Charlie Strong spurns UT offer for new deal at Louisville

FILE - This Aug. 10, 2011 file photo shows Louisville football coach Charlie Strong gesturing as he speaks at a news conference in Louisville, Ky. A person familiar with the situation says that the Atlantic Coast Conference's presidents and chancellors have voted unanimously to add Louisville as the replacement for Maryland.  The person says ACC leaders also considered Connecticut and Cincinnati over the past week before choosing to add the Cardinals from the Big East.  The person spoke to The Associated Press Wednesday morning, Nov. 28, 2012 on condition of anonymity because the ACC has not publicly discussed future expansion plans. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke, File)

FILE - This Aug. 10, 2011 file photo shows Louisville football coach Charlie Strong gesturing as he speaks at a news conference in Louisville, Ky. A person familiar with the situation says that the Atlantic Coast Conference's presidents and chancellors have voted unanimously to add Louisville as the replacement for Maryland. The person says ACC leaders also considered Connecticut and Cincinnati over the past week before choosing to add the Cardinals from the Big East. The person spoke to The Associated Press Wednesday morning, Nov. 28, 2012 on condition of anonymity because the ACC has not publicly discussed future expansion plans. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke, File)

Louisville football coach Charlie Strong has spurned an offer to be the next coach at Tennessee, sending the Vols’ search in a new direction 18 days after it began.

Jason Higdon of Scout.com said Wednesday night he spoke to Strong “and as expected he has turned down Tennessee and decided it was best for he and his family at Louisville”.

SI.com, citing an unnamed source, reported that Strong agreed to a new contract that would put him among the “top echelon” of coaches in the Atlantic Coast Conference, where the Cardinals will move in 2014.

“It was Charlie’s desire to end this constant speculation and re-commit long-term to Louisville,” the source told SI.com.

The report capped another wild day of speculation, rumors and reports as Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart waited for Strong to make his decision.

Hart returned to Knoxville on Wednesday afternoon in a private jet registered to the Pilot corporation, according to Volquest.com, whose reporters saw the plane at the airport. The jet’s tail number is blocked from plane-tracking websites.

Hart’s next move is unclear.

With Wednesday’s news, UT appears to have missed on its top targets — Strong and Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy.

Multiple reports earlier in the day said that Gundy had decided to stay at his alma mater, although neither Gundy nor the school has made any public comment to that effect. Gundy made $3.275 million this season and is under contract through 2019.

Hart was scheduled to meet with North Carolina coach Larry Fedora this week in New York, where both men were attending the National Football Foundation awards ceremony, according to reports from Volquest and others. It could not be confirmed that the meeting actually took place.

North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham released a lengthy written statement Wednesday that said, as a matter of policy, he does not comment about reports linking his coaches to other jobs.

“This time each year there are a number of coaching vacancies in college football and yesterday several rumors included speculation about our own football coach Larry Fedora,” said Cunningham. “Neither Coach Fedora nor I are going to address rumors about individual jobs that are bound to happen each year.

“It’s been my policy since I have been a director of athletics not to comment or engage in discussions regarding a coach’s job until such time that there is a change in a coach’s employment status. Speculation about the future employment status of a head coach can be detrimental to an athletic program.”

Fedora also had no comment, although a prospect, Jordan Fieulleteau, told Scout.com that he called the coach to ask him about the rumors.

“He’s a man of his word,” Fieulleteau told the website. “You can’t just talk to a kid ... and then go back on your word. I’m 100 percent confident that he’ll stay at UNC.”

Strong, 52, is a native of Arkansas who had stints as a defensive coordinator at Florida and South Carolina before getting his first head coaching job at Louisville. The Cardinals (10-2) will play Florida in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2.

Strong met with players at the Cardinals’ football facility on Wednesday, but didn’t answer questions, according to multiple reports from Louisville media.

Players were directed not to speak about the meeting, but multiple reporters tweeted that Strong told players he had not made a decision about his future. Eric Crawford, a reporter for WDRB in Louisville, said Strong told players he would meet with them before the talking to the media this morning.

Louisville center and Rimington Award finalist Mario Benavides tweeted after the meeting: “All I’m gonna say is I’m not worried about my coach..we are a family.”

Previous coaches, like John L. Smith and Bobby Petrino, had used Louisville as a stepping-stone job, but Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich said as early as October that the school was willing to make a large financial commitment to Strong if he would remain with the Cardinals.

“The ultimate decision will come down to does he want to be in Louisville or not?” Jurich told TV station WHAS. “Economically, fiscally, we can match anything anybody wants to do.”

