Who knew the Fenway Bowl would become so interesting for New England Patriots fans?
The 2022 Fenway Bowl is scheduled to take place on Dec. 17 at Fenway Park. The two teams lucky enough to take part in the first official playing of the game are the Louisville Cardinals and Cincinnati Bearcats — who have a rivalry stretching back to the early 20th century. That rivalry got a bit more interesting this week, as former Louisville coach Scott Satterfield left the program to take a new job. The program he’s taking over for? That’s right, Cincinnati.
Satterfield’s move up I-71 has left an opening for the Cardinals as they prepare for the game. Much like the Indianapolis Colts did with Jeff Saturday at the NFL level this season, Louisville has looked toward a former player — two-time Super Bowl champion Deion Branch.
Branch, who spent seven of his 12 NFL seasons as a member of the Patriots, will return to the Boston area and coach his alma mater in a one-off game sure to draw attention from fans of both New England and Louisville. The 43-year-old has been working as Louisville’s director of player development and alumni relations, but has not held coaching responsibilities for the university in the past and isn’t a candidate to be the Cardinals’ next full-time head coach, per Louisville athletic director Josh Heird. Instead, Louisville will take its time looking to replace Satterfield and will roll into its only remaining game on the schedule with Branch at the helm.
“I just started thinking about the guys in the locker room and the city,” Branch said in his introductory press conference. “I know what this means to the city. … No I am not going to be the head coach, this is more about me wanting to lead these young men on the field. We have a bowl game and we want to win that bowl game.”
Surprisingly enough, the Cardinals have opened up as 2.5-point favorites over the Bearcats for their matchup on Dec. 17. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET.