Louisville Set to Approve Hiring Charlie Strong Wednesday
Strong, 49, has been UF's defensive coordinator since 2003. Strong will be allowed to coach in the Gators' Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl contest against Cincinnati if he desires, a source told FanHouse.
Strong will become only the third African-American head coach among the 66 Bowl Championship Series member schools and only the 11th minority head coach among the 120 Football Bowl Subdivision schools.
Strong was in Little Rock, Ark., Tuesday where he was a finalist for the Frank Broyles Award, honoring the nation's top assistant. Strong also was a finalist for the Broyles Award in 2008 and in 2000, when he was defensive coordinator at South Carolina.
Long considered one of the nation's top assistants, Strong did not get any interviews for the 22 FBS head coaching openings last season. In January, he attributed that to the fact he has an interracial marriage.
"Everybody always said I didn't get [an earlier head coaching] job because my wife [Victoria] is white," Strong said on Jan. 5 at last year's BCS title game media day. "If you think about it, a coach is standing up there representing the university. If you're not strong enough to look through that [interracial marriage] then you have an issue."
Strong has been the mastermind behind Florida's defense. This year, the Gators rank No. 3 nationally in pass defense (151.6 yards per game) and scoring defense (11.5 points per game), No. 4 in total defense (253 yards per game) and No. 13 in rushing defense (101.6 yards per game).
In the past two seasons, the Gators allowed more than 21 points in only two of 27 games and held 18 of 27 opponents to 14 points or less.
Also in two of the last three seasons, Strong's defense shut down a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback (Ohio State's Troy Smith and Oklahoma's Sam Bradford) and held both the Buckeyes and Sooners to season lows in points while winning the national title. In last season's BCS title game, Oklahoma had scored at least 58 points in six consecutive games before Strong's defense held the Sooners to 14 points.
Before coming to Florida, Strong was an assistant at South Carolina, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Southern Illinois and Texas A&M.
At Louisville, Strong replaces Steve Kragthorpe, who was fired after going 15-21 in three seasons with the Cardinals. Strong first met with Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich Sunday in Gainesville, a day after the Gators' 32-13 loss to Alabama in the SEC Championship.
The Cardinals, who have not had a winning record since winning the Big East title and Orange Bowl in 2006, return nine offensive and five defensive starters from last year's 4-8 team.