Strong hits ground running at Louisville

It's been a busy first couple days on the job for Charlie Strong. While Strong's wife has been busy house hunting, Louisville's new coach has been recruiting, working on his staff and satisfying his media obligations.

Friday, Strong met with reporters at the Louisville football complex to talk about his first days on the job.

"We're getting settled in," Strong said. "I've looked at a few recruits, talked to a few coaches and just getting familiar with the city. There have been a lot of interviews. I've been on TV a few times. But it's really been exciting."

While Strong hasn't had a lot of time to catch his breath, he is trying to make sure he doesn't make any hasty decisions in regards to his coaching staff.

"I try to take my family out to dinner but it's kind of a whirlwind," Strong said. "There are a lot of things to be done and the best thing is to catch your breath and take your time and make sure I do the right things."

Strong said he hasn't made any final decisions on his coaching staff and didn't announce any staff hirings Friday.

Charlie Strong is off to a quick start at Louisville.
"I have not made any staff decisions," Strong said. "I'm going to go through this weekend and then decide which direction we're going to go."

There have been a lot of names speculated for positions on Strong's staff this week, including Jacksonville head coach Kerwin Bell as offensive coordinator and either Tennessee assistant Lance Thompson or Florida assistant Vance Bedford as defensive coordinator.

"There are a lot of guys calling me," said Strong. "We're getting a ton of phone calls and resumes sent in. People want to work here because they see what's going to happen."

Strong said there are two key ingredients he's looking for in potential assistants.

"We want to get a staff that can relate to the players that are here right now," Strong said. "We want to get a staff that can recruit and teach. What's critical is we get the right guys in here for the players we have in place right now."

Strong said money shouldn't impede his efforts to land a great coaching staff.

"I think we'll have enough money to hire who we want to hire because we want to get some good assistants in here," Strong said.

Strong has also been focused on recruiting during his first days as Louisville's new coach. Strong has spoken with several prospective student-athletes and he's getting a positive response on the recruiting front.

"They're excited," Strong said. "The thing about recruits is they know a lot about this program already because [we] were in the Orange Bowl three years ago. They understand what the Big East conference is and the talent and teams in this conference."

Strong landed a commitment from four-star 2011 quarterback DaMarcus Smith on his first official day on the job Thursday. Smith attends Louisville Seneca High School and chose the Cardinals over Oregon, Kentucky and others.

"It's always great to get it going quickly and let people know we're going to recruit here very hard," Strong said. "I'm going to be heavily involved in recruiting. We need to recruit the city of the Louisville and this state. We need to go up into Ohio. We need to go to Florida, we need to go to Georgia. We need to go where there are football players. It's going to be critical to build relationships with the high school coaches in Kentucky."

While Strong puts together his staff in December, he'll be pointing toward a busy month of official visits in January where he plans to use Louisville basketball games as a showcase for his program. Strong said he'll recruit to fill "needs" with this recruiting class.

"I want to recruit guys that Florida recruits because at some point you're going to have to play them," Strong said. "If you're going to get to a BCS bowl you're going to play Florida, USC, LSU and Alabama. I want those type of players also."

Strong also said he'll evaluate the 17 prospects that are currently committed to the Cardinals and make determinations on whether he'll honor the scholarships Steve Kragthorpe handed out before he was fired in November.

"We'll look at them and be honest with them," Strong said. "That will happen I just haven't had a chance to watch all of them."

Strong met briefly with the current Louisville players before he was formally introduced as UofL's coach on Wednesday. He plans to meet with them more extensively after he returns from coaching Florida's defense in the Sugar Bowl Jan. 1 vs. Cincinnati.

"I told them they need to take care of their finals and when we get back on January 5th we'll have a team meeting," Strong said. "I want them to understand that we're not going to accept losing. We need to understand how to win and we'll teach them how to win. We'll get the right staff in here to teach them how to do that."

Strong said he'll be in Louisville until next Thursday before returning to Gainesville for Florida's practices for the Sugar Bowl. He said he'll recruit a few days next week before heading back to help Florida get ready for the Bearcats.

"I'll return on Jan. 2 and from there we should have a staff in place and be moving right along," Strong said.

Strong also said he'll be heavily involved in coaching UofL's defense even though he'll hire someone else to act as defensive coordinator.

"My plan is I'd like to work with special teams and the defense," said Strong. "I know how to coach defense and I don't want to sit back as a head coach. I'm going to be involved with the defense. I won't be our defensive coordinator but I will be involved with the defense."

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