I've been beating the Charlie Strong drum for a while now. Here's why:
Strong has coached 21 of his 30 years in the SEC. The vast majority of that time was spent as a defensive coordinator at South Carolina and Florida.
If knowing how to recruit and compete in the conference is important, Strong meets that requirement. If fixing Tennessee's awful defense is important, Strong meets that requirement as well.
He took over for Steve Kragthorpe at Louisville, who went 15-21 in his three mediocre years with the Cardinals. Don't put too much blame on Kragthorpe, though. He was hired very late in the offseason (January of 2007) after Bobby Petrino bailed in the middle of the night.
That sounds a little familiar.
Derek Dooley, whose 15-21 record at Tennessee is identical to Kragthorpe's, took over for Lane Kiffin very late in the offseason (January of 2010) after Kiffin bolted for USC in the dead of night.
It seems to me that Strong is quite comfortable operating under these circumstances.
Finally, Louisville, a basketball school that hadn't experienced serious winning in five years, has been turned into a 9-1 contender that has an excellent chance to make a BCS Bowl, never something to scoff at.
For those belittling Strong's accomplishments at Louisville because it's in the weak Big East, I simply respond by asking what conference Louisville is in. Is he not using Big East players to rule the Big East? Is it not logical that he could bring in SEC-caliber players at an SEC school like Tennessee?
That sentiment would have left Urban Meyer (Utah) out of Florida and Brian Kelly (Cincinnati) out of Notre Dame.