Jurich sets sights on next coach

Tom Jurich announced Saturday afternoon that Steve Kragthorpe has been fired as the University of Louisville's head football coach.

Tom Jurich didn't wait long after Louisville's season concluded to announce the dismissal of embattled football coach Steve Kragthorpe.

Less than 24 hours after the Cards season-ending 34-14 loss to Rutgers, Jurich called a press conference Saturday afternoon to announce his decision. Jurich met with Kragthorpe Saturday morning and informed him that he was going to make a coaching change.

"I just felt we needed to go in another direction and get this program back on the track we strive to be on," Jurich said. "I don't think there was one thing. I watched as the whole season progressed and I felt we needed a change in culture."

Kragthorpe finished with a 15-21 record at UofL in three seasons. The Cardinals performance on the field declined each season under Kragthorpe. UofL went 6-6 during his first season in 2007, 5-7 in 2008 and just 4-8 this season. Kragthorpe never led Louisville to a bowl game during his tenure.

"I was hoping we would get over the hump this year but obviously that didn't happen," Jurich said. "So I felt this was the appropriate time to make a change."

The most critical question now is what direction Jurich will head to find Kragthorpe's replacement. Houston head coach Kevin Sumlin, Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach, former Tennessee head coach Phil Fulmer and former Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville are considered top candidates.

"We need a great person - that's got to be our No. 1 criteria," Jurich said. "Somebody that's a great leader and somebody that wants to be here. It's got to be the right fit, the right person. I've got people [in mind]. I don't really have one person."

Sumlin, Strong and Leach are still coaching at their respective schools. Strong will lead Florida's top-ranked defense against Alabama next Saturday in the SEC Championship game. If Houston wins today, Sumlin's Cougars will play in the Conference USA Championship next weekend. Tuberville and Fulmer aren't coaching this season.

"I'm not going to intrude on anybody's season," Jurich said, noting that he was talking about the regular season.

Jurich also said that prior head coaching experience won't be a requirement for the Cardinals next coach. Strong is the only one of the five candidates mentioned above with no prior head coaching experience on his resume.

"This is 100 percent my responsibility," Jurich said. "I want to fix this. I'm going to fix it the right way and get a great coach in here. I'm going to get a great leader of men and somebody that will take us back to the heights we want to be...to the top of the Big East."

Jurich said UofL will pay Kragthorpe for the two years remaining on his contract. ESPN.com reported the buyout as $2.2 million.

"I thought his experience would bode well for us but it just didn't fit. He never really was a good fit from day one," Jurich said. "That's something I've got to question myself on."

Jurich didn't provide a time frame for his next hire.

"We're going to do better, I'll make that promise to you," Jurich said. "I think it's a great job. There are a lot of great jobs out there but I think we're one of them. I really do."

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