Charlie Strong, a rare breed in his profession


Congratulations, University of Louisville fans.

You’re looking at a football coach with integrity who says what he means and means what he says. A man who takes loyalty seriously, values people who believe in him, and shares your passion for the university. Our shared experiences with people in his profession over the years underscore the fact that Charlie Strong is a rare breed in his profession.

After five of the most challenging days in his life, Strong was able to stand at the podium in the Schnellenberger Football Complex and give the reasons why he turned down an offer from the University of Tennessee to coach in the Southeastern Conference.

It's about serving others. It's about watching players come to college. It's about developing boys into men. When I thought about leaving I kept going back to we haven't finished the job yet, we're still growing together, we have a lot of work to do.

“When considering my future, I thought back to the first hours I talked to Tom Jurich. I remembered how he trusted me and how he was committed to leading the Cardinals back to a conference title, a BCS bid, and hopefully some day a national title. He gave me my first chance to be a head coach after being an assistant for 29 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. His unwavering loyalty to me and my vision has always been there.

“I also thought back to the city of Louisville and how it embraced me, my family and this football team. From the very first day I came to town, they received me with open arms. They have continued to believe since day one. I asked the team to believe in me and trust in me. I also told them we would be a family … and that we would grow together through wins and losses. I also asked the same from my coaches and their families.”

He also remembered the disappointing start last season after consecutive losses to Marshall and Florida International. “And here’s the athletic director coming to me with a contract extension,” he said.

And fans who welcomed the team back to Louisville at 4 a.m. last Friday after an emotional win over Rutgers to clinch the BCS bid. “Coach Pat Moorer gave them the trophy and let them pass it around.”

Strong didn’t want his coaching decision to be based on his ego or that of the players. “It’s about serving others. It’s about watching players come to college. It’s about developing boys into men. When I thought about leaving I kept going back to we haven’t finished the job yet, we’re still growing together, we have a lot of work to do.

“I knew this would be a great opportunity. When I thought about all the people I’ve run across in Louisville at the stadium, in the grocery store, on campus, at my daughters’ school, at their volleyball games, they’re all a part of my family.

“I celebrated when our soccer team went to the national championship match. I remember Sandy Pearsall’s softball team winning a school record 55 games. When the basketball team went to the Final Four, I was able to celebrate. I remember going to the swim match with my daughters hoping our team could win the Big East title. So much has been built in this athletic program under the leadership of Tom Jurich.

“As I talked with my family, it became crystal clear that I needed to stay here at the University of Louisville. Louisville has a special place in our heart. As I reflected over the past couple of days, I realized that the best decision was to stay here and built our football program, on the field and in the classroom … My enthusiasm and my heart are with the University of Louisville.”

Again, congratulations Louisville, you have the man overseeing the program that you’ve wanted for for so long. Three years down, hopefully many more to come.

Author: Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, as well as a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

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