Strong's focus now on Louisville

After handling Big East champion Cincinnati Friday night in the Sugar Bowl, Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong headed to Louisville to begin his rebuilding job in earnest.

Though he was hired to replace Steve Kragthorpe Dec. 8, Strong returned to Florida over the holidays to prepare the Gators defense for the Bearcats explosive offense. The Gators were well prepared, holding a Cincinnati offense that averaged 40 points per game to just three first half points in a 51-24 victory.

With his final game at Florida now in the books, Strong is eager to devote his complete attention to turning around the Louisville program.

"The thing I need to do is get back [to Louisville] and get recruiting and hiring this coaching staff," Strong told publisher Bob Redman after the Sugar Bowl victory. "The important thing is just chemistry and gelling with the [players] that we have. It's also going to be important to get guys that can recruit and understand the great tradition at [Louisville]."

Redman asked Strong if he would hire assistants he had worked with in the past.

"I will," Strong said. "You try to find guys that you've worked with before because you already have a relationship with them and you know who they are."

Strong will likely announce his new staff in the coming days. Former UNLV coach Mike Sanford has already been named Strong's offensive coordinator. Sanford, a former coordinator at Stanford and Utah, helped turn the Utes offense into one of the nation's most potent units during his two year stint under Urban Meyer in 2003-04.

Vance Bedford is expected to be named Louisville's defensive coordinator.
"He's a spread guy but he can also run the ball," Strong said. "It's going to be critical that we're able to run the football and spread people out."

Thursday, the Associated Press reported that Florida defensive backs coach Vance Bedford would become Strong's defensive coordinator at Louisville. However, the Miami Herald reported Saturday that Florida could counter Louisville's offer and Beford might remain at Florida. The newspaper reported that Bedford said Friday that he plans to recruit in Miami next week for Florida. Strong, however, gave confirmation to the Gainesville Sun Friday evening that Beford would follow him to Louisville.

Strong also could name former Georgia assistant Jon Fabris as defensive line coach. CBS analyst Tony Barhart reported Friday that Florida assistant Kenny Carter could be named running back coach at Louisville. Louisville assistant Larry Slade also could remain with the Cardinals.

With his coaching staff taking shape, Strong will focus on securing his first recruiting class at Louisville. The Cardinals are expected to host more than a dozen prospects for official visits next weekend – the first major recruiting weekend of the Strong era at UofL. Strong told Redman that the plan for his first recruiting class is to meet Louisville's needs at wide receiver and on defense.

"They already had some commitments but we've just got to fulfill our needs, whether it be on the defensive line, wide receivers, everything on defense probably," Strong said.

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