'STRONGHORN' NATION: Louisville, UT confirm Charlie Strong now head football coach at University of Texas
Tyler, Texas (FOX51) — After weeks of speculation, rumors and rejection, The University of Louisville has announced their football leader will be hired as head coach for the University of Texas.
Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich made the announcement concerning Charlie Strong at a Sunday morning press conference:
"I knew he was going to Texas," said Jurich. "I just wanted him to know how much I appreciated the job he did."
Strong and UT have agreed in principle to terms of a contract where Strong is expected to rack up around $5-million a year for five seasons, according to Sports Illustrated.
"I'm excited and my family is excited to have the chance to lead one of the premier football programs in the country," Strong said as Texas Athletic Director Steve Patterson announced the confirmed hire. "Texas is one of those places that is always on your radar and a program anyone would dream of being a part of because you have a chance to compete on a national level every year. It's special because it has such great history, pride, tradition and passion for football."
With the help of junior, star-quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Strong led the Cardinals to a 37-15 record and back-to-back bowl wins over The University of Florida and The University of Miami. Strong also served as the Florida Gators' defensive coordinator under current Ohio State coach, Urban Meyer, prior to his tenure at Louisville.
Strong and Jurich met for an hour to discuss Strong's plans Saturday night after Jurich returned to Kentucky from Colorado. The coaching search for Strong's replacement is expected to begin immediately.
"I certainly don't think he (Strong) went into this thinking he would be the head coach at Texas," said Jurich. "It evolved into that."
Strong, 53, started his football career as a four-year letterman at the University of Central Arkansas. In addition to coaching at Florida and Louisville, Strong has had stints at Texas A&M, as a graduate assistant, Southern Illinois, Ole Miss, Notre Dame and South Carolina.
"I told him (Strong) I gave him an A+++ for the way he changed the culture here (Louisville)," said Jurich. "I am not certain which Louisville assistants will go with him to Texas, but I expect a "majority of them" to be in Austin. I think Texas is getting a very fine football coach and I wish him nothing but the best. I will always consider him a close friend."
The decision to go with Strong comes after two of the reported top candidates for the Texas job, Baylor's Art Briles and UCLA's Jim Mora, publicly committed to their current coaching positions and added they were not interested in the Longhorns' coaching vacancy.
Former UT coach, Mack Brown, announced he was stepping down after 16 years on December 16, and immediately, the rumor mill sparked with alleged reports and a merry-go-round of information.
"To follow a future Hall of Fame coach like Mack Brown, who built a program that had great success and a reputation of doing it with class and integrity, is extra special," Strong said. "The National Championship, BCS Bowl wins and all he accomplished in 16 years built on the Longhorn legacy and makes it such an exciting place to be. Coach Brown developed such a strong bond with his players, the lettermen, community and high school coaches in this state, and that's something I hope to build on. He made everyone feel at home. I had the opportunity to speak at the High School Coaches Clinic in Austin a few years ago and Coach Brown introduced Coach (Darrell) Royal, and everyone gave him a standing ovation. Meeting Coach Royal and being around him that day is something I'll never forget."
Brown went out with a whimper as he coached his final game with the Longhorns in the Valero Alamo Bowl, December 30, in San Antonio in which the PAC-12 powerhouse Oregon Ducks rolled over Texas, 30-7.
What this means for the Cardinals
With Strong's departure, Jurich will begin the search for the fifth head football coach under his reign at Louisville, since he came to Kentucky from Colorado State in 1997. Jurich hired Strong to replace Steve Kragthorpe after he was fired due to three losing seasons. Jurich gave Strong his first head coaching job.
Strong is expected to be formally introduced by Texas during a Monday press conference and be the university's representative during ESPN's telecast of the BCS Championship Monday night from Pasadena, California, where the Auburn Tigers will take on the Florida State Seminoles.
Strong now becomes the 29th head coach in UT history.
"I am excited to have Charlie Strong here to build on the proud tradition of Texas football and the 16 great years that Mack Brown gave to the program," said Patterson. Our committee and former lettermen helped create an extensive selection criteria and after visiting with Charlie, it was clear he met them all. He led championship defenses as an assistant, a resurgence at the University of Louisville with double-digit game winning seasons, and twice been selected conference coach of the year. Most importantly, Charlie is a man of great integrity, with a wonderful family, who is well respected inside and outside the game. He is committed to the development of the total student-athlete both on and off the field. Charlie will represent the program and University extremely well. We look forward to a long and successful tenure for him here at Texas. I'd also like to thank President Bill Powers, our search committee, Jed Hughes and others who helped us select Coach Strong."
William Powers Jr., University of Texas President, also weighed in on the Horns' hire:
"This is a historic day for The University of Texas and a historic hire for our football team," said Powers. Charlie Strong is one of the best coaches in the country. I'm confident he will continue the Longhorns winning tradition while maintaining the integrity and commitment to students that have always defined our program. I'm thrilled by Athletics Director Steve Patterson's leadership in finding the right coach for Texas."
With the Longhorns' hiring of Strong, perhaps the two biggest names in the BIG XII, Texas and Oklahoma, will now both be coached by former Florida defensive coordinators. Bob Stoops was at Florida from 1996-1998, while Strong held the DC position in the "Sunshine State," from 2002-2009.