After weeks of wild speculation, innuendo and outright lies by some of the outside parties that wanted to be involved, Charlie Strong made it official Thursday morning. He will remain the head coach of the University of Louisville football Cardinals. Tennessee made a late play for the coach, but in the end, the loyalty of Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich the love he’s received from the city will keep Strong the Cardinal head man.
Supposed overtures from Arkansas and Auburn fueled controversy and sports networks didn’t seem to want the hype to die down because it puts eyeballs on their websites. They reported false rumors as facts, refused to properly source their stories and generally kept the pot stirred. At the end of all that, coach Strong had to address questions he would have rather not answered because, as he said, he wanted to keep his team focused on their upcoming Sugar Bowl bid.
He came to the podium dressed in red, which said everything that needed to be said. He talked in glowing terms about Jurich’s commitment to him. He mentioned that during his 27 years as an assistant that he was on lots of short lists. Jurich told him said he was the only candidate on the University of Louisville’s list. That kind of commitment went a long way in Strong’s book.
“We haven’t finished the job yet,” Strong said. “It was crystal clear to me that I need to stay at the University of Louisville.”
He did say that the University of Tennessee job is a good job but when he and Jurich talked initially, he mentioned that he was pretty sure he was staying because the athletic department showing how much they wanted him at Louisville. He mentioned that Jurich game him a contract extension when his record was 9-10. That went a long way in Strong’s book.
The flirtation with Tennessee began after the Rutgers game but the official offer didn’t come until Tuesday. He said there was no back and forth. The Volunteers told him their deal, he considered it and decided to stay put. The stability of the football program, as well as the other athletic programs was a big decider.
Strong talked about the fans in the city and how much love Louisville has shown to him and his family. He talked about how his wife and daughters have become Louisvillians and that helped in the decision. Strong didn’t appear to consider the conference questions. He’s coached in the Southeastern Conference and the chance to go back didn’t sway him.
The discussion during the press conference kept going back to Tom Jurich and how much coach Strong felt that Louisville’s athletic director has all programs at a high level. What Jurich has done kept Strong focused on Cardinal football. The two haven’t discussed contract extension as most of the fake speculation from other media claimed. Those “sources” continued to get it wrong and Strong put all that “news” to rest.
“My enthusiasm and heart is with the University of Louisville,” Strong said. “I have a great job.”