Vaught's Views: Cassity looking forward to rivalry with UK

August 10, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

His college coaching career took him to 11 schools before he found his way to Louisville this season. Now former University of Kentucky defensive back Mike Cassity is looking forward to his first game as Louisville's defensive coordinator against - who else - Kentucky Sept. 5.

"It will really be the first time I've had any dealings with Kentucky in over 20 years," said Cassity, who graduated from UK in 1975 and coached defensive backs for the Wildcats during the 1980-81 seasons. "It's our first game, and obviously a tremendous rivalry. I am just excited about having a chance to coach in the game."

Cassity had been coaching at Illinois before accepting the chance to join Bobby Petrino's coaching staff at Louisville. That reunited him with former UK teammate Greg Nord and former coaching colleague Mike Summers.

"Greg and I not only played together at Kentucky, but we've coached together at four schools," Cassity said. "Mike and I coached together at three schools. But the greatest thing about being here is being back in Kentucky."


Nord, Louisville's running backs coach, won't hide his excitement over having Cassity on staff with him.

"He's not only one of my best friends on earth, he's one of the better football coaches in the country," Nord said. "He's already been a positive influence. And any time you can bring someone in who knows the significance of this game with Kentucky, that's only going to help us get ready for the first game."

Nord will be coaching in his 10th Kentucky-Louisville game when the rivals play in less than four weeks. Trying to beat the Wildcats has become routine to him.

Does Nord worry that Cassity might have a hard time cutting any emotional ties to Kentucky in the opening game?

"I will kick the tar out of him if that happens," Nord laughed and said. "He'll be fine. He knows how important it is for us to win that first game. Believe me, when you are coaching and preparing for the game, it really does become just another opponent."

Cassity should know. He's been across the country since starting his coaching career at Paducah Tilghman High School after leaving Kentucky.

"Once you start building associations and friendships with coaches, you become part of a close-knit fraternity," Cassity said. "I've met a lot of great people. I wouldn't trade what I've done for the world."

He believes in Hudson's system

Kentucky fans might want to know that he believes in UK offensive coordinator Ron Hudson's system. He watched how effective it was at Kansas State when he was coaching at Oklahoma State. Cassity also got a first-hand look at UK offensive line coach Paul Dunn when the two coached together at Baylor.

"I have know coach Hudson and coach Dunn for a long time," Cassity said. "Their scheme and philosophy are not going to change. Some of the faces might change, but their scheme is outstanding. I try not to read the paper and see how bad Kentucky's offense is supposed to be. I know better. They will have a good line, Paul will see to that, and Ron Hudson knows how to run an offense."

What about the Cardinals? Will Louisville's defense, which had major problems late last season, have a new look under Cassity?

"We looked at what they did last year that was good and kept it in the package and are adding things I felt were lacking," Cassity said. "We are still going to be an aggressive style of defense.

"One of the big things we are addressing is tackling. You can have all the schemes in the world, but you better be able to get off blocks and make tackles."

Especially in the opening game against Cassity's alma mater.

"I know how important the first game is any year," Cassity said. "But this year, it might be even a little more important. I can only imagine what the atmosphere for this game will be like, but I'm really looking forward to seeing for myself."

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