Strong earned $2.3 million plus bonuses in 2012. Strong’s buyout, which is on a sliding scale, is reportedly in the neighborhood of $2 million.

Tennessee is seeking a replacement for Derek Dooley, who was fired Nov. 18 after three losing seasons.

Hart said in his press conference that day that he was seeking a proven head coach, which appeared to rule out candidates like Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart, who recently interviewed for the Auburn job.

Another potential target, Cincinnati coach Butch Jones, strongly denied a Denver Post report late Wednesday that he had been hired by Colorado.

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Get up-to-the-second coaching search updates at www.Twitter.com/TennesseeBeat.

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Comments » 404

Volunatic writes:

Tennessee still won't have a hard time getting a better coach than Dooley was.

capnjerry (Inactive) writes:

As it should be... Stand by for some GREAT news!!!

VolBallCharlie writes:

Does Hart not realize the importance & urgency of this hire, or is he purposely sabotaging these deals? All I know is there is DEFINITELY SOMETHING WRONG ON MY BELOVED ROCKY TOP!!! Whats next... Randy Sanders turns UT down for more time ANYWHERE ELSE!!!

guitarch882000#661629 writes:

Hart....please don't take any advice from the "expert fans" here....Our "fan base" of couch coaches.....along with an over critical ,over analyzing local sports media...is 99.9%...of the problem here.....and has made this place an unattractive coaching destination for anyone.......Win championships every other year or your fired.....yeah....every coach wants that hanging over their head.....Outside coaches have to see Fulmer's record and say to themselves...."Wow...if they can fire a guy with that kind of record....do I really want to go there?".

keepitreal4vols writes:

News release ready to go:
Dave Hart hired ________, the 1st choice and a quality, well respected coach among peers. When Dave Hart looked at all the candidates, _________ name kept rising to the top and UT feels extremely fortunate to land such a brilliant football minded coach. Please give ________a warm welcome to the UT family.

bigvol980#528379 writes:

in response to guitarch882000#661629:

Hart....please don't take any advice from the "expert fans" here....Our "fan base" of couch coaches.....along with an over critical ,over analyzing local sports media...is 99.9%...of the problem here.....and has made this place an unattractive coaching destination for anyone.......Win championships every other year or your fired.....yeah....every coach wants that hanging over their head.....Outside coaches have to see Fulmer's record and say to themselves...."Wow...if they can fire a guy with that kind of record....do I really want to go there?".

I'll give you that mistakes have been made, but Fulmer needed to go. It had been ten years since winning the national championship and he had become extremely complacent. He was happy to have "won more than we lost." Recruiting had gone to pot. Was the right replacement hired or the one after that? NO, but we don't need to start dreaming of the good old days of 7-4 or 6-5. Fulmer wasn't the answer either.

philgreen5#410561 writes:

Does anybody want to coach the Vols! Have we sunk so far that a football coach at a basketball school turns down UT.

varnellvol writes:

Well, what now boys? Karma, I say, karma...what goes around...hire CPF back. It was crazy to ever let him go in the first place.

Steve_2 writes:

Hey Hart. Get your guy. Be patient Vol fans.

orangevagabond writes:

The basketball team can't score a point. Now this. UT's equivalent of a fiscal cliff. Maybe in my next life UT will be back. ROCKY BOTTOM.

pcshowtime writes:

This hire is so much like when saban was hired at bama. Rich rodriguez said yes and then says no to the bama AD Mal More. Then the boosters step in and give Saban the keys to the kingdom complete control 32 guaranteed for over 8 years. He had told alabama no so many times.
look at the video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCWGGx...
Maybe go back and offer gruden the keys to the kingdom and let it rip 5 mil a year 5 mil for the staff and complete control. What do we have to lose.

BackAShoneysnFleas writes:

I think Hart is deliberately trying to foul this up, because he's an Alabama mole. Alabama is extremely worried about the Tennessee program getting back to the top echelon of the SEC, so somehow the boosters at Alabama were able to convince Tennessee to hire the super-sneaky Hart, and in this way, ensure that Tennessee's program continues to suffer in mediocrity. As for Cheek, he's nothing but a Florida mole - he is also doing all he can to make sure Tennessee's program stays near the bottom of the conference. Cheek is the one that actually met with Strong, so he must have botched the hire on purpose.

There are people in this fan base actually stupid enough to believe this sort of drivel. Conspiracy, my ---! Anyone crazy enough to believe the top programs in the SEC are conspiring to keep us down has to be under the influence of mind-altering drugs.

