New U of L Football Coach Wows Churchill Downs Crowd
By Paul Sykes
University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong held an overflow crowd of Churchill Downs Turf Club members and guests in the palm of his hand during a three-hour meet and greet Wednesday evening.
Accompanied by his wife, Strong was greeted with a rock star ovation and literally had to fight his way to the stage to speak to the raucous and appreciative crowd.
Strong was introduced by Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich, who told the crowd:
- The plan to replace Steve Kragthorpe as football coach intensified after former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy repeatedly confirmed Jurich’s beliefs about Strong as the ideal candidate to take over Cardinal football.
- U of LÂ maintained contact with Strong during his final season as Florida defensive coordinator. Strong told Jurich after the Florida vs. Arkansas game in October, “There comes a time when you have to make a change in your life and Louisville is the place I want to be.”
Strong told the crowd returning players are on a strict conditioning and workout routine under the guidance of strength coach Pat Moore, who was also in attendance. He guaranteed to the crowd “we will play hard. I can’t tell you how many games we will win our first year..but we will play hard in each and every one of them.”
Strong also went on to say that “I have never been anywhere where I have been so welcome. My family and me. People are honestly thankful I am here and that’s an incredible feeling.”
After his remarks, Strong worked the crowd, shaking hands, posing for photos and signing autographs. He was still hard at work when this attendee left at 9 p.m.
My minute of fame with Charlie tonight? A vigorous handshake and discussion of the fun appearance he had at the Parrish House on signing day. He will be back there this fall for a preseason analysis of how the team is doing in fall practice.
His words for me to share with our Card Game followers:
“Paul, tell them that I want them in the seats. Loud and crazy.”