I don’t blame Charlie Strong for taking the job at the University of Texas. It’s one of the premier jobs in the country. If you are coaching at Louisville or any other mid-major school and one of the arguably top 5 jobs in the sports comes calling, you go. You go fast.
The problem for Charlie Strong is coaching at Texas comes with so much more than just football. You must contend with a ton of expectations. You must do a ton of media. You must do a ton of glad-handing with boosters and the money behind the school. You can’t just focus on football.
At schools like Louisville you can. In his four years at Louisville Charlie built a very strong football program. His last two years he was able to win 11 and 12 games. One of those years he led Louisville to a win in the Sugar Bowl.
He did that by doing what he does best. He coached football. He recruited. That was it. He didn’t have to worry about anything else. Doing that for Charlie Strong equals success.
In his first year at South Florida he is finding the same success. He’s out of the spotlight. He’s back at a mid-major school and already in his first year he is off to a fantastic start. After their win tonight, they will be 7-0 and ranked in the top 15. They also appear headed for a showdown with fellow undefeated American Athletic Conference mate UCF. The winner of that showdown will almost certainly earn a bid in a New Year’s Day bowl. Something that is a major achievement for a mid-major school like UCF.
Most people look at jobs like South Florida and UCF as stepping stones. You go to a school like that for one of two reasons. If you are a up and coming young coach, you take a job like that to prove you can run a program and be a head coach. If you are a veteran coach, you go there to re-trench yourself and prove that you can coach and coach at a high level.
Maybe there should be a third option. Maybe it’s alright for coaches like Charlie Strong to realize schools like South Florida are the best fits for them. You don’t have to deal with the pressures that come with big jobs like Texas or USC. You can recruit players. Coach them and mold them into successful young men. You can get back to the reason you became a football coach.
I mean let’s be honest, Charlie Strong is still making millions to coach football. Maybe he won’t ever win a National Championship. Maybe he won’t ever be the head of one of the nation’s elite programs again. If he wins and wins big at South Florida for 10 or 20 years, he’ll still go down as a great coach with a great career.
South Florida is a great fit for Charlie Strong. South Florida is right where Charlie Strong belongs.