LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Charlie Strong’s decision to stay at Louisville is the second major coup for the Cardinals in eight days.
After reports linking Strong to several openings in the Southeastern Conference, he said Thursday at press conference at the Cardinals’ football stadium. that he wasn’t going anywhere. Keeping the coach had become a priority for Louisville after announcing last week it will join the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014.
Terms of Strong’s new deal were not released. He had received a seven-year contract from Louisville last year that paid him $2.3 million per season. After Louisville announced its ACC plans, athletic director Tom Jurich expressed confidence in keeping Strong and vowed to beat any offer made to his coach
But Strong’s stock continued to rise this year.
Under Strong, the No. 22 Cardinals (10-2) won a share of the Big East Conference championship and a BCS berth in the Sugar Bowl, where they’ll face Florida.
And with his services in high demand, Louisville wanted to ensure he would stay — especially after announcing it is leaving the Big East, which is struggling to remain relevant in the constantly changing college football landscape.
“The stability of this program is always going to be solid and they’re going to do everything to make this one of the best programs in the country,” Strong said.
Strong’s decision to stay with the Cardinals ends the flirtation with the SEC, where he spent much of his 29-year coaching career. He was defensive coordinator under Urban Meyer at Florida when the Gators won national championships in 2006 and 2008, the last of four stints in Gainesville beginning in 1983.
The Arkansas native was also considered a solid candidate to coach the Razorbacks before Strong’s name came up in recent weeks for jobs at Auburn and eventually Tennessee, which made a hard push for the 52-year-old.
The lure of returning to the SEC was something Strong couldn’t just dismiss.
He talked with the Volunteers for several days and appeared to be leaning toward heading to Knoxville.
“They made an offer (Tuesday) and I said I’d think about it and talk about it with my family,” Strong said.
But in an environment when coaches are fired with winning records, Louisville’s commitment to Strong last year played a major role in his decision to turn the Vols down. The Cardinals gave him his deal last year when the team was 2-4.
Thursday culminated what has been a whirlwind few days for Strong.