Notes: Strong talks schedule, BCS title, more

University of Louisville football coach Charlie Strong and Kentucky coach Mark Stoops spent the afternoon at Hurstbourne Country Club on Wednesday for the annual Governor's Cup Kickoff Luncheon. The game is set for Sept. 14 in Lexington. Here are a few notes from the news conferences.


It sure didn't take long during Charlie Strong's press conference at the Governor's Cup Luncheon to get a question about his team's schedule.

With Louisville moving into the American Athletic Conference this season, there have been plenty of national pundits talk about the strength of the U of L schedule.

"You talk about our schedule and the only thing you can do is look at it game-by-game," Strong said. "But what's important for us and what we have to understand is that when you look at our schedule, it's really all about us.

"It's all about player improvement. You don't ever want to worry about an opponent, you want to worry about yourself. We have to have guys improve and play at a level that we expect them to be at.

"There are some really good teams on that schedule, but still we have to worry about our own football team. We have to improve each and every week.

Strong said the expectations put upon this team are "realistic" and then joked the first year here his team should have won two games and "then four and last year won six last year and those expectations wouldn't have been so high."

"But when you have a football team like we do, you don't mind it and like it this way better than the other way. My first year they didn't pick us to win any games."


Strong then faced the question about could his team this season get into a position to win the BCS national title game.

The Cardinals are expected to be ranked in the top 10 of the preseason polls after an 11-2 season and win over Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

"Somebody told me a long time ago that you don't ever talk about winning a national championship, you just wake up and you are the national champion," said Strong, a coach on Florida's national title staff twice.

Strong said in those two years at Florida that the staff "never talked about winning a national championship," only stressing improvement.

"As a football team, you have to have the right attitude," he said. "You've got to get your football players to improve each and every week and you've got to get focused on that game, that game you are getting ready to play.

"You can't lose focus. I don't know if we've reached that level with this program right now because you have to be consistent and it goes back that you have to learn how to win. You have to handle winning. I don't ever want to talk about winning a national championship with this group of guys because there's a lot that has to happen and there's a lot of luck involved. You don't want to put added pressure on your team. You want to stay focused."

Strong said after winning two at Florida that the third season the Gators were loaded and "it wasn't fun any game, even winning. You would have thought that we lost every game that season and I don't want that to happen to this team."


There has been some speculation in recent months that Kentucky might want to drop the series if the Southeastern Conference goes to a nine-game regular-season schedule at some point in the next few years.

The Louisville camp is totally against dropping the series.

Several U of L officials in recent weeks have told Cardinal Authority that any notion the Cardinals don't want to play the game is false.

Strong echoed those sentiments on Wednesday.

"It's big because it's an in-state game," Strong said. "You look at the two major universities within the state and you love this game. We play this game and then they go play in the Southeastern Confernece and we go play in our conference, but it's great. There's a lot of support.

"People always talk about UK vs. Louisville and they understand the rivalry and understand how big that game is."


Strong was asked if the buzz that Mark Stoops has created as the new coach at Kentucky is "on the radar in Louisville."

"No because the only thing we can look at is our program and take care of what we have here," Strong said. "You want success for both programs because you are two in-sate programs and you want to see that happen for both programs.


Strong had a couple of injury updates.

He said running back Senorise Perry is "right on track to come back" for fall camp after ending last season with knee surgery.

Defensive tackle Jamaine Brooks "will be back" after banging his knee in the spring and should be back. He said he wasn't sure how long De'Angelo Brown would be out after an Achilles injury.

"Our overall health, it should be pretty good," he said.

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