UF Finds New D.C.

John Thompson left Florida to take the head coaching position at ECU. In the next few days, Florida Head Coach Ron Zook will announce a former Gator as the next defensive coordinator for Florida.

According to my sources, South Carolina Defensive Coordinator Charlie Strong will be named Florida's new Defensive Coordinator within the next 48 hours. Strong, a former Gator coach, has been with Coach Lou Holtz at Notre Dame and South Carolina. Strong will replace John Thompson, who took the head coaching job at East Carolina.

Here is Strong's bio from South Carolina's SID web-site.

Charlie Strong
Defensive Coordinator

Hometown: Batesville, AR
High School: Batesville HS
College: Central Arkansas, 1982
Years in Coaching: 19

Charlie Strong continues to develop solid defenses at USC and under his leadership, the Gamecock defensive unit has become one of the most effective in the SEC. Last season, Carolina ranked third in the SEC in both scoring defense and total defense. In 2000, the Gamecocks ranked first in the SEC and sixth nationally in scoring defense and ranked near the top of the SEC in total defense, rush defense and pass defense. Strong's efforts in 2000 made him a finalist for the Broyles Award, which recognizes college football's top assistant. Strong begins his fourth season as USC's defensive coordinator and has orchestrated a transformation of the Carolina defense during his time with the program. In 1999, the Gamecock defense was vastly improved, as USC finished fifth in the SEC and 20th nationally in total defense, up from a 10th place ranking in the SEC in 1998. Couple that with the solid performance of the 2000 and 2001 defenses and it's clear that Coach Strong has played a key role in USC's turnaround. Strong, who worked with the defensive line for four seasons at Notre Dame prior to moving to Carolina, is recognized as one of the top defensive coaches in the country.

Prior to his stint with the Fighting Irish, Strong played an integral role in the success of the defenses at Florida, as he coached the defensive front for the Gators and served as Steve Spurrier's assistant head coach in 1994. While at Notre Dame, Strong tutored a number of linemen who earned all-star honors and were high draft picks by the National Football League. In 1996, the defensive front helped Notre Dame set a school record with 41.5 quarterback sacks on the year. During his four-year stay with Florida from 1991-94, the Gator defensive line emerged as one of the nation's best. Florida ranked fifth nationally in rushing defense in 1994; fifth nationally in that category in 1991; and ninth in 1993. The Gators led the Southeastern Conference in rushing defense in both 1991 and 1994. Strong helped Florida claim SEC championships in 1991, '93 and '94. Strong had previously served on the Florida staff, having worked as outside linebacker coach in 1988 and '89 and as a graduate assistant in 1983 and '84.

He has other coaching experience at Mississippi, Texas A&M, and Southern Illinois. During his coaching career, Strong has worked on staffs that have qualified for 13 postseason bowl games. A native of Batesville, Ark., Strong was a four-year football letterman at the University of Central Arkansas, where he was a three-time all-conference selection in football and a two-time honoree in track. Strong earned his Bachelor's degree from Central Arkansas in 1983. Strong later earned a Master's degree from Henderson State in 1983 and earned an Educational Specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Florida in 1985.

Strong and his wife, Victoria, have two daughters: Hailee (4) and Hope (2).

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