polls since the beginning of the 2004 season. This includes a #6 final finish in both 2004 and 2006, as well as a #19 final finish in 2005.

In the 2004 season, the Cardinals went 11–1 and won the Conference USA Championship; their only loss was against third-ranked Miami, a game in which the Cardinals led by 17 in the third quarter before falling. The Cardinals went to the Liberty Bowl, where they defeated #10-ranked and previously-undefeated Boise State.

In 2005, the Cardinals finished 9–3 after falling to Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl and completed the season ranked #19 in the AP Poll and #20 in the Coaches' Poll.

In 2006, the Cardinals began the season ranked #13 in the AP poll and finished the season with a 12–1 record, their first Big East Conference title and completed the season with a 24-13 victory over the Atlantic Coast Conference champion Wake Forest in the Orange Bowl. The Cards finished the 2006 season ranked #6 in the AP Poll and #7 in the Coaches Poll, while being ranked #6 in the Bowl Championship Series Poll.

On January 9, 2007, Steve Kragthorpe was introduced as the new head coach of the Cardinals, within 48 hours after Bobby Petrino announced his departure to take the head coaching position with the Atlanta Falcons of the National Football League. The Cardinals went 6–6 in Kragthorpe's first season and the second season 5–7. He was fired after his third season (2009) ended with a disappointing 4-8 record. Kragthorpe's replacement is Charlie Strong, formerly the defensive coordinator at Florida, and the second African American to head the Cardinals program.

None of the football program's recent success would have been possible without the vision and efforts of former Kentucky All-American and national champion coach (at the University of Miami) Howard Schnellenberger, who was the head coach from 1985–1994. His greatest achievement at U of L was a 34–7 victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl (Alabama finished 7-5), which culminated in U of L's first national ranking (11th) and a 10–1–1 record.



Image gallery

Recent season results


Season Coach Record
2020 Scott Satterfield 4-7


Season Coach Record
2019 Scott Satterfield 8-5
2018 Bobby Petrino; Lorenzo Ward 2-10
2017 Bobby Petrino 8-5
2016 Bobby Petrino 9-4
2015 Bobby Petrino 8-5
2014 Bobby Petrino 9-4
2013 Charlie Strong 12-1
2012 Charlie Strong 11-2
2011 Charlie Strong 7-6
2010 Charlie Strong 7-6


Season Coach Record
2009 Steve Kragthorpe 4-8
2008 Steve Kragthorpe 5-7
2007 Steve Kragthorpe 6-6
2006 Bobby Petrino 12-1
2005 Bobby Petrino 9-3
2004 Bobby Petrino 11-1
2003 Bobby Petrino 9-4
2002 John L. Smith 7-6
2001 John L. Smith 11-2
2000 John L. Smith 9-3

Notable Alumni


  1. Vince Tyra says addition to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium will be closer to 6,000 seats.
  2. Reed, Billy. "A Rude Introduction to Big Time Football." Louisville: Cardinal Football. Champaign, Il: Sports, 1997. 12–19. Print.
  3. Cardinal Football,Cardinal Football. Sports Pub. (1999). ISBN 9781583820483.
  4. Reed, Billy. "Frank Camp: Cornerstone to the Cardinals." Louisville: Cardinal Football. Champaign, Il: Sports, 1997. 28–36. Print.

External Links