Charlie Strong poses with Tom Jurich, his current boss, and Seth Hancock (left), a close friend and adviser.  (UofLCardGame photo)

So will Charlie Strong stay or go?

The name of the University of Louisville football coach keeps coming up with every potential SEC vacancy that comes up. Tennessee, Arkansas, Auburn. You name it and Strong has been rumored to have been on the short list.

Some reports indicate that Tennessee requested permission to talk with Strong so he’s apparently listening to someone in Knoxville. Whether he’s using this is as opportunity to amp up his salary at UofL remains to be seen. Jurich has said he will match any offer Strong gets, and the coach just might want to raise the ceiling.

The observer is confident that Seth Hancock, one of Strong’s closest friends and advisors, has received a call from the coach. The Lexington thoroughbred owner and University of Kentucky backer is also well connected in the Southeastern Conference. He was on hand for the press conference when Strong was named the UofL football in 2009.

While Jurich has been highly supportive publicly in wanting to keep Strong at UofL, there is some speculation that he wouldn’t be all that disappointed if the coach took advantage of an opportunity to coach in the SEC. While Louisville won 10 games this season against a soft schedule, the lack of overall improvement was questionable from the first game through the final one.

Charlie Strong has to be conflicted between coaching his first BCS game at Louisville or realizing a dream of becoming a head coach in the SEC.

If Strong were to leave, there’s another coach available with a history at Louisville and a successful track record in both the Big East and the SEC. Are you ready for this? None other than Bobby Petrino, the former UofL coach, always attuned to job openings.

While his parting from previous jobs has always been ugly, there are some who believe Petrino may be on Jurich’s list. Petrino is very much available, and he wins and wins big, he maintains tight control over athletes, and he’s never had problems with the NCAA. He still has strong ties to the community with his daughter Katie a member of the UofL golf team.

Petrino would be a controversial choice, for sure, raising eye brows at home and throughout the football nation, including UofL’s new partners in the Atlantic Coast Conference. But privately the ACC would probably approve, needing the ACC’s football product to improve. Any agreement with him would have to include a very high buyout provision for the coach.

Stranger things are happening in college football. Fans should have an answer pretty soon. There’s only so many coaching rumor denials one can make before deciding whether to call in the moving vans.

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By Charlie Springer

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

21 thoughts on “Charlie Strong, staying or leaving?”
  1. I’ve had a bad feeling about Strong’s situation since the Jurich/ACC press conference when Tom said “there comes a point where they (coaches) have to want to be here” in direct response to a question asking about Charlie staying at Louisville.

    Situation is confusing to me. Charlie has always expressed his loyalty to this program and is in prime shape to take it to places it has never been. Louisville now has the money to compete with the bigger programs so one would figure $$$ wouldn’t be an issue. Yet, all we’ve heard over the past week is Charlie interviewing at Auburn and Tennessee. I don’t get what’s not to like about his current situation, other than Louisville isn’t and won’t be in the SEC. So what? Texas, Oregon, Ohio St, and Notre Dame didn’t need the SEC to make it to the National Championship game. Add the fact that college football is finally moving to a playoff format and the need to be in the SEC diminishes substantially. Doesn’t make sense unless Strong and Jurich are at serious odds over something.

    About Petrino, as unpopular as it may be and the black eye Louisville will take in the media for rehiring him, I personally would support it. Like him or not, he left this program in a much better place than he found it and would likely do the same if he returned. I’d prefer Strong to stay and keep building, but if he leaves, the point was raised that the team did not improve over the course of the whole season. I agree. And, take away Bridgewater and we would’ve sucked, hard. There were issues there all year with the D. The same D that was awesome last year. I never understood why we saw no changes, no adjustments in the obvious areas. Quite frankly, Bobby P. wouldn’t have let any of it go on.

    Ultimately, would love for Charlie to stay, but if he shows his true colors and bolts for the money, bring back Petrino and his high-powered offense.

    1. LK…Are you kidding me? Petrino at U of L again. If that happens I’ll take my BS Degree and burn it and stop my $ support for UofL entirely. Do you want a football coach with no morals that will sneak out of town first chance he gets after he finishes dating your daughter?
      Charlie Stong – great! Petrino returns and I leave forever and will never again admit to being a UofL alumn.

  2. You are a real jackass for suggesting that this team hasn’t improved…..10-2 with freshmen and sophomores…..It sounds like you are real Petrino homer and you really want Strong gone so that Petrino can look like the man who got Bridgewater the Heisman…..I guess you secretly pull for UK…….You are a classless scumbag for this article….

    1. I think what the poster is saying is the team hasn’t improved from the start of the season to now, contrary to how most teams get better as the season goes along. The same problems early on are still issues now. At least that’s how I took it. They’ve definitely improved if you compare this season to last, especially Teddy.

