LOUISVILLE — Charlie Strong's decision to stay at Louisville is the second major coup for the Cardinals in eight days.
After reports linking Strong to several openings in the Southeastern Conference, he said Thursday that he wasn't going anywhere. Keeping the coach had become a priority for Louisville after announcing last week it will join the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014.
"I knew this would be a big opportunity," Strong said during a press conference at the Cardinals' football stadium. "It was the best decision to stay here, continue to build a program and fulfill our dreams on the football field and in the classroom."
Strong turned down an offer from Tennessee on Tuesday night to replace Derek Dooley, who was fired on Nov. 18. Strong had been in discussions with the Volunteers since last Thursday but did not provide any details of their offer.
Now that Louisville knows Strong is staying, athletic director Tom Jurich said they will begin re-negotiating the seven-year contract Strong received last year that currently pays him $2.3 million per season.
Jurich said Strong didn't use the Tennessee offer as leverage for a new deal and that they only began taking about it an hour before Thursday's press conference. Nonetheless, Jurich wants to work out a deal that will keep Strong at Louisville eight more years beyond this season and increase the salary of his assistant coaches.
Jurich admitted he has been a bit nervous these last few days. After Louisville announced its ACC plans, Jurich vowed to beat any offer made to his coach. But he didn't know for sure what Strong would do.
The AD said Strong's choice to remain with the Cardinals "says that we're committed. But we've always been committed. Everybody always looks at us as a longshot, but we're not an underdog. I'm probably biased, but I truly believe that as of 7:40 last Wednesday morning when (ACC President) John Swofford called, this is a top-10 job in the country in football."
At Louisville Strong became a coveted asset and his stock rose with the Cardinals' success.
Under Strong, the No. 22 Cardinals (10-2) won a share of the Big East Conference championship again this season and a BCS berth in the Sugar Bowl, where they'll face Florida. On Thursday he was named as the conference's coach of the year.
With his services in high demand, Louisville wanted to ensure he would stay — especially after announcing it is leaving the Big East, which is struggling to remain relevant in the constantly changing college football landscape.
Bridgewater, Strong win Big East honors
Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater is the Big East Conference offensive player of the year; Charlie Strong is the league's co-coach of the year.
Strong won for the second time in three seasons after Louisville (10-2) clinched a share of the conference title for the second straight year.
Bridgewater threw for 3,452 yards and 25 touchdowns in 11 games as a starter. He passed for 263 yards and two TDs in last week's title-clinching victory over Rutgers despite playing with a broken left wrist.
The sophomore leads seven Cardinals on all-conference first and second teams announced Thursday.
Louisville's other first-teamers on offense: center Mario Benavides and receiver DeVante Parker.
On defense cornerback Adrian Bushell made first team; Cardinals linebacker Preston Brown and safeties Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith made second team.