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University of Louisville News & Perspectives

Old guard taking notice of Charlie Strong at Louisville

Charlie Strong got a little emotional when was he was announced as head football coach at the University of Louisville in December 2009. (Card Game photo)

So how will Charlie Strong respond when offers start coming in from other college football programs?

His name has already been mentioned in connection with vacancies at Penn State, Texas A&M and Mississippi. Openings also exist at Illinois, Arizona State and UCLA. Charlie Strong will be getting some feelers, if he hasn’t already.

University of Louisville fans have been through this before, much too often, usually coming out on the losing end. Howard Schnellenberger, John L. Smith and Bobby Petrino, coaches who said they loved this community, a great place to raise a family, each of them quickly making decisions to leave when so-called opportunity knocked for them.


Football coaches, it seems pretty obvious, are driven by a powerful urge to be members of the old guard, to be included in college football’s inner circle, the predictable, the traditional powers, largely state schools. They relish the speculation, the attention, the recognition, and all the dollars that go with the adulation. While they may enjoy their current positions, they rarely are able to resist the appeal of schools with better established tradition.

They all want to be the next Knute Rockne, whether they’ve seen old movies or not, all except Schnelly, who is happy being Schnelly, having created his own legendery mystique.

The opportunity of taking a program they have nurtured and developed to another level, possibly creating another national power, proving themselves capable of competing and winning anywhere never seems to occur to them. The idea of remaining loyal to a non-traditional power that took a chance on them doesn’t hold any sway of the typical coach. They will swear their undying love to a school and a community until they sign the new contract that takes them elsewhere.

Is Charlie Strong any different? He’s obviously a good teacher and an exceptional individual, qualities that Tom Jurich recognized early on by renegotiating the terms of his contract, raising his annual base pay from $1.6 million to $2.3 million and extending his contract by seven years. We believe Jurich would be willing to go back to the well in an effort to hold on to Strong, if he is given the opportunity.

Some want to believe that Strong has a special bond with U of L, which gave him his first head coaching opportunity after many other schools has chosen to bypass him. He was, indeed, grateful. That was Charlie Strong choking up, shedding real tears when he was announced as the new UofL coach in December 9, 2009 at the Brown & Williamson Club.

Defensive end Greg Scruggs was there that day, celebrating the new coach, and he was there a month or so ago when Jurich announced the pay increase and the contract extension, telling ESPN:  “This is what Coach Strong wants to build up,” Scruggs said. “It’s not like this is a stop-and-go for anything. Coach Strong wants to make this his empire. Coach Strong wants his mark to be on this university.”

Charlie Strong, however,  hails from the old guard, having tasted success at the highest level of the college football world and, if he is like the average Joe in the coaching fraternity, he most likely will take advantage of the opportunity to prove that he belongs at a perceived higher echelon.

We would like to believe he is different, and will likely know for certain very soon.

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Charlie Springer

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

10 thoughts on “Old guard taking notice of Charlie Strong at Louisville

  • December 2, 2011 at 10:46 am

    You make some good points as they apply to football coaches, and they would probably apply to coaches in genereal. I would like to believe he would stay. But that’s the heart talking, not my head.

  • December 2, 2011 at 11:06 am

    I’m willing to bet that Coach Strong STAYS at Louisville. For some reason, when he was hired, I knew he was of different character. He recognizes what his predecessors failed to: Louisville IS a destination job. Top notch facilities, best AD in the country who will provide him all the money he will ever need a fanbase that’s loyal and hungry, and an opportunity to be coach who can build an empire and a legacy of his own instead of being a ready made coach at a ready made program.

  • December 2, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Only time will answer this question. If Jurich keeps us in the Big East, I could see Coach Strong leaving. Jurich should have gotten us in the Big 12.

    • December 2, 2011 at 6:41 pm

      Deuce Wales, the star RB at Central, was quoted as saying Kenny Carter, the UofL RB coach who is recruiting him, told him that we will be in the Big XII. Of course recruiters have been known to expand the truth but I am inclined to believe him.

  • December 2, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    I really feel like we’ve turned the page on the Krap that was left behind.

    I hoope so much that Coach Strong stays here and builds his own Louisville legacy like Coach Crum.

  • December 2, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    I will say here as I have on other blogs/boards…IMHO Charlie Strong will become the “Denny Crum” of U of L Football. Just like Denny turned down UCLA, Charlie will turn down Florida, Ohio State, and others.

    He knows he is building the next National Championship program, and just like Howard, he will stay until that is accomplished. CCS is in it for the long haul!

    And until I’m proven wrong…that’s my story (fantasy) and I’m sticking to it!!!


  • December 2, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    I am of the opinion that opportunity didn’t just come knocking for Coach Pinocchio. He went to the hardware store and bought several cases of knockers. At every opportunity.

  • December 2, 2011 at 9:42 pm

    We have to sonsider the fact that Charlie Strong did pick Louisville because he loved our city and community. He took a head coaching job to make a large income. Coach Strong cme to Louisville because we were the only BCS school to offer him a head coaching job. This is a business transaction pure and simple. Coach Strong has no ties to this community. So he could leave, just like John L. Smith and Bobby Petrino did. We shall see. However, remember coaching is job and business, so he may looking for the highest salary out there. It drives most of us, the salary.

  • December 3, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    Coach Strong has turned the program around, we should all be thankful for that. It was nice to see Coach Strong behind the bench for the bball game last night.

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