My thoughts on the Charlie Strong saga
Like most of my opinionated posts, this one will just be whatever comes to mind, and hopefully it ends up making sense. But who knows? This one could go all over the place.
First off, I would like to thank Charlie Strong. This program was near rock bottom when you took over, and you brought us back to being relevant again in a very short time. In your first season, you went to a bowl game after the team just went 4-8 the year before. We knew we were in for a good time from there. One of the best games I have ever been to was the Sugar Bowl. Teddy Bridgewater is one of the best players I have ever witnessed in person. So in your 4 years here, I saw some great things. And for those things, I say thank you.
Now that I have done that…
When it was clear that the Texas job would be open and Charlie’s name began to be mentioned, I just laughed it off. I told people that my worry meter was at 1%. I really thought there was no chance it would happen. Even when Vegas said it was 2-1 (they are rich for a reason huh?), I said no way. The personality just does not match the job description. Charlie Strong is a football coach. The Texas job requires you to be much more than that, and I am not sure he enjoys what that “much more” will entail.
During these last few days when other coaching names came up like Art Briles or Jim Mora and then they took their names out of consideration, Strong had not publicly said a word. Then I started to wonder “Is he really going to try it at Texas?” I still figured it would not happen. Just couldn’t see it.
Then on Saturday when it became clear that it was very likely going to happen, and everyone was checking twitter every 5 seconds, and people were tracking planes from Colorado to Louisville, I accepted it. I emotionally moved on sometime Saturday afternoon and was ready for him to go. Even when some people said “There is a snag, it may not happen” that news did not even excite me. At this point I was just ready for him to go and for us to bring in someone else to begin a new era in the ACC.
So why would I not have been pumped if he decided to stay? Because it became obvious that he was going to leave eventually. He wanted to take Clint Hurtt with him to Texas, and they wouldn’t have it. So if he stayed just because of that, then once Hurtt’s probation ended in 2015, why wouldn’t Strong then leave? It just showed that Louisville is not where he wants to be, so just go ahead and go and we will move on. Don’t drag us on for a couple more seasons if you don’t want to be here. Even when I saw tweets that James Ramsey said they were still trying to talk Strong into staying, my first thought was why? Why should you have to talk someone into wanting to stay here? Are we not good enough already? Do we really have to beg?
If it really is true that any of this had to do with him being unhappy with fan support, then I think that is crazy. Now I am one of the biggest “haters” of our own fans while I am at games. I don’t like how empty it is when I get there. I don’t like how we leave early. I hate the party deck. I don’t like how we sit on our hands and wait for something to happen when in college football, the crowd can MAKE something happen like false starts or timeouts. I criticize our fans all the time, trust me. But I am also realistic, with some help from my friend Hassan over the last couple of years. We basically started football in the 1980s, and almost gave up the sport completely. The big time schools like Notre Dame, Auburn, Alabama, and so on have been playing for over a hundred years. The fans at those games probably had their parents, grandparents, and great grandparents going to games before them and have passed down generations of traditions that still live on. There is nothing like an SEC game, trust me. But those people have not just years of tradition, but generations of tradition! We are still a young fan base and are trying to build to that level one day. So criticizing us does not help. It doesn’t really motivate fans if you criticize them. It kind of gets them to say “Well ok, I will watch on TV at home.” So if you don’t have the patience or desire to build us into one of those traditional powers, just move on and we will build it ourselves. Like I said, I criticize our fan base (as a whole) a lot, but I am understanding of our situation. I just want it to get better. I hope this current generation of fans can turn things around. Why not? Someone has to.
I was truly convinced after he turned down Tennessee last season and gave the choked up speech about UofL being in his heart, that we had our guy for a long time. I thought hmm, this guy really is different. I figured we had him for at least 10 years and he would enjoy calling Louisville “home”. Whoops. That’s all I’ve got, whoops.
I don’t like how the current players and recruits found out. They found out just like the rest of us, with mobile app alerts and social media. So Strong did not even tell them first.
I’d like to apologize to the next head coach, but I don’t think I can get attached to you. I will try to only be attached to the winning (that you hopefully bring) but I am not sure I can buy into another coach telling us that they are happy here, or “not cut like that.” Even in saying that, I know myself enough to know that I will in fact rally around you and be supportive for sure. I hope you prove me wrong about the other stuff, but it may take a few years before I emotionally attach myself to you. And yes, I know you care about this deeply.
So all of that is kind of where I stand. I am happy for what he did while he was here, because Louisville football became fun again and next year begins a whole new era in the ACC with a schedule like we haven’t seen here before. So I am excited for that and glad we have a good team heading into it. But with the things he preached and then how this all went down, I am a little more bitter than thankful. At the end of the day, Go Cards!
And yes, I had to include this, the speech after he turned down Tennessee.