We are making ourselves look like fools. Let Hart do his job. We'll get a decent coach. This is only sports - it's not that important in the overall scheme of life.

Wow - that is all I can say.

Glentenn writes:

Well, we gave it our best. Time to move on. Looking increasingly like we won't get that "proven winner".

How about giving Bud Foster of Va Tech a shot? He's been putting together top 10 defenses for 15 years. Mix that with Chaney's offense and we've got a nice formula.

vol98champ writes:

I'm afraid the decision makers at UT don't have the guts to do what Bamma did. I keep thinking that it can't get any worse, but so far it has. Can't even watch ESPN 3 for more than 1 or 2 minutes at a time.

NeilwzRight writes:

I just hope Dave is on his way to Yuba City

edmcc#409668 writes:

if Charlie Strongs does not see the future at UT and wants to keep playing at Papa John's, let him stay in Louisville. We do not want him.

bob.bigorange#605842 writes:

what is going on up there? we get played by a 3rd yr HC who has done an admirable job in Big East. we let him take the offer and screw around with it for a couple days so UL's attys can rehash his contract and raise his salary. we have been played again.

rockypop writes:

Why in the name of Gen. Neyland would Charlie Strong leave Louisville for UT?
• He has an adoring fan base
• The expectations at UofL are realistic
• Louisville is joining the ACC where they can actually qualify for the NC when the "Final Four" format kicks in
• He has shown he can win in the Big East and will win in the ACC
• His already great recruiting will now have an additional sweetner with ACC membership
• He and his family love Louisville, and the icing...
• His AD made it clear that he was prepared to make him the highest paid coach in college football if that's what it took to keep him

Apparently, Charlie reportedly did what any sensible coach would do in these circumstances and talked to Tennessee, setting off a bidding war, which jacked up his compensation and added icing to an already delicious cake.

While I'm both a UT and UofL fan, my allegiance lies with UT
as I grew up 15 minutes from Neyland Stadium. Still, as a college football fan, I applaud Strong for his reported decision to stay at UofL, if that is, in fact, what he ultimately does. Louisville has too long been a stepping stone for quality coaches, and it's refreshing to see someone hopefully put an end to that trend and elect to build a program, rather that choose to be a caretaker for Gen. Neyland's legacy.

Caneoverthere writes:

in response to civilianvol_formerly_marinevol:

PETRINO.

LOL - I believe it was JR on the Dallas series that said "Once you get past integrity, the rest is a piece of cake".

VolzsFan writes:

in response to bigvol980#528379:

I'll give you that mistakes have been made, but Fulmer needed to go. It had been ten years since winning the national championship and he had become extremely complacent. He was happy to have "won more than we lost." Recruiting had gone to pot. Was the right replacement hired or the one after that? NO, but we don't need to start dreaming of the good old days of 7-4 or 6-5. Fulmer wasn't the answer either.

It is idiots like this guy that seriously makes UT a national laughingstock. A legend, a Hall of Fame unanimous first ballot coach, the greatest run in school history, top 5 all time in the SEC, respected by his peers and voted as CFA President....and you treat him like trash.

He needed to go.....
and take his 10 wins on average with him.
All the future NFL Hall of Famers will not be coming here.
All those SEC Title games with him.
The only legit National Title in school history with him.

Dude, coaches look at what a school does. Several have said to Jimmy (that is agent Sexton to you knuckleheads) that if Phil could not make UT happy than no one can. No one wants to go to a mediocre program with fantasyland expectations that treated one of their own they way they treated Phil.

Pay attention. This is and will always be going forward a place for those that need a job (KIffin) or need a break (Dooley). That simple. The best hire in America would have been James Franklin. Instead it will be a guy that needs a job (Davis) or a break (Fadora).

That is so funny and pathetically ignorant to say it was time for him to go. I guess all that winning and all LOL!!!!!!!

Hey, are you enjoying your change yet??? LOL!!!!!

pcshowtime writes:

If this florida SOB does not want to be here then F him. Pardon my language fellow vols fans F this guy.
Demand better vol nation they want to tell us to except this cr#p. This is part of the problem I complacency. If they the University does not give us better make them tear down the top deck of that stadium and seat 40'000 and become vandy.
I did not like the hire anyway go after Larry Fedora more head coaching Exp. anyway. screw charlie strong we deserve better. I have had some home brew sorry again for the lauguage.

