The room goes quiet, a tear rolling down Charlie Strong’s cheek during the December 2009 press conference announcing his appointment as head football coach at the University of Louisville.
Grateful for an opportunity after numerous turn downs, wondering for years if the chance would ever come. Expressing his appreciation to Tom Jurich, onlookers assuming a long-time commitment from someone so humble, so appreciative.
That was then, before he took his teams to four straight bowl games, winning three of them, including a BCS Sugar Bowl last year, proclaiming UofL fans to be the most valuable players. He would also win 37 games against only 15 losses. He seemed the perfect fit for Louisville.
A late Friday report from Orangebloods.com, a Texas fan site, indicated that Texas wants Strong to be its next coach, and that Strong is expected to accept the offer. Already one of the top 10 best paid coaches in America, Strong apparently couldn’t turn down the offer.
Not that this comes as a great shock to UofL fans who have seen this scenario played out at least four times over the last two decades. No matter how happy football coaches say they are, they are always looking around, happy to assume caretaker positions at more traditional football programs.
What they fail to envision is how much greater their legacies could be by taking a University of Louisville program to the top. Jurich had said he would match any offer to keep Strong at UofL. But not even he could compete with Texas money.
Strong has the program going in the right direction and fan support has increased dramatically, establishing all-time attendance records during the past season. What he was able to do was to post impressive bowl wins despite never winning sole possession of a conference championship in the Big East or the American Athletic Conference.
Like most successful football coaches at UofL, Strong feels he’s destined for greater things. Sounds like sour grapes, but most of them didn’t last very long elsewhere.
If anyone deserves continued success, however, it is Charlie Strong. Louisville fans are appreciative all what he has done and should be prepared to move on.
The Charlie Strong train may be headed west.