NEW YORK -- Louisville coach Charlie Strong has emerged as the top candidate in Tennessee’s search for a new head football coach, ESPN’s Chris Low reported this evening.
The search appeared to be focusing on Strong and Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy entering today’s wild stretch of coaching news.
One newspaper briefly reported that Gundy, who interviewed with Tennessee on Sunday, would be hired as the new coach at Arkansas. Instead, Arkansas later announced that it had hired Wisconsin coach Bret Bielema.
Tennessee Athletic Director Dave Hart, who is in New York for the Hall of Fame induction of former Vols coach Phillip Fulmer tonight, may have interviewed other candidates during his trip. Reports that North Carolina coach Larry Fedora interviewed today were disputed by a UNC source, according to The News & Observer.
ESPN’s report stressed that no contract had been finalized.
Strong has been under pressure at Louisville after reports of his discussions with Tennessee and Auburn surfaced. Asked if he would return to Louisville in 2013, Strong said, “I will say that at the right time."
Auburn hired Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn earlier today.
Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich has vowed to fight to keep Strong, who has a 24-14 record in three seasons.
Jurich said the university would make Strong the highest-paid coach in the nation.
"We'll make him No. 1 if we have to," Jurich said in October.
Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/Tennesseebeat.