Hurtt's decision big for Strong's program

After Charlie Strong said that Clint Hurtt's decision to remain at Louisville after interviewing for a coaching position at BCS champion Auburn spoke "volumes [about] where our program is headed," Louisville's 'ace' recruiter spoke with about his decision.

Charlie Strong said Thursday that Clint Hurtt's decision to remain at Louisville after interviewing for a coaching position at BCS champion Auburn spoke "volumes [about] where our program is headed."

Strong also called his coaching staff "special," but it was his final statement that should have Louisville fans most excited:

"We will not be a training ground for coaches," Strong tweeted Thursday evening. "It's my job to keep this coaching [staff] intact and with our tremendous athletic dir[ector] I am confident I can do it."

That's music to the ears of Cardinal fans who have witnessed coaches, and entire coaching staffs, rotate through the UofL football complex the past few decades.

So what has changed now? Why did Hurtt, ESPN's National Recruiter of the Year, say no to Auburn to remain at Louisville?

Charlie Strong was a major reason Clint Hurtt is staying put at UofL.
"The biggest thing that we considered was whether the potential opportunity for career advancement was that much better at Auburn than it is at Louisville," Hurtt told "From the outside looking in some people may say [Auburn] is better because it's an SEC program and they just won the national title. We wanted to see everything for what it was worth…and long story short we came back and our hearts were here. This is where we were happy and where we felt comfortable. I couldn't say that Auburn had that much more to offer than what is already in place here."

Hurtt and his wife flew to Auburn Wednesday, where he interviewed with Tiger head coach Gene Chizik. Auburn, no doubt, made a strong case for his services. But instead of packing his bags for Alabama, Hurtt decided to stick with Strong, who guided Louisville to a 7-6 record and a win over Southern Miss in the Beef O'Brady's bowl in his first season.

"I have the utmost respect and trust for Coach Strong and we have an unbelievable staff here," Hurtt said. "I'm very excited about the future here at Louisville. Obviously Charlie Strong has the program going in the right direction and I'm a true believer [in him]."

Hurtt, a former player and coach at Miami, was a major reason why Louisville made a national recruiting splash this year. Hurtt helped land several players from south Florida, including U.S. Army All-Americans Teddy Bridgewater and Gerod Holliman, and Under All-American Eli Rogers. Hurtt said those players, plus the ones returning next year, made it impossible to leave UofL.

"The kids that are already here apart of the program and the ones we recruited already feel like family," Hurtt said. "I'm the type of person that I put my heart and trust in the kid, and I feel he does the same with me. And that's a tough bond to break."

Only 32, Hurtt is building an impressive resume, having played and coached at Miami, and now serving as Strong's recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach. To say that Hurtt's career is following an upward trajectory is an understatement. Don't be surprised if Hurtt, one day in the not distant future, adds a coordinator or head coaching title to his resume.

"My goal one day is to be a coordinator, and my ultimate goal is to become a head coach," Hurtt said. "That's my desire and something I've always wanted to do. It's a long road and a journey you have to take because you've got to grow and continue to develop."

He feels working - and learning - from Charlie Strong is the best possible path to achieve those lofty personal goals.

"The reason I left Miami and came here was because I knew I would have a chance to work with two of the best defensive minds in the game in Coach Strong and Coach [Vance] Bedford. I learned so many things this year. What helped make my decision to come back is I've only spent one year with these guys and learned so much. Imagine being around these guys my second or third year and continue to soak up as much information from them as possible."

Hurtt, though, isn't in a rush to climb the coaching ladder.

"When we talk about career advancement, I don't want that to be taken that I'm in a rush to go anywhere. That is not the case," Hurtt said. "For me, it's about is my family happy? If my wife and kids are happy I'm going to be quite alright. Am I happy where I'm at? Is it a good working environment with a great staff? And I couldn't work for a better head coach."

Now, Hurtt, like the rest of Strong's coaching staff, will turn attention to next season. Though Strong's first season exceeded expectations, and Louisville's recruiting class ranked among the national Top 25, Hurtt said nobody working at the Howard Schnellenberger football complex is resting on their laurels.

"We're competitive as a staff," Hurtt said. "Our goal is to continue to get better each year. We're going over everything we did in recruiting this past recruiting year, every facet of the game plan we had in recruiting to figure out which ways we can make it better. How can we improve on unofficial visits? How can we improve on official visits? How can we improve junior day, camps, and coaching clinics? And how can we reach out to high school coaches and help them get better because that helps builds relationships?

"We will get better and our whole goal is to win championships. The Beef O'Brady Bowl was a great experience and we won the game. But Coach Strong has said this numerous times – the Beef O'Brady bowl is not the goal for our program. The goal for our program is to win the Big East and go to BCS Bowl games and get to the point where we're a national championship contender. If I didn't believe that I wouldn't be here, I would be on my way to Auburn, Alabama. I believe it can be done and I know we can get it done here."

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