Pete Thamel from Sports Illustrated is reporting that Charlie Strong has turned down an offer from Tennessee to become the Vols’ next head football coach choosing instead to remain at Louisville.
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.
The Louisville extension ends Tennessee’s courtship of Strong, who had one brief meeting on Sunday with Tennessee chancellor Jimmy Cheek in Louisville. That was Strong’s only direct contact with another university.
“It was Charlie’s desire to end this constant speculation and re-commit long-term to Louisville,” said a source.
Louisville, which has 31 players on its roster from the state of Florida, plays Florida in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 2. Louisville went 10-2 this season and won a share of the Big East title with a victory over Rutgers last week to clinch a BCS berth.
While we have said from the beginning that Charlie Strong would be a great hire for one of the SEC programs with a vacancy at the head coach position, getting into a bidding war and paying Strong more than the vast majority of SEC coaches is another story.
If you’re willing to bid upwards of $4 million to hire Strong away from Louisville, isn’t hiring Bobby Petrino at $2 million considerably less risky? Louisville had a good year at 10-2, but they also didn’t play a single ranked team all season. Again, Strong is a good coach, but is he worth $3.5-$4 million?
We’ll see where the Vols turn next…