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If there’s one thing that Louisville coach Charlie Strong has achieved in his days as a Cardinal, it’s winning. Strong has taken the up and down football program in Louisville an made them serious contenders for bowl games and even the national championship. This exceptional performance led to interest from major programs around the country and surprisingly, Charlie passed on them all to stay red.
Loyalty does come at a price. The Cardinals recently decided to share $3.5 million per year with strong, giving him a salary that is competitive with many of the higher paid coaches across the country. ”I knew this would be a big opportunity,” Strong said during a press conference.“It was the best decision to stay here, continue to build a program and fulfill our dreams on the football field and in the classroom.”
Strong’s previous deal paid him $2.3 million, so he has received a hefty raise for a great season. Athletic director Tom Jurich says that even though the school was aware that Strong received an offer from Tennessee, Strong didn’t use that offer as leverage to get a new contract. But Jurich said that it was his goal to keep Strong for another eight years and also pay his assistant coaches more money.
Louisville is leaving the Big East for the increasingly competitive ACC, creating a new set of challenges for the school. This put the pressure on Jurich to keep Strong around for as long as he could.
Jurich says that the push to take care of Strong “says that we’re committed. But we’ve always been committed. Everybody always looks at us as a longshot, but we’re not an underdog. I’m probably biased, but I truly believe that as of 7:40 last Wednesday morning when (ACC President) John Swofford called, this is a top-10 job in the country in football.”
This has been a banner season for Louisville. Strong took the team to a 10 – 2 record, a share of the Big East title and a berth in the Sugar Bowl, where they play powerhouse Florida. This led to Strong being named Coach of the Year for the Big East. He is now considered one of the top coaches in the nation.