Texas fired Charlie Strong on Saturday, ending his three-year run with the Longhorns. But expect the former Louisville head coach to land another gig sooner than later.
Texas parted ways with head coach Charlie Strong after he recorded the worst winning percentage in Longhorns history after three seasons.
So what’s next for Strong?
The now-former Longhorn held numerous assistant jobs before becoming a head coach at Louisville in 2010, which began a four-year run in which he put together a 37-15 record and reached a bowl game each season, including a Sugar Bowl win over Florida.
Texas owes Strong a buyout of about $11.2 million, but that figure decreases upon his future employment. While sitting out next season is a possibility, what Strong dealt with this fall makes me think that he will be itching to get right back to work.
Can he get another head gig for next season? I don’t care about his record at Texas. This guy can coach, which is why I could see a Group of Five school giving him another shot. Also, keep in mind that coaches such as Ron Zook and Charlie Weis landed other head-coaching gigs following flops at major schools. Meanwhile, Louisville went 23-3 in Strong’s last two seasons.
Becoming a defensive coordinator again is another option, as he had several years of success in that role.
Let’s take a look at what could be next for Strong.
Cincinnati Head Coach
The Bearcats have not dimissed Tommy Tuberville, and they may not do so. But if you look around in the AAC, there are a lot of programs on the rise under new leadership. Tom Herman is on his way to Texas, and SMU may lose Chad Morris. But Willie Taggart at South Florida, Matt Rhule at Temple, Scott Frost at UCF, and Philip Montgomery at Tulsa are coming off of strong years, while Ken Niumatalolo is simply one of the best in the game. Meanwhile, Cincy is coming off of a 4-8 season with just one league win one year following a 7-6 mark. The team has lost three straight bowl games, and the program just seems stuck in reverse. Strong would destroy at Cincinnati and help breathe some new life into the program. He would be able to bring in a lot of recruits that Urban Meyer cannot fit into his class in Columbus each year, and Cincy would start to very much resemble those Louisville teams that helped propel Strong toward the Texas gig.
South Florida Head Coach
The aforementioned Willie Taggart may not be long for USF, as he has led the Bulls to wins in 16 of their last 20 games and will eventually get a head gig in a Power Five conference. Could it be during this round of coaching roulette? Taggart has worked under Jim Harbaugh and had success at Western Kentucky before heading to USF. If the Bulls cannot retain him, bringing in Strong to utilize his recruiting prowess in the state of Florida would be a very wise move. We saw the talent Strong was able to bring to Louisville. It could be scary to ponder the possible talent he’d bring into USF—including players that Florida, Florida State, etc. would be interested in as well.
Cal Head Coach
Sonny Dykes parlayed his success at Louisiana Tech into the head gig at Cal, and he led the Golden Bears to an 8-5 mark last year. While Cal has just four wins this fall, the Bear Raid brand would play well at a place such as Baylor. And keep in mind that after last season, Dykes reportedly interviewed at Missouri, Virginia, and South Carolina before negotiating an extension in Berkeley. If he leaves, Strong would be a great replacement at a school such as Cal because he is well-respected, graduates his players and led programs free of scandals. He would also make Cal-Stanford great again.
Notre Dame Defensive Coordinator
Strong served as defensive line coach in South Bend from 1995-1998, and we all witnessed the season-long struggles of the Fighting Irish defensively this fall. Brian VanGorder was let go early in the season, and the Irish have a slew of young pieces on that side of the ball that would learn a lot from the defensive-minded Strong. Plus, Irish head coach Brian Kelly is entering a big year following a brutal 2016 season complete with more off-the-field noise. Strong would be a big addition to the ND staff.
As for any other DC job, Strong would essentially be a home-run hire. ND makes the most sense, but we’ll see if Strong perhaps lands back in the SEC.
*It won’t happen, as Bob Stoops won’t dismiss brother Mike Stoops, but how great would it be if Strong ended up as Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator and was able to see Texas each season in the Red River Rivalry?
*Replacing Herman also won’t happen (for obvious reasons), but Strong would also own the AAC if he led the Cougars.