Louisville Should Offer Charlie Strong Their Head Coaching Job Now!

Gerald BallCorrespondent IDecember 5, 2009

CINCINNATI - OCTOBER 24:  Will Stein #2 of the Louisville Cardinals runs with the ball during the Big East Conference game against the Cincinnati Bearcats at Nippert Stadium on October 24, 2009 in Cincinnati, Ohio.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

There are more qualified candidates for the Louisville job. Skip Holtz of East Carolina, Jim Grobe of Wake Forest, Gary Patterson of TCU, Butch Jones of Central Michigan, Tommy Tuberville of Auburn and Ole Miss and Chris Peterson of Boise State would be example of those, and I would imagine that all such guys would take the job if offered. (Louisville should stay far, far away from Philip Fulmer, who by his own admission quit on his last job after winning a national title.)

But I cannot think of a better fit for the Louisville job than Charlie Strong and here is why.

1. Strong would be a defense guy in a conference that otherwise leans heavily towards offense. Emphasizing that side of the ball in a Big East that is so overtly tilted towards the other would make Louisville distinct and give them a real shot on the field and in recruiting.

2. Speaking of recruiting, Strong excels in that area. Louisville is a "tweener", between the Midwest, East, and Southeast. Strong has recruited the East and Midwest in his time at Notre Dame and the East and Southeast in his time at South Carolina and Florida. Steve Kragthorpe's failure to recruit the South is mentioned as a key component in his failure   and specifically in the rising fortunes of Kentucky's program while Louisville's has been declining. Strong would certainly be able to deliver in that area.

3. Strong is similar to coaches who were very instrumental in building the Louisville program. Like Howard Schellenberger, who is the guy who set Louisville up for long term success, Strong comes from Florida. And like Bobby Petrino, who succeeded where Ron Cooper and John L. Smith failed in taking the program to the next level after Schnellenberger left, Strong is an SEC coordinator.

4. Lest anyone wish to try to assert superficial comparisons between Ron Cooper and Charlie Strong, let us recall that A) Cooper actually did a good job recruiting at Louisville and produced good defenses, his problems were on offense. So while the Cooper era did not work out, Louisville still benefitted from his tenure, as John L. Smith's early success came with Cooper's players.

Also, Strong is much more experienced and proven than Cooper, who was only a 29 year old position coach when Louisville hired him (where Strong is a longtime coordinator and assistant head coach).

5. While hiring a mid-major coach may be tempting, the fact is that Louisville is not in the same situation that they were when they hired John L. Smith. Louisville is in a BCS conference and furthermore, one that is fighting for credibility nationally as evidenced by Cincinnati being behind TCU and Boise State in the polls. Several one loss Big East teams have failed to get into the national title game this decade. Yet, Louisville IS NOT a major program in terms of budget, facilities, exposure, or tradition.

So, hiring a mid-major coach would be little more than what is essentially a mid-major program hiring one of their own, a lateral move. It would be more like going from UTEP to TCU than going from TCU to Texas. As a matter of fact, I really don't see how hiring a mid-major coach gives Louisville an advantage over Cincinnati, against whom Louisville should theoretically compete against for recruits.

Instead, hiring a guy from a major program, indeed one of the top five athletic programs in the nation, would give Louisville the "we are one of the big boys now" credibility that practically no other hire that is attainable for Louisville is going to do. It is the next best thing to hiring a coach from a big time Big 10, Big 12 or SEC school.

6. Ignore the idea that at 48, Strong is too old and Louisville needs a young, energetic coach to rebuild. Louisville really is still the program that had winning seasons under John L. Smith and Bobby Petrino who just had a setback. Strong could have this program contending for Big East titles again within three years, at the ripe old age of 50, and still have 15 good years left in his coaching career.

7. Louisville is more likely to hold onto Strong. Face it, hire a younger guy and you are molding him for a bigger school or the NFL, but if Strong wanted to go to the NFL, he would have left for their affirmative action program for black coaches a long time ago, and ironically would likely be an NFL head coach by now.

Strong's age is precisely what would make him less attractive to other colleges. Strong would also reward the college who gave him a shot when no one else did with loyalty. So, the only place that Strong would probably leave Louisville for would be Florida.

8. This is a not insignificant one; Hiring Strong weakens Florida, which weakens the SEC. While Urban Meyer's spread-option offense has been getting all the publicity, Charlie Strong's defense has been doing the dirty work. It was the defense that kept Meyer from going through what Rich Rodriguez is experiencing at Michigan right now, particularly that first year when Meyer went 9-3 and nearly won the SEC East.

The defense largely won Florida their first title and also shut down Oklahoma last year when OU shocked Florida by holding them to 14 points and of course, the defense is carrying the team this year.

So if Florida is knocked down a peg, the stranglehold that the SEC has on the BCS title game would weaken greatly. That would open things up for other teams, including the Big East, which includes LOUISVILLE and don't shed tears for the SEC, who would do the same to any other school or league in a heartbeat. As a matter of fact, the current SEC head coaches came from places like Iowa State, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Louisville, Utah, and FSU.

SEC teams even rip off each other. Auburn hired Tommy Tuberville from Ole Miss, and Ole Miss hired Houston Nutt from Arkansas. So, if the Big East wants to be the best, they are going to have to beat the best at their own game, which means hiring the top coaching candidates available.

The top assistant coach in college football is clearly Charlie Strong, so he should be Louisville's next head coach. Get it done, Jurich!