When the news broke that Urban Meyer was stepping down as head coach at Florida, I, much like most UofL fans, instantly became panic stricken at the thought of Charlie Strong leaving Louisville after a single season? After thinking about it, and thinking about, and thinking about it some more, two things became apparent: 1) I was not getting any more work done, and 2) there’s nothing but speculation right now.
It’s widely assumed Charlie would leave if Florida offered him the head coaching job and based on what I’ve read and heard, I agree with that assessment. However, I think people are jumping strait from that assumption to Charlie’s gone. And while there is a chance Charlie does leave, I think folks are missing one important point: Charlie can’t leave for Gainesville unless he is Florida’s choice.
We all saw what Charlie Strong did with a team coming off a 4-8 season. Not only did he improve the record and performance on the field, he changed the attitude and feeling around the Louisville program. Within months of being hired, the excitement was back about UofL football. Not to mention the number of players who played the best football of their lives as a result of Strong and his staff.
To Louisville fans, particularly those who pay close attention to the program, Charlie Strong is a phenomenal football coach and would be coveted by any university with a vacancy. However, the people who potentially would try to lure him away, have a different perspective.
The Florida head coaching gig is one of those small handful of jobs that nearly every coach in America would listen to if offered. Florida athletic director Jeremy Foley will have no shortage of candidates and many coaches who have good jobs would heavily consider the Gators. According to multiple reports, the consensus list of candidates include Dan Mullen (Mississippi St.) Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Bobby Petrino (Arkansas), Wil Muschamp (Texas DC), Gary Patterson (TCU), Chris Peterson (Boise St.), Jim Harbaugh (Stanford), Randy Edsall (UConn), and Charlie Strong.
As objectively as you can, look through that list and tell me where you would rank Charlie Strong.
Even though I truly believe Charlie Strong will be a very successful head coach, if I’m Jeremy Foley, as much admiration as I have for Charlie from the past, do I hire him before some of those other names who are sure to have interest?
Foley is one of the best athletic directors in the country. He very well could feel Charlie is the best candidate due to his recruiting ability and familiarity with the Florida program. However, I think when you take a step back and look at the pool of candidates Florida can hire, the chances of Charlie staying in Louisville are pretty good.
We will obviously continue to monitor this situation closely and provide any updates we can.
Update – UofL Director of Athletics Tom Jurich spoke about the situation and said this:
“He brings everything to a job from A to Z. I will do everything in my power to make sure he stays because he is a perfect fit for this city and this university.”