If you’re looking for loyalty in college football, you may find it on a milk carton. It’s difficult to find it alive and well. Massive amounts of money are thrown every year at the proven and unproven coaches alike, leading coaches to jump ship before they’ve even unpacked boxes from the move.
UofL football coach Charlie Strong looked as if he may be one of those guys when his name surfaced in the hunt for Texas A&M’s next coach. It was hardly the first time Strong’s name appeared on the list for a vacancy. Before he coached a single down at Louisville, Strong, a former defensive coordinator at Florida, was a dark horse candidate for the Gators opening when Urban Meyer left after he realized his team was probably going to suck…I mean, when he retired to focus on his family and health. Apparently he found his health to be fine and his family to be intolerable so he’s the new head coach at Ohio State.
Back to the issue of Charlie Strong and his decision to stay. Or perhaps Texas A&M’s decision to hire Kevin Sumlin from Houston. All reports indicated the Aggies were interested in Strong after he exceeded expectations in two seasons at Louisville. Strong walked into the Louisville football program that was a marble and oak laden mansion built by Bobby Petrino and found Steve Kragthorpe had nearly burnt the place down and left a bowl of hot floaters in the toilet on the way out.
Somehow, Strong led the team to a 6-6 record and a bowl win. That was followed by this year’s 7-5 mark after a slow start and another trip to the post-season.
A turnaround like that would put Strong on the radar for a ton of teams looking for change. These teams had some change to spare (you see what I did there.) Strong was reportedly on Texas A&M very short list. He was possibly 3rd or 4th on that list, with Larry Fedora (who accepted the job at North Carolina) and Sumlin, who turned Houston into a real contender for the first time since Mr. T was pitying fools.
Sumlin will make $2 million per year over five years, which is one of the lowest paying contracts in the SEC and $300,000 less per year than Strong’s pay at Louisville.
Strong maintains he wants to stay at Louisville and build it into not only the program it once was under Petrino but he wants to maintain it when it gets there.
Great words and great goals, but let’s also remember this is Strong’s first head coaching position. He loves it now, but remember the first job you loved? Do you still have it? And, do you make more money now?
Let’s see what Strong’s answers to these questions are in the next couple of years.
Photo: Courtesy University of Louisville