FAYETTEVILLE — It's no secret Louisville coach Charlie Strong is being mentioned as a potential candidate at Arkansas.
It makes sense. Strong is an Arkansas native. He played at Central Arkansas. He has an extensive Southeastern Conference background as a defensive coach and has done a good job at Louisville, which is 5-0 and ranked No. 19 in his third season with the program (19-12 overall).
Strong's name became a part of the national conversation last Saturday, when ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit mentioned the coach as a solution to Arkansas' coaching search during College GameDay. Jim Rome continued the conversation Wednesday, when Strong was a guest on the "Jim Rome Show."
Rome asked Strong about Arkansas during a portion of the interview. Below is what Strong said:
"I always said this: The athletic director here, the president here, gave me my first opportunity. I know a lot of times that your name comes up with all of these different jobs. But when someone has reached out to you, then I owe it to (Louisville) to uphold what we’ve been talking about. I know that phone call, I’m not saying it may come, it may not come because the name is out there. When I got this job, my name wasn’t even in the mix with the Louisville job. So I’m fine. I am. … I am fine where I’m at and I have a lot of backing here. My family is here. They love it here. I’m pretty comfortable where I’m at.”
Rome followed the response with another question about Louisville, asking Strong if he felt loyalty to the program for giving him his first head coaching job:
“It does. You don’t just walk away. A lot of times we think that grass is greener on the other side. You don’t walk away when you’re building a program. And then I look at the players that I recruited here. So I told them to come here for me and for this university and then all of a sudden I get a shot to go somewhere else and I walk away from them? I’m just not cut like that.”
Strong, according to Eric Crawford of WDRB Sports in Louisville, earns a base salary of $2.3 million with the Cardinals. His buyout is $2.5 million through June 30 and drops to $1 million after the date, according to Crawford. Strong will receive a $2.5 million loyalty bonus if he stays through 2015.
All things to keep in mind as Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long continues to search for the program's coach for 2013.
— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau