(Photo – USA Today)
Just like the previous two seasons, you better get used to seeing Charlie Strong’s name tossed around whenever there’s an opening at a powerhouse football school. The latest speculation comes via USA Today in which they examine the top-5 candidates for the newly-vacant Texas job, which is perhaps the very best in all of college football. Before the Longhorns’ head man, Mack Brown, officially stepped down this weekend, there was rampant speculation that Alabama’s Nick Saban was the University’s only target. Saban squashed those rumors on Saturday and signed a new extension with the Crimson Tide that will pay him a base salary of over $7 million a year.
Strong has back-to-back 11-win seasons and has done an incredible job resurrecting the Louisville program after it was left in ruins by Steve Kragthorpe. Strong rejected an opportunity to take the Tennessee job in 2012, but if he’s truly a prime candidate for the Texas job, will he be able to say no again? The school can pay their next coach whatever they want, have a vast alumni base with unlimited funding, state-0f-the-art facilities, a rabid fan base and their own television network. The drama of always having your coach mentioned for every job opening in the country becomes old after a while, but I suppose the alternative would be a lot worse. If you’re wanted (and Strong is most certainly wanted), it means you must be winning and winning big.
5. Charlie Strong, Louisville. Strong is another accomplished coach with a sizable buyout: UT would owe Louisville $5 million if it hired Strong in 2013 – and $4.375 million if the school waited until 2014, in case you were wondering. Beyond the money, Texas would also have to convince Strong to leave a very comfortable and successful position at Louisville, which leaves the American Athletic Conference to join the ACC after this season. But what makes Strong an appealing candidate? He has big-school experience – as at Florida, where he helped win a pair of national titles. He has 11 wins in each of the last two seasons at Louisville, including a Sugar Bowl win against the Gators last January. Strong would have an enormous impact on the Longhorns’ defensive production, obviously. UT would want to hear his thoughts on an offensive staff before advancing past a preliminary stage, but Strong is a logical second-tier candidate for the opening.