Charlie Strong poses with Tom Jurich, his current boss, and Seth Hancock (left), a close friend and advisor. (UofLCardGame photo)
So will Charlie Strong stay or go?
The name of the University of Louisville football coach keeps coming up with every potential SEC vacancy that comes up. Tennessee, Arkansas, Auburn. You name it and Strong has been rumored to have been on the short list.
Some reports indicate that Tennessee requested permission to talk with Strong so he’s apparently listening to someone in Knoxville. Whether he’s using this is as opportunity to amp up his salary at UofL remains to be seen. Jurich has said he will match any offer Strong gets, and the coach just might want to raise the ceiling.
The observer is confident that Seth Hancock, one of Strong’s closest friends and advisors, has received a call from the coach. The Lexington thoroughbred owner and University of Kentucky backer is also well connected in the Southeastern Conference. He was on hand for the press conference when Strong was named the UofL football in 2009.
While Jurich has been highly supportive publicly in wanting to keep Strong at UofL, there is some speculation that he wouldn’t be all that disappointed if the coach took advantage of an opportunity to coach in the SEC. While Louisville won 10 games this season against a soft schedule, the lack of overall improvement was questionable from the first game through the final one.
Charlie Strong has to be conflicted between coaching his first BCS game at Louisville or realizing a dream of becoming a head coach in the SEC.
If Strong were to leave, there’s another coach available with a history at Louisville and a successful track record in both the Big East and the SEC. Are you ready for this? None other than Bobby Petrino, the former UofL coach, always attuned to job openings.
While his parting from previous jobs has always been ugly, there are some who believe Petrino may be on Jurich’s list. Petrino is very much available, and he wins and wins big, he maintains tight control over athletes, and he’s never had problems with the NCAA. He still has strong ties to the community with his daughter Katie a member of the UofL golf team.
Petrino would be a controversial choice, for sure, raising eye brows at home and throughout the football nation, including UofL’s new partners in the Atlantic Coast Conference. But privately the ACC would probably approve, needing the ACC’s football product to improve. Any agreement with him would have to include a very high buyout provision for the coach.
Stranger things are happening in college football. Fans should have an answer pretty soon. There’s only so many coaching rumor denials one can make before deciding whether to call in the moving vans.