P.S. and conzo ball sucks too

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

Get Butch Jones before he signs with Colorado.

jimmyrayvol writes:

I live in Greenville SC. and this was talked about at 9 AM this morning. This site flat out sucks. I'm done with KNS and I'm through checking the web everytime I have a chance. If another sh12 bag is hired this time.... I'm hang'n it up. I've been a fan since I was 15 and as of yesterday I'm now 38. This is not what a teenage Greenville banwagoner fell in love with. I love my beloved Vols but this is where I have to step back and support from a distance.

manniesghost1903 writes:

I hope this search results in a positive turn for UT but if things do not work out there is one move that must be made regardless. Every administrator, board member, and booster who was responsible or played a role in the manner in which Phil Fulmer was terminated as head coach must be exiled from the UT Athletic program. I am not advocating for Phil Fulmer to return as head coach but I believe the methods used in his "firing" gave UT a black eye among a large and significant number of members of the coaching profession. In a sense a "Fulmer curse" was created and until those people who are viewed as villians by the Coaching Profession are "exorcised" from UT Athletic Department I believe things will get worse. (Anyone know a good priest?)

TKO writes:

Petrino or Mora.....

RockyBears2009 writes:

FEDORA-
make the call. sign the deal.

BIVOLAR_BEARE writes:

in response to GlennFordsFoible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

This isn't helping..NSTHU!

CommodoreCapital writes:

Apparently UT fans are the only ones that think University of Tennessee is still a Top 25 job.

orangepowerT writes:

in response to Volunatic:

Tennessee still won't have a hard time getting a better coach than Dooley was.

And everyone wants to know why a football coach can not be payed to come to Tennessee. Your words tell it all.......... Tennessee still won't have a hard time getting a better coach than Dooley was, you said. All the negative talk and name calling toward coach Dooley over the past few months would turn any coach away regardless of the money that is offered.

movol53 writes:

We need David Shaw from Stanford!!!!!

golfman1975 writes:

Here is my shocked face....

(
<
--

TaylorJH writes:

I was hopeful that Strong would be the hire. Now that it appears that Strong and Grundy are out, where does UT go from here? This rejection has got me so low.........

vols48 writes:

So many rumors and no real evidence of anything.If you truly want to turn the Football program around,Bring out the big checkbook.Not looking forward to another 5 win season.

david_light_38230#225602 writes:

Ok, Strong has turned down the UT offer . . . now it's time to get a GREAT coach . . . who that is I don't know, only Hart knows the "list". I know that this hire is probably the most important one in Hart's career; in fact it may decide the end of Hart's career.

Let's look at who is left:

Fedora - UNC HC
Smart - UofA DC
Gundy - Oak State HC - (I hope NOT)
Mullen - MSU HC

Add to the list . . . sound off on who I've placed on the list . . . might as well have fun with it, waiting on a "official announcement" from UTAD isn't coming any time soon!!

GO VOLS!!!

TheEffect writes:

in response to philgreen5#410561:

Does anybody want to coach the Vols! Have we sunk so far that a football coach at a basketball school turns down UT.

Yes.

eb502us#225637 writes:

Glad he stayed at Louisville - he's still unproven as a head coach and not worth the money being offered. Plus I'm not sure I could stomach his listening to him speak.

jarvol writes:

What an absolute clusterfukk. Cheek and Hart make an invisbile man and Hambone look halfway competent.

Supersayin1 writes:

Uggg!!

jtdavis#215752 writes:

Looks like Auburn and Arkansas can hire a coach and Hart cant. Maybe we need a new AD as well.

Thermopyle writes:

With a name like Fedora, he should be coaching at Stetson.

But I agree that something seems to be very wrong in the UT power structure that would cause promising or proven coaches to turn down lucrative offers from a school that has among the finest facilities in all of college sports. Something doesn't add up.

Perhaps KNS can run a special poll of all the coaches who turned down an opportunity to coach at UT and determine statistically the prevailing reason why no top-tier coaches want to come to UT.

SandySpringsVol writes:

in response to GlennFordsFoible:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Guess what? Nobody gives a rat's behind what you think. So if you've got nothing positive to contribute -- and it would be a shock if you did -- STFU and step off.

TKO writes:

I had simply hoped that ground work would have been done before dooley was fired.

bigvol980#528379 writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

It is idiots like this guy that seriously makes UT a national laughingstock. A legend, a Hall of Fame unanimous first ballot coach, the greatest run in school history, top 5 all time in the SEC, respected by his peers and voted as CFA President....and you treat him like trash.

He needed to go.....
and take his 10 wins on average with him.
All the future NFL Hall of Famers will not be coming here.
All those SEC Title games with him.
The only legit National Title in school history with him.

