LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) - Those of us who have been punished this fall by covering the University of Louisville's sadly inept football team have often wondered - especially over the past few weeks - how many different ways can you say or write it:
This team is really, really bad. Awful. Without a redeeming quality.
It lacks a trifecta of ingredients necessary for a successful college football team to possess - character, discipline and talent - and the Cardinals (2-9) have proven it time and again and week after week.
It was on display in all its ugliness Saturday afternoon after the Cards suffered through another embarrassment, this one courtesy of N.C. State by a 52-10 score in Cardinal Stadium.
At the final horn, a number of Louisville players trudged off the field heading for their locker room. Joe Miday, UofL's strength coach, tried to convince them to go congratulate the Wolfpack, an act of sportsmanship that is customary on both sides in any athletic competition. They ignored him and kept walking.
Meanwhile, defensive end Jonathan Greenard, a co-captain who hasn't played since being injured in the opener against Alabama, engaged in a shouting match with offensive lineman Lukayus McNeil.
All of this was after two players were suspended for the game for breaking team rules and starting quarterback Jawon Pass was benched for the first quarter for missing a "team obligation," in the words of interim head coach Lorenzo Ward.
What a class act this group is. And should I remind everyone that it isn't a good sign when your quarterback and co-captain, who is supposed to set an example and show leadership, can't even follow the rules himself.
Thankfully, we only have to sit through four more quarters of this dysfunction. It will all end Saturday night in Cardinal Stadium when UofL plays No. 17 Kentucky (8-3). And the prediction here is that it will end badly for Louisville. Again.
When Ward conducted his press conference Monday afternoon previewing the UK game, the Governor's Cup trophy sat on the table next to him. Hopefully, he took a good, long look at it because it's the last time he's likely to see it, unless he watches it being presented to the Wildcats during post-game ceremonies Saturday to take back to Lexington for a year.
You will read and hear a lot this week about the Cardinals playing for pride, about how this is their bowl game, about how they are determined to end the season on a high note.
So I ask: what evidence have they presented that this weekend is going to be any different than the previous eight, all of which ended in lopsided defeats? I can answer that: None. Zero. Zilch.
What UofL fans have seen throughout the season is what they're likely to get one last time against UK. Which is a Cardinal squad that became only the 10th major college football team since 1869 - that's 139 years, folks - to give up 50 points in four consecutive games and just the second Power Five team to do it, joining the 2008 Washington State club.
It defies logic to think that Louisville is going to suddenly transform itself after nearly three months of remarkedly similarly shoddy performances. UK is favored by just 17 1/2 points. Sounds like a good bet (on the Cats) to me. The Cards haven't come that close to any team since losing to Florida State 28-24 on Sept. 29 seven games ago, meekly dropping its last six by an average of 34.7 points per game. UK was the last Power Five team they beat, 44-17, in the regular season finale last year.
Still, the schedule demands that Saturday's game be played, and Coaching 101 further insists that Ward try to put the best face on UofL's chances as he possibly can. So, predictably, he spouted every coach-speak cliche' associated with this kind of situation for decades.
"I think it's all about pride," Ward said. "I think you can take records and throw them away. Traditionally, when two teams in the same state go against each other it becomes a pride game and it's something you get to brag about for 364 days a year if you win."
However, pride is one of many areas this team has shown to be lacking in its DNA. I don't expect that to change Saturday night.
Russ Brown, a former sportswriter for The Courier-Journal and USA Today, covers University of Louisville sports and college basketball and football for Kentucky Today. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.