When Charlie Strong arrived at Louisville in December of 2009 he cried at his introductory press conference. It was an emotional moment when Tom Jurich walked into Charlie Strong’s home and in front of his family (without interviewing Strong) asked him one question: “Do you want to be the Head Football Coach at Louisville?”
At the time, Coach Strong was a career assistant. 3 different stints at Florida, and a host of other destinations had Charlie Strong on the lips of Athletic Directors for years. Strong would go to interview and would return to Florida. Frustrated, Coach Strong spoke out about not landing a Head Coaching job citing race a his interracial marriage: “Everybody always said I didn’t get that job because my wife is white, She makes no calls and she plays no defense,” Strong said. When Tom Jurich offered the long over-due Head Coaching position to Strong, a swarm of other schools suddenly didn’t care about Charlie Strong’s skin color or the skin color of his spouse. All of the sudden a Football Coach could be a Football Coach.
At the end of the 2010 season Charlie Strong was mentioned for the Head Job at Florida & Miami. He remained with the Cards. In 2011, Strong was a top candidate at Penn State, and he remained in Louisville after receiving a raise and an extension in the middle of a 7-6 (2-4 at the time season). In 2012 Charlie Strong was mentioned as a top candidate at Arkansas, Auburn, and Tennessee. Coach Strong remained at Louisville and received another raise an extension.
Early in 2013 Charlie was mentioned as a top target for many NFL jobs, but now it’s Texas. Texas has the most lucrative athletic department in the country. At Texas evaluation & coaching is more important that recruiting. Politics and media are a huge part of the job. But at Texas Charlie Strong wouldn’t have to urge fans out of the parking lot and into the stadium for Senior Day.
Still, Louisville & Charlie Strong is a perfect fit. Charlie Strong has outstanding support from his administration. The fanbase instantly connected and welcomed him and his staff. Is Louisville a traditional power? Not at all. But at Louisville Coach Strong has something special. He’s able to recruit from the center of the country and leverage his Florida & Georgia connections. Coach Strong’s staff has been outstanding and moving into the ACC the Cards will have the largest athletic budget in the league BEFORE cashing in on the additional revenue that comes from being associated with the league.
Austin, Texas is a beautiful. Let’s be honest. At Texas, Strong would have outstanding resources and would be able to recruit the Top Tier of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma almost exclusively. Strong’s recruiting advantages at Florida would still be in play, but at Texas taking the top local kids would probably be the desire of the fans & boosters leaving little room for a huge tool in Strong’s tool belt. Much has been made about Strong’s media requirements at Texas, but I think that is overblown. Strong has grown tremendously in his public speaking and in his relationship with the media. He would have to do more of that and less coaching, but that is where having a top notch staff comes into play. If Strong can do anything at all, it is put together a staff of top flight coordinators and position coaches.
Texas can offer Charlie Strong more money than Louisville. Tom Jurich can probably match offers up to $6,000,000 year. But at some point the choice has to become less about money and more about wanting to be at Louisville. Tom Jurich has a track record for being a fantastic boss, Steve Patterson doesn’t and already botched the Mack Brown exit and has hired a search committee to do his job.
We also know that Charlie Strong really wouldn’t like it to be public that he had a conversation with Patterson. We can also determine that Texas through Chip Brown and Kirk Bohls really do WANT it to be known that Charlie Strong and Texas have had discussions. Bohls’ report even mentioned that Charlie Strong has reached out to current staff members at Texas to ‘perhaps’ begin laying groundwork for the new job.
It is obvious that Texas wants it known that Charlie Strong is in play. Usually that sort of behavior can be used as leverage, either for a coach to get a raise or for a school to force the hand of another candidate. Letting this information out publicly really doesn’t benefit either party. But it is out there now.
When Charlie Strong turned down Tennessee last year said about Jurich: “He gave me my first chance to be a head football coach after being an assistant for 27 years. I was always on everyone’s short list, but Tom let me know from the very beginning that I was the only one on his list.”
From what I understand Charlie Strong is on the short-list of candidates for the next head coach at Texas. By all accounts Charlie is anywhere from #3 to #6 on Texas’ wish list. Does Charlie Strong get the Texas offer? We will see. But I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Charlie Strong is #1 on Louisville’s list, it’s just for Strong to decide whether or not his “enthusiasm & heart’ are still with the University of Louisville.
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