Dude, coaches look at what a school does. Several have said to Jimmy (that is agent Sexton to you knuckleheads) that if Phil could not make UT happy than no one can. No one wants to go to a mediocre program with fantasyland expectations that treated one of their own they way they treated Phil.

Pay attention. This is and will always be going forward a place for those that need a job (KIffin) or need a break (Dooley). That simple. The best hire in America would have been James Franklin. Instead it will be a guy that needs a job (Davis) or a break (Fadora).

That is so funny and pathetically ignorant to say it was time for him to go. I guess all that winning and all LOL!!!!!!!

Hey, are you enjoying your change yet??? LOL!!!!!

I have no problem with Fulmer until 3 or 4 yrs before he left. You apparently have no problem with mediocrity.

proudveteran writes:

To all the commenters, DO NOT BLAME AD HART on the rejection by Strong of UT. Sports Illustrated reported late this afternoon in an article by Pete Tramel, third paragraph, that the only contact with UT was made Sunday morning in Louisville by UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek!!!!!! Why is Cheek involved in the first place as that is the job of AD Hart!!!!! Cheek is an absolute loser. Come on commenters, junk on this and demand to know why Cheek was involved period.

licknpromise777#651578 writes:

Pretty much what you would expect going after coaches entrenched in plum jobs..Paying Strong anywhere near 4 million is insanity!!we will see how great a coach and recruiter Strong is when the Gators pound them in New Orleans!!Neither Strong or his players can compete in the big boy SEC.It's high time for Hart to look toward the pool of excellent coaches and assistants in the NFL..You can put Greg Roman at the top of that list. Penn state tapped the NFL for OBrien and the guy worked miracles..Next Hart will go after Fedora; another coach in a plum job poised for a raise and extension at our expense

MikeNPS writes:

Too bad Strong does not think he is good enough to compete in a REAL conference.

TNPilgrim writes:

The fact that ANY coach would consider he Louisville job better than UT is an embarrassment and a disgrace to every UT fan and alumnus. That Strong would spurn UT to stay at a 3d tier football school like Louisville - especially in light of the last two failures UT has hired as football coaches should tell everyone that something's wrong at the top of UT administration. Just the fact that every ugly detail of their search is so public is telling about their incompetence. KY, Auburn, Arkansas have already completed their hiring processes without the soap opera and disgraceful publicity. If UT has to resort to re-hiring a reject like Fulmer they'll be regarded as a bottom-of-the-barrell program, and rightly so.

bigdisbig writes:

Evidently Strong felt he couldn't survive in the mighty SEC. Its his loss at this point. He will be eaten alive in the ACC next year.

I just hope Hart doesn't stoop so low and offer Franklin at Vandy. To be turned down by a Vandy coach would be the ultimate low.

There are plenty of other opportunities but it may take time people. The last time Tennessee got in a hurry to hire a coach we wound up with Dooley.

AZ_Vol writes:

in response to VolzsFan:

It is idiots like this guy that seriously makes UT a national laughingstock. A legend, a Hall of Fame unanimous first ballot coach, the greatest run in school history, top 5 all time in the SEC, respected by his peers and voted as CFA President....and you treat him like trash.

He needed to go.....
and take his 10 wins on average with him.
All the future NFL Hall of Famers will not be coming here.
All those SEC Title games with him.
The only legit National Title in school history with him.

Dude, coaches look at what a school does. Several have said to Jimmy (that is agent Sexton to you knuckleheads) that if Phil could not make UT happy than no one can. No one wants to go to a mediocre program with fantasyland expectations that treated one of their own they way they treated Phil.

Pay attention. This is and will always be going forward a place for those that need a job (KIffin) or need a break (Dooley). That simple. The best hire in America would have been James Franklin. Instead it will be a guy that needs a job (Davis) or a break (Fadora).

That is so funny and pathetically ignorant to say it was time for him to go. I guess all that winning and all LOL!!!!!!!

Hey, are you enjoying your change yet??? LOL!!!!!

Look, we get it. You love Fulmer.

I thought his record in bowl games sucked. I got tired of losing to those one or two teams a year that defined our season as a failure because Fulmer's teams couldn't get it done, and then flopping in a bowl game that ruined my holiday season. What I hated, was watching the man you love wink as news of Tennessee was more about crime than sports.

Fulmer had all the talent in the world, AND the best damned quarterback of a generation and couldn't beat Florida.

But what irked me the most? "You can't spell "citrus" without U T." Last I looked, the man that said that comment was still coaching. Your guy isn't. There's a damn good reason for that.

You can call other people idiots all you like. But there's something to be said for people who keep missing the logic of why Fulmer was done.

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