Strong loyalty: Card fans applaud big money contract

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The University of Louisville is backing up a promise with it's wallet. Wednesday afternoon the University's Athletic Association Board approved a $1.4 million pay raise for Coach Charlie Strong.

Strong can do no wrong when it comes to Cardinal Nation, the fans love him.

Fans said even though the price tag of the 8-year contract is high, they believe Strong and the future of the football program is worth every penny.

The Cardinal faithful gathered to get autographs and listen to the Rick Pitino radio show Wednesday night at the Buffalo Wild Wings in Middletown, but talk around the room was about football and Head Coach Charlie Strong becoming one of the top paid coaches in the country.

Fan Robert Bradford said of the news, "I really think our program with our great Athletic Director (Tom Jurich) is going to keep rockin' and rollin'."

"We just want to keep getting better and that's our goal every day is to keep raising the bar every single day," Jurich explained, "You look in the mirror and if you stay status quo you've fallen behind."

To keep up with the nation's football Jones'- the Athletic Association's Board of Directors approved a $1.4 million annual raise for Strong taking him to $3.7 million a year plus bonuses.

When it comes to big pay days, Nick Saban of Alabama is tops at $5.5 million, but Strong isn't far behind. He's on the financial heels of his former Gators boss Urban Meyer now at Ohio State who earn's $4.3 million. Strong's $3.7 million salary ranks 7th.

Fan Thomas Goff said of the money paid to the football coach, "The athletic programs make such great money for the University, whether it be the football or the basketball program," he said, "The money should be justified."

Louisville Cardinals basketball point guard Peyton Siva said he loves Charlie Strong as a person and a coach, "I'm so glad he's staying here," Siva he explained, "And I can't wait to watch him next year because I think he's doing and excellent job with our program and he makes football so exciting for this city."

Fans say they don't mind the big ticket price for two reasons: First, Strong silenced critics when the Cards surprised everyone dominating SEC power Florida in the Sugar Bowl. Second, he's proven he's talented and trust worthy by keeping his word to stay when some former Cardinal coaches flew the coop when other schools came calling.

"I thought he was gone," said fan Brad Jones after Strong got an offer from Tennessee, "But when he decided to stay it was like, we won the Sugar Bowl beforehand," he said, "It was that big to me."

There's one more increase in Stong's contract, but it's in the buyout clause. It's a graduated scale where Strong would now have to pay $5 million if he left after next season, dropping off after that.

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