Strong Remains Loyal to Louisville; Says Job Isn’t Finished

Press Conference Audio from CardsTV: Head Coach Charlie Strong

Louisville head coach Charlie Strong met with reporters on Thursday morning at the Howard Schnellenberger Football Complex to announce that he had turned down an offer from Tennessee and will stay with the Cardinals.

“This was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make in my 29 years of coaching,” Strong told reporters. “I thought back to the first hours I talked to Tom Jurich. I remembered how he trusted me and how he was committed to leading the Cardinals back to a conference title, a BCS bid and hopefully, one day, a national title. He gave me my first chance to be a head football coach after being an assistant for 27 years. His unwavering loyalty in me and my vision has always been there. We haven’t finished the job yet. My enthusiasm and heart are with the University of Louisville.”

The 18th-ranked Cardinals (10-2) won a share of their second straight BIG EAST Conference championship and a BCS berth in the 79th Allstate Sugar Bowl, where they’ll face No. 3 Florida (11-1) on Jan. 2 in New Orleans. Though coaching Tennessee would have allowed Strong become a head coach in the Southeastern Conference, he decided to stay at the school that gave him his first head coaching job. Strong is 24-14 in three seasons with the Cardinals.

“I’ve been to the SEC and I’ve had a chance to go win two national championships,” said Strong. “You look at those jobs and there are some really good jobs out there, but I have a great job here. I have a great person that I work for.”

Other Selected Quotes from Coach Charlie Strong:

“When you get into a decision like this, it goes back to relationships. I think about Tom (Jurich). We were 2-4 (in 2011) at the time and I was 9-10 at the time and the guy hands me a contract extension. It’s about relationships and it’s about people believing and trusting in you. How do you walk away from someone who really trusts and believes in you?”

“I had a team meeting yesterday with our players and I’ll tell you exactly what I said to them. I said ‘this has been a very tough decision.’ I said ‘all of you guys are going to grow up to be successful young men and at some point in your life, you’ll have a job where you’re going to have to make a decision on whether you want to stay where you are or try to go better yourself.’ But I said ‘just trust me. We’ve been through a lot of wins and losses together. We’ve trusted one another and we’ve built a lot, so trust me that I’m going to make the right decision for you and for this program.'”

“It’s about being loyal. It’s about when you make a statement and who you really are — your character and your integrity. When you make those statements, you have to be true to those statements.”

“I don’t think I’ve put my career on the line at all by choosing Louisville over Tennessee. In this program, we can continue to grow. We can continue to get better. We can do a better job of recruiting. Now, we have a chance to go into the ACC. People expect you to walk out when someone else comes calling. I guarantee you, probably 80 percent of the community thought we were walking out of here because of what’s happened in the past. I want the community to understand that we have an outstanding program here. We’ve only just scratched the surface. This program can really take off and be something special.”

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