Charlie Strong: 'I just couldn't do it. I just couldn't'
Posted by: Chris Vannini on January 7, 2013
Charlie Strong surprised many when he spurned Tennessee to stay at Louisville.
The Cardinals backed him up by soundly defeating No. 3 Florida in the Sugar Bowl. It likely won't be the last big win for Strong at Louisville.
While on The Tim Brando Show, Strong talked about the decision to turn down Tennessee, which is transcribed in its entirety below.
"The University of Tennessee and Dave Hart did an unbelievable job, and it was hard," Strong said. "In my years of coaching, it was hard to tell them no, because I respect that program. It's an outstanding program. The tradition they built there is second to none. But the University of Louisville and Tom Jurich gave me my first (head coaching) job.
"I had a lot of players here that I recruited here. A bunch of those young players. I'm sitting there saying I recruited these players, they've been in the program for two years and I have the opportunity to go somewhere else. I told them when I recruited them to trust me and let's go build a program together. Now, all of a sudden, I have a chance to walk out.
"I just couldn't do it. I just couldn't. You're sitting there trying to prepare your football team, and you get hit with the question every day, 'Are you going to be here?' Even the players. They start reading the internet and in the meetings, they say, 'Hey coach, we heard you're leaving us.' I said, 'Guys, I'm not leaving you. I don't know where you're getting that from.' Each day, it became a constant grind. Guys, let's calm down. Trust me.
"I had a team meeting and I said, 'Listen guys, I've always talked to you guys about trust and commitment. So trust me that I'm going to make the right decision for the future, for your future and this university. That's the only thing I need you to trust me to do. I will make the right decision for everyone.'"
Chris Vannini is the lead writer for CoachingSearch.com and has covered Michigan State sports for The State News, The Oakland Press and MLive.com. He writes a weekly column for the Detroit Free Press on behalf of SB Nation. Vannini lives in Big Ten country, so his foot speed is far from SEC caliber, but his pulse on coaches is hard to match. Be sure to follow @CoachingBuzz on twitter and send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org