  3. Enough already !!! that’s why we have good and honorable coaches turning into Bobby Petrinos, all this darn premature, nonsenseical speculation about him leaving is beginning to spoil all of beauty from last week. This guy is staying… so relax, enjoy and let the rest of us enjoy too …

  4. Footballs and football coaches; you never know which way they will bounce.

    I hope Charlie stays, but not because I think he is a great football coach. Maybe one day, but he is still learning, just as our players are still learning. I agree with Charlie that some of our early deficiencies have not been corrected, we make the same mistakes over and over. And, that falls to coaching. But I hope Strong stays because I believe in his future and I believe he is the type of man we want representing our school.

  5. I hope Charlie Strong stays. Chasing dollars and an SEC coaching position may be good for some – and may be for Strong too – but there’s something to be said for happiness. I’m sure John Gruden was offered a boat-load to coach Tennessee, but he says he likes what he’s doing. Sometimes it’s not about the $ or prestige.

    I’m a bit surprised that Louisville fans aren’t blasting Strong like they did Petrino when he supposedly was talking to Auburn. I remember comments like “if he doesn’t want us we don’t want him.” I never begrudge anyone for looking for something else if that’s what they want to do – maybe because I see college sports more as a business — schools will let a coach go in a heartbeat. I thought Petrino got blasted unfairly and he did the same thing that Strong is doing now.

    I do want the Cards to continue being successful and moving in the right direction. As much as I liked Petrino’s results – I still beleive he’s the best/most successful coach Louisvilles every had (look at the results – I don’t think I’d like him back. Not because he left for another school, but because of his off-field behavior. Not the type of character Louisville needs, despite his success. John L. Smith is available too (joke).

    If Strong thinks he can find something bigger and better elsewhere – and be happy – then that’s his decision. As the Cards prepare for the Sugar Bowl, the players/coaches/fans don’t need the distraction of whether Strong will even coach that game. If you look back on this site at the comments made about Petrino you’d see a stark difference from what’s being said about Strong. Not sure why that is.

    I hope the Cards will be focused and win the Sugar Bowl, with Strong, and I hope he remains the coach.

  6. I agree that we will eventually find out one way or another, but as a business man and speaking strictly from a business perspective I understand why Strong is possibly entertaining; Jurich and Ramsey have stated that they will keep Strong and “money is no object.” If you heard this as an employee would you not seek leverage? Instead of locking him into a more lucrative contract they have basically baited it to if “if you have leverage then come speak with us” and will will match…but leaving it open and failing to go after him in a more secure way leaves us open to these types of poaching. My humble opinion. Love Jurich and he is to blame/credit for all that is right with UofL athletics right now but he should have locked Strong down in a feel good contract versus leave an open statement of ‘money is no object.’

  7. Well said, Bob Onthes; I agree 100%. If my boss told me, “I’ll give you a raise if you find a better offer”, you bet your a$$ I’d go looking. I, however, wouldn’t stay with a company that forced me to get competing offers to get a raise. Can’t Jurich just reward a job well done?

  8. After listening to Charlie Strong’s comments today , I will hold the door open when he leaves, and kick him in the ass on the way out! REALLY, we’re trying to sell Sugar Bowl tickets, and you’re making jabs at the fan base? Are you blaming us because you didn’t have the team prepared for UCONN? And to compare us to, of all people, Big Blue Nation? KMA! Somebody show this guy a tape of the ’06 Orange Bowl! Go to UT, and see what happens after TWO years of losing! They will park a moving van in your driveway! He is very obviously making parting shots that stink of the John L comments when he left!

    1. Thanks Don. Have to agree with everything you say. The timing is horrible. The attitude is really strange, maybe left over from comments while we were losing those two games and looking horrible doing it. The defense did improve after the UConn loss, have to admit that. I don’t think he’s used to the criticism, and needs to recognize it comes with the job, along with building the fan base.

      1. If he can’t deal with the critics here, he hasn’t seen anything , yet, if he goes to the SEC! I’m am shocked at the “Big Blue Nation” comment! It doesn’t make sense that he would say that, and UK fans ran his friend , Joker, out of town. Maybe he needs a press agent to handle these conferences, because this one got out of control!

        1. Guessing he was referring to UK basketball fans. Maybe the noon kick-off and 9am Card March on a holiday weekend had something to do with it. It takes decades to build programs that win multiple national championships. Louisville hired the 49 year old assistant when no SEC team offered a head coaching position. We’ve supported him for three years after living through John L and kragthorpe years. We are all improving – fans, team and coaches. Let’s keep it going.

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