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Louisville's Strong headed to Texas

 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Louisville coach Charlie Strong has told Cardinals athletic director Tom Jurich that he is leaving for Texas.

Strong, 37-15 in four seasons at Louisville, including 3-1 in bowl games, will replace Mack Brown.

The 53-year-old Strong met this week with new Texas athletic director Steve Patterson about the coaching vacancy, but he wanted to wait until speaking directly with Jurich to accept Texas' offer. Jurich was on vacation in Colorado and weather problems made traveling back to Louisville difficult.

Jurich returned to Louisville on Saturday night and met with Strong. Jurich gave Strong his first chance to be a head coach after a long successful career as a defensive coordinator at Florida and South Carolina.

SI.com reported Strong will receive a five-year contract that will pay him $5 million annually.

Texas officials declined comment Saturday night, but were expected to make a formal announcement on Strong taking over the Longhorns on Sunday.

Strong's decision ends a day that began with him telling assistant coaches in a brief meeting that he hadn't decided whether to accept Texas' offer. Asked about the coach's timetable for a decision, Louisville football spokesman Rocco Gasparro said, "It's a difficult decision for him."

Strong leaves as one of Louisville's most successful coaches, one who took the program from three consecutive non-winning seasons to four straight bowl games including Louisville's second BCS victory last January with a 33-23 upset of Florida in the Sugar Bowl. The Cardinals added another bowl win last week, beating Miami 36-9 in the Russell Athletic Bowl.

He would be Texas' first black head football coach and inherits a program aching to reclaim its place among the nation's elite.

Brown's Longhorns won the 2005 season national championship and returned to the title game after the 2009 season. But the Longhorns fell to 5-7 in 2010 and have lost at least four games each of the last three seasons.

The Longhorns ended the 2013 season with a 30-7 loss to Oregon in the Alamo Bowl.

That dropoff, including an 18-17 mark in the Big 12 over the last four seasons, frustrated Texas fans, who demand much more from the wealthiest athletic program in the country that sits in the middle of the most fertile high school recruiting grounds in the country.

Strong's hiring provides the Longhorns a strong recruiter that has built his program with talent from south Florida, including star quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.

Texas also has its Longhorn Network partnership with the ESPN, a 24-hour channel dedicated to Texas athletics, a deal that pays the school at least $300 million over 20 years.

Brown had cited the fractured fan base in his resignation news conference and said it was time for someone else to unite Texas supporters. Brown lasted 16 years in the pressure cooker of Texas, but his final four years included university regents and powerbrokers exploring when and how to replace him, including a meeting with Alabama coach Nick Saban's agent in early 2013.
GARY GRAVES, AP Sports Writer


 

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