There were several poignant moments that struck me at the conclusion of Louisville’s 33-23 Sugar Bowl win over Florida last night. Louisville coach Charlie Strong coached at Florida for thirteen seasons, and had a claim perhaps superior to Will Muschamp that he should have replaced Urban Meyer as Head Gator, and Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a prep star in Miami, was passed over by the state schools. They had been quiet and respectful approaching the Florida game, but as the game indicated confident as well.
In the post-game chaos, there was a shot of Strong running up behind Bridgewater and grabbing his shoulder pad. Bridgewater turned to Strong, who bellowed joyfully in his face before falling into his embrace. In that moment, they ceased to be player and coach in whatever that traditional notion might entail, but were bound as brothers and men each giving to and bringing the best out of each other. Later, two Florida players would interrupt Bridgewater’s television interview to hug him and offer words, and one of the ever-present Deputies at the side of Will Muschamp would break protocol to extend a hand to Strong. These were not idle gestures of pro forma courtesy, but spontaneous expressions of respect. They were earned.
At some point last week, Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch lost some respect….for the game, for his opponent and for himself. He spoke of bringing Florida State’s formidable defense to “it’s knees in the fourth quarter.” but on game night he scrambled around fruitlessly and passed innacurately for all four quarters. His words stung the ears of what might have been an under-motivated Florida State team, and earned him a beating. Their were no spontaneous gestures of respect directed toward Lynch after the game, and despite a terrific season for his school he will go into 2013 as the guy who talked big, but didn’t deliver, quite the opposite of Strong and Bridgewater.