Charlie Strong Reportedly Rejects Tennessee, Will Sign Extension with Louisville
Louisville football head coach Charlie Strong has opted not to follow the crowd. He has reportedly decided to pass up on a head coaching offer from Tennessee and will remain with Louisville.
Sports Illustrated’s Pete Thamel reported the following on Strong’s decision:
Strong received a contract offer from Tennessee on Wednesday, but declined it after pondering the decision for a few hours.
Louisville and Strong are finalizing a long-term extension that could be announced as early as Thursday. It's expected to be a significant commitment in both years and dollars and will reportedly put Strong in the top echelon of coaches in the ACC.
UPDATE: Thursday, Dec. 6 at 1:30 p.m. ET by Adam Wells
Strong's new deal with Louisville will be for eight years through 2020, according to Brett McMurphy of ESPN.
"It became clear to me that it was best to stay in Louisville," Strong said at a news conference at the stadium on Thursday morning. "We haven't finished the job yet."
Tennessee just isn't an attractive job anymore. The program doesn't have any stability, nor is there a strong winning culture around it.
Strong was smart to stay with Louisville, where he doesn't have to deal with the pressure of the SEC media and has much more long-term job security after leading the Cardinals to the Sugar Bowl in 2012.
---END OF UPDATE---
Tennessee fired head coach Derek Dooley on November 18 after being blown out 41-18 against Vanderbilt. The loss dropped the team to 4-7 on the season, removing any hope of bowl eligibility.
Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney coached the Volunteers to a victory against Kentucky in the final game of the season, and the 37-17 result was the only win against an SEC opponent the team recorded this year.
Both Auburn and Arkansas also had dismal seasons that led to head coaching vacancies as well, but both were able to make new hires on Tuesday. Wisconsin’s Bret Bielema will be taking over for the Razorbacks, as ESPN reported. Meanwhile, Arkansas State’s Gus Malzahn will return to the Tigers, where he was an offensive coordinator as recently as 2011, also per ESPN.
Tennessee, however, is still looking for a head coach and has also reportedly been turned down by Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, according to CBS Sports’ Bruce Feldman.
SEC jobs are highly sought after, but the Volunteers have only struck out while trying to replace Dooley. Former NFL head coach Jon Gruden was reportedly their first choice, but he too opted against the move to Knoxville.
The vacancy likely will not remain open much longer, but the coaching search has been a much bumpier road than anticipated for the Tennessee football program.
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