LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – The future of Universityof Louisville Head Football Coach Charlie Strong is set. Strong will stay withthe Cardinals, having turned down the head coaching job at the University ofTennessee in Knoxville.
Strong will have a hefty new contract.Sources say when negotiations wrap up, Strong could make more than $4 milliona year.
Strong will formally announce hisdecision during a news conference at 8 a.m. Thursday in the footballrecruiting lounge of the Howard Schnellenberger Football Complex at Papa John'sCardinal Stadium.
WAVE 3 plans to stream the press conference live on wave3.com.
On Monday, Strong said he would announce his future plans when the time wasright, opening the door for speculation from fans and members of the media.
On Tuesday, ESPN reported that Strong had emerged as the leading candidateat Tennessee, a traditional football power in the powerful SoutheasternConference with a stadium that seats more than 100,000 people.
"I think the biggest difference goinginto that conference and into the Big East conference is that when you go intoa stadium, it's just like people love football," Strong said in January 2011. "Theypack them in. You're going to go into a 98,000, you're going to go into a100,000 and just the love for the ball."
14 months ago, UofL approved acontract extension for Strong that paid him $2.3 million a season. At the time,he was 9-10 as the Cardinals' head coach.
"We really want to buildstability and consistency in our program as we go forward, and I think Charliehas been just a tremendous leader for us and a fabulous ambassador for thisuniversity and this city," UofL Athletic Director Tom Jurich said in October2011.
Since signing that extension, Stronghas led the Cards to a 15-4 record and most important, by getting the footballprogram back on the national stage, he helped get the University of Louisvilleinto the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"This is what has to happen, people have got tostart respecting this program," Strong said on Monday. "I know what hashappened in the past here, maybe coaches have come and ran out of here andwhatever, but if you don't ever respect your program, then the rumors dohappen."
With the benefits the school expectsto reap from the ACC, both athletically and academically, in the big pictureStrong's hefty new contract is a small price to pay.
In the end, coaches' decisions affectlives across the board, from their own children to assistant coaches and theirfamilies. Strong had a lot to weigh, and now everyone can start focusing on theJanuary 2 Sugar Bowl.