When Scott Satterfield attended the Kentucky Derby this year, it wasn’t only his first time at the city’s signature event but also his first time going to a horse race. Satterfield admits he didn’t know much when it came time to pick a Derby winner. He went with Win Win Win because he liked the name. Unfortunately, the horse didn’t live up to its moniker.
While Louisville’s 23rd head football coach may not be an expert at the track, he is certainly familiar with elite athletes thundering down the turf, racing toward a win. The determination Thoroughbreds show in a few minutes at Churchill Downs is the same level of fight he expects to see for 60 minutes on the football field.
“When we play during the season, we want other teams to say ‘Man, that team really plays hard,’” Satterfield said. “That’s what we want to get out of our players and hopefully that will be our trademark.”
Since Satterfield is new to the city and its whole horse racing thing, UofL Magazine took him back to Churchill Downs so the North Carolina transplant could experience the track like a true Louisvillian, without the pomp and circumstance of the Derby. We also wanted to know more about him and gain some insight into the upcoming season.
We asked Satterfield to try his hand at playing the ponies again, this time by choosing names that reminded him of the football program or gave us a little peek into his personality.
He was game.
Race #1 Coach’s Picks: Try Try Again and Trust Me Now
Why: “I like Try Try Again because that’s what we’re going to have to do for the season. We’re going to face adversity. We’ve got to have that attitude that we’re going to keep going. And Trust Me Now, you’ve got to trust in the process. That’s what it’s all about.”
Program Notes: Satterfield knows his team is following a team that struggled and he acknowledged his coaching staff and players have a lot of work to do.
“The one thing we wanted to develop when we got here was trust and we were able to do that this spring,” he said. “That’s something that’s ongoing; you do it every single day. But the players really have bought into what we’re trying to do and be more of a team. We need them to play for each other and that obviously starts with the coaching staff. We’ve got to care for these guys and get them to care for each other, and that’s what’s happening.”
Race #2 Coach’s Pick: StayOnTheGrind
Why: “I’m going with StayOnTheGrind because you’ve got to work hard and your attitude has to be in grind mode all the time.”
Program Notes: Satterfield expects his team to put in effort, whether it’s in spring practice, summer workouts or fall camp.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do in the weight room and on the field and all those things to get stronger and bigger and faster, so we’re doing that,” he said. “But the great thing about this process has been their willingness and eagerness to get better, and that’s where we are.”
And what other group Satterfield hopes sticks with it this season? The fans.
“We need the fans to be behind us during this transition to really support these players because they’re going to give it everything they have. We’re going to give it everything we have as coaches to be something they can be proud of throughout the season and hopefully we’ll finish strong this year,” he said.
Race #3 Coach’s Pick: Arrival
Why: “I’m thinking Arrival because we’re arriving on the scene. Hopefully we arrive in a victory.”
Program Notes: The 2019 season kicks off in a big way with a home game against Notre Dame. Satterfield hopes it will be another “moment” for the team and the program.
“It’s a new era for UofL football now, so hopefully everyone’s excited about it,” he said. “To bring Notre Dame here to Louisville to play on a Monday night, with a national television audience, it’s exciting. We hope we’re going to sell it out so we’ll have a full house to come out and support our team and to watch us play for the first time this season.”
While Satterfield believes this is a new day for Louisville’s program, he also thinks Arrival is a good fit for his family. After decades at Appalachian State, Satterfield and his family — wife Beth and children Bryce, Isaac and Ali — are adjusting to their new hometown. “It’s been awesome so far,” he said. “We’re really enjoying the people and the community and getting to be out and see different things, like the Derby.”
Race #4 Coach’s Pick: Rock N’ Candy
Why: “I like candy. I like rock ‘n’ roll. It sounds like this horse is fun but has a little edge.”
Program Notes: With a field that was woefully low on football-related names, Satterfield chose this horse to show off some of his personality.
So here are some Satterfield fun facts:
His music choices are fairly eclectic, but Guns N’ Roses is one of his favorites. He recently saw Metallica in concert at the KFC Yum! Center. He’s a sucker for Snickers. One of his first stops in Louisville was the Muhammad Ali Center. His favorite Louisville restaurant so far is Le Moo, but said the sheer number of great restaurants in the city “is blowing my mind.”
Race #5 Coach’s Pick: All Around
Why: “We want to be an all-around team.”
Program Notes: Fans may notice that Satterfield’s team looks a little different
than previous teams that have taken the field for Louisville. He’s not worried about what happened in the past but is focused on his players adopting new schemes and styles of play.
“We want to be a complete team. We’re really focusing on all three phases with the offense, defense and kicking game,” he said. “All around, we want to be a very efficient team. We don’t want to be a heavily penalized team. We want to take care of the ball. All the little things that enable you to win championships, that’s what we want to do.”
“We have some great skill sets at wide receiver and running back, so we’ve got to be able to get those guys the ball and let them run fast and score touchdowns,” he said. “Defensively, we’re keeping everything in front, rallying to the football, playing hard.”
Editor’s note: It turns out that it was fairly easy for Satterfield to relate horse racing to
football. But while the coach’s picks gave great insight, they wouldn’t have done too well if he’d actually placed the bets. His highest finisher for the day was fifth. That’s OK. He — and we — would rather save his wins for the football field.