Cards across-the-board wins create greater expectations - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Cards across-the-board wins create greater challenge; greater expectations

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Michael Whitehead Michael Whitehead
Kenny Klein Kenny Klein
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The conventional wisdom, and the bookies, may have called it an upset when the Cards gave #3 Florida its lumps in the Sugar Bowl. But Michael Whitehead saw the Gator-thumping coming.

"I've been a big fan for a long time, so it's not that big a deal," said Whitehead. "But it's awesome that we're doing so well."

"Thirty years ago, we were predominantly a basketball program," said Kenny Klein, the Senior Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations. "Our other programs certainly weren't at levels anywhere near where they are now."

In April, the men's basketball team won its third national title, but it was the first in 27 years. Considering basketball alone brought in more than $42 million the season before, Whitehead said, "little brother grew up, I guess."

That's much to the chagrin of fans following that certain state university 90 miles east.

The growth has been so much so that Forbes Magazine figures UofL athletics could rake in close to $100 million this year. That's Southeastern Conference level cash from a program one year away from joining the Atlantic Coast Conference. But the next level doesn't mean the Cards are soaring with eagles - yet.

"Our women's (basketball) program is upset they didn't win the National Championship," Klein said. "They want to come back and win it this year. Our baseball team isn't satisfied with the College World Series; we want to get better."

Klein admits that great success breeds great expectations. But he also believes that extra pressure can fuel the strive.

"You want to enjoy the journey," he said. "But you also know that if the fans didn't care, didn't have those higher expectations, they wouldn't be coming out.

Content with success, but not satisfied; that's the ticket. Well, it would be, if Whitehead could find the time to go to a game. Selena Gomez was the ticket that brought him to the KFC Yum! Center Thursday, all for his daughter.

"This is gonna be her Christmas present, next year's Birthday, everything rolled into one," he laughed.

Whitehead will be happy, so long as his own present is wrapped in Cardinal Red.

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