In less than a months time, University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong turned down a job offer at the University of Tennessee and beat University of Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl.
On Wednesday, Strong was rewarded for turning around the program and remaining loyal to the University of Louisville.
U of L and the coach agreed to a new eight-year contract, guaranteeing Strong $3.7 million a year through the 2020 season. He is now the seventh highest paid head coach in all of college football.
"It provides stability," U of L athletic director Tom Jurich told reporters after the U of L athletic association's executive board approved the deal on Wednesday. "And you know that's something I am always looking for."
Strong's new contract does have a hefty buyout. The coach is on the road in Florida recruiting and was not immediately available for comment.
In three years at U of L, Strong has taken the program to three straight bowl games. The Cardinals beat Florida in the Allstate Sugar Bowl earlier this month and are considered a top-10 team heading into next season.
In early December, Strong was offered the Tennessee job and spent several days pondering the offer before announcing he would stay at U of L. He and Jurich said then the two parties were working on a deal.
"This is where I want to be," Strong said then.
Now, the deal is complete. Strong's new contract also includes a $100,00 incentive for reaching a BCS bowl, $50,000 for winning a BCS championship, $50,000 for being named Big East coach of the year, and $50,000 for being named national coach of the year. There are also other academic and performance incentives in the contract released by the school.
The buyout for Strong to leave after next season would be $5 million and that number drops to $4.375 after the '14 season and would then drop lower each season that he stays at U of L.
Strong will also receive a bonus of $1.25 million and a $1 million annuity if he completes three more seasons at U of L and another $1 million if he's still the coach after the 2016 season.
Strong, who was named the Big East Coach of the Year for the second time in his tenure in 2012, has turned the Louisville program around in three seasons, going 25-14, guiding the team to a pair of Big East titles and its third-straight bowl appearance.
Strong's teams also have shown a dedication to academics, as 47 student-athletes in the fall achieved a 3.0 or better grade-point average, the highest total since 2010. In December, nine of Strong's current players received their diplomas at the fall graduation ceremony.