Meet a candidate: Charlie Strong

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Born: August 2, 1960 (age 52)

Education: Central Arkansas, University of Florida

Current Position: Head coach, University of Louisville

Record: 24-14 (.632)

Playing Career: Central Arkansas (1980-83)

Family: Wife, Victoria, two daughters, Hailee and Hope, and son from a previous relationship, Tory

Coaching Stops: Florida graduate assistant (1983-84), Texas A&M graduate assistant (1985), Southern Illinois wide receivers (1986-87), Florida outside linebackers (1988-89), Ole Miss wide receivers (1990), Florida assistant head coach/defensive tackles (1991-94), Notre Dame defensive line (1995-98), South Carolina defensive coordinator (1999-2001), Florida defensive coordinator/assistant head coach (2002-2009).


Charlie Strong fits almost every criteria that Tennessee athletics director Dave Hart outlined to a T, pun intended. Strong has been a head coach, he knows the conference and he has had success everywhere he has been.

The Batesville, Ark., native has spent the majority of this coaching career in and around the Southeastern Conference with coaching stops at Ole Miss, South Carolina and most notably Florida under head coach Urban Meyer.

Before heading south to Gainesville, Strong became the first African American coordinator in SEC history in 1999 at South Carolina. Using his stay at South Carolina as a springboard, Strong moved on to Florida where he was named defensive coordinator and eventually both interim and assistant head coach.

Prior to taking the job at Louisville, Strong was considered one of the nation's best defensive coordinators. He was a part of several staffs that saw the Gators rise back to elite status winning SEC East titles in 2003, 2006, 2008 and 2009 as well as two overall SEC titles and BCS National titles in 2006 and 2008.

For his excellent efforts in the 2008 season, Strong was named a finalist for the Broyles Award, awarded to the nation's top assistant coach.

During his time at Florida, he coached 13 All-American players, a National Defensive Player of the Year, a Jack Tatum Award winner, two SEC Defensive Freshmen of the Year, two Jim Thorpe Award finalists, two Nagurski Trophy finalists and a 2008 Chevrolet Defensive Player of the Year. He also developed seven first-round NFL Draft picks and 18 players that were selected in the third round or higher.

As a recruiter, Strong has proved to be a very valuable asset. He played a vital part in inking a 2007 Florida class that finished with a No. 1 in the country according to FOX Sports NEXT, a class that featured 10 five-star recruits, six of which were defensive signees.

Strong is currently in his third season at Louisville and has a record of 24-14. The Cardinals are fresh off a Thursday-night win over Rutgers that clinched a BCS birth and a share of the Big East title. Strong's squad battled back from a 14-0 deficit and kicked a game-winning field goal with 1:41 left in the contest to top the Scarlet Knights 20-17.


Strong has the head coaching experience and success. He is a defensive-minded coach, which is vital to success in the Southeastern Conference and he has the recruiting experience that Tennessee needs to climb back to the top of the toughest conference in America. His experience with the Gators gives him recruiting ties throughout the southeast, which will be vital in inking a very important class in 2013.


Strong's record at Louisville doesn't blow you out of the water at first glance — two 7-6 seasons and a 1-1 post-season record. However, take a look at what he walked into and what it has become and his record might become more impressive. On the other had, while Strong has proved his worth in recruiting as an assistant coach, as a head coach, Strong isn't doing so hot. Louisville currently has the No. 68 class in 2013 according to FOX Sports NEXT. His 2012 class ranked No. 42 with just three four-star recruits.

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