Louisville’s men’s basketball team has taken a very long and strange trip through the past decade, as fans have experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows since the program secured a national championship in 2013.
The Cardinals are currently in the midst of one of the most disastrous seasons in the school’s history as the team continues to explore what rock bottom really looks like thanks to one of the more notable falls from grace in recent memory.
The biggest factor in that decline is undoubtedly the departure of Rick Pitino, the legendary coach who was kicked to the curb in 2017 following a series of high-profile scandals.
Louisville was one of the eight programs that were implicated in the FBI investigation concerning illegal payments to recruits, which led to the NCAA bringing down the hammer on the schools that were caught up in the ensuing firestorm.
When everything was said and done, the Cardinals were ordered to officially vacate 123 wins they’d racked up between 2011 and 2015, which included the team’s 82-76 victory over Michigan in the 2013 title game.
While the vast majority of college basketball fans still consider that squad the true national champs, the NCAA has essentially forbidden Louisville from acknowledging the achievement. However, it appears the university has come up with a creative workaround to commemorate it close to a decade later.
According to Mike Rutherford, the team is doing what it can to give fans some incentive to attend a game as the Cardinals limp toward the end of their abysmal campaign with the “FINAL COACHES POLL #!” banner it will reportedly raise to the rafters in the KFC Yum! Center when Louisville hosts Clemson on Saturday.
Fwiw, here’s the message that members of the 2012-13 national championship team got about the new banner going up at the Yum Center: pic.twitter.com/uXNOHekCY1
— Mike Rutherford (@CardChronicle) February 13, 2023
As the email notes, Louisville attempted to convince the NCAA to allow it to refer to the 2013 team as “NATIONAL CHAMPIONS” only to see its request rebuked, so it looks like they’ve settled for the next best thing.