By now, most Texas fans know what type of coach they have in Charlie Strong. But many still don’t know who he is as a person. What’s his character really like?
The American-Statesman spent two days in Louisville in late January talking to people both on campus and off. The picture that emerges is detailed in an exhaustive feature in Sunday’s newspaper.
Several of Strong’s friends said they had mixed emotions about him leaving for for the Longhorns.
“Y’all hired a hell of a man. I know you hired a great human being,” said Seth Hancock, who oversees Claiborne Farm and once pushed Strong to Kentucky administrators when they had a head coaching job open after the 2002 season.
“In my eyes, and I know I’m prejudiced,” Hancock said, “Texas got an eight-year younger version of Nick Saban.”
You simply cannot generate the passion and emotion these people have for Strong without being genuine.
Allan Lavin, another of Strong’s friends, said: “I just have such a huge range of emotion about this. I am thrilled for Charlie. I’m really sad personally and for Louisville as a city.”
One of the most fascinating aspects of Strong’s off-field life is his relationship with Kosair Children’s Hospital.
The story details how Strong met nurse manager Judy Eberenz, a huge Kentucky fan, and became a regular around the hospital.
“He’s genuine,” better known to Strong as “Kentucky Judy.
“He wanted to know abut he kids, about the families,” Eberenz added. “He wanted to know from the very first day he stepped foot in Kosair Children’s hospital, he wanted to know about what we do, the families and the kids.”
As for Louisville officials, some of them grew frustrated with Strong’s unwillingness to help promote the department at times. But they all insisted that he was passionate about making his players study and graduate.
“Everyone saw how serious he was about kids doing well in the classroom and that carried over until we left,” said linebacker coach Brian Jean-Mary, who followed Strong to Texas.
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