By Sam Draut–
This Wednesday, the University of Louisville announced that a new contract had been established between the university and the football program’s head coach, Charlie Strong. This new contract maintains that Strong will remain the head coach of U of L football through the year 2020.
The deal will make Strong the seventh highest paid coach in college football, with a base salary of $3.7 million per year—a $1.4 million raise. This move now makes Strong the highest paid coach in the Big East conference, and when Louisville switches to the ACC, it is expected that he will remain the highest paid coach.
Louisville Athletic Director Tom Jurich frequently claimed money would not be a problem in keeping Charlie Strong. Jurich adamantly said Louisville would not be outbid for the services of Strong as head football coach.
Jurich left the proof in the paper, as Strong turned down the vacancy at Tennessee in early December with a promise to rework his contract at Louisville.
On Wednesday, Jan. 23, Strong’s new contract made him the seventh highest-paid coach in college football. Strong will make a base salary of $3.7 million per year, a $1.4 million raise from what he made last year.
Also, the deal was crafted for the long term; the eight year extension takes Strong through 2020.
This deal makes Strong the highest paid coach in the Big East. When Louisville switches to the ACC, he will most likely remain the high paid coach.
After three seasons at Louisville, Strong is 25-14 overall with two Big East Championships and two bowl victories, including the Sugar Bowl victory over Florida. This was enough evidence for Jurich to restructure a new deal.
“He’s already lived up to it; he’s already earned it. In every aspect of his coaching ability, he has an A+ to me,” Jurich said.
For players, fans and recruits, the details of the contract provided comforting plans for the future.
If Strong leaves in 2013, he must pay a $5 million buyout. That number decreases by $625,000 every year, but still remains a substantial sum for any program interested in Strong.
“Charlie did not balk at anything. It’s a hefty buyout, but we want to make sure this is a long-term contract for both parties,” Jurich said.
The two-time Big East Coach of the Year is put into the ranks of Nick Saban, Les Miles, Urban Meyer, Bob Stoops and Mack Brown in regards to salary.
Along with the move to the ACC in 2014, Strong’s new contract should improve the stability of the program, an ever present factor in recruiting battles.
This is not Jurich’s first long term deal with Louisville coaches. He emphasized the importance of keeping good coaches for numerous years.
“I like stability.” Jurich said. “I believe in stability.”
The coaching world is always subject to change, but Strong’s words echo the new contract that could potentially keep him employed to the age of 60.
“You can buy a person a lot, but you can’t buy his heart,” said Strong. “His heart is where his enthusiasm is, where his loyalty is. My heart and enthusiasm is with the University of Louisville.”
Photo: Austin Lassell/The Louisville Cardinal