Just when it seemed that Texas officials were close to naming Louisville’s Charlie Strong as their next head football coach, a high-ranking university source told the American-Statesman no final decision had been made.
Strong and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin are still in the mix, but school officials have ruled out Florida State’s Jimbo Fisher and Alabama’s Nick Saban as candidates.
Another well-place univeristy official told the American-Statesman that Strong had been offered the position Friday and was poised to accept it. But Strong wanted to speak with Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich and his university president first.
“He will be the coach,” the well-place source said optimistically.
Strong has turned down a major school before, though. Last December, Strong accepted the vacant Tennessee position and then backed out after he went back and talked to Jurich. Strong remained at Louisville.
At the time, Strong told reporters, “They made an offer and I said I’d think about it and talk about it with my family.”
Whether Strong or Franklin accept the Texas job, they are expected to receive a compensation package worth an estimated $5 million annually over five years, one source said.
Texas athletic director Steve Patterson is handling this search almost by himself. Univeristy president Bill Powers could not be reached for comment.
Earlier in the day, Baylor’s Art Briles and UCLA’s Jim Mora issued statements saying they were happy at their current schools, effectively pulling themselves out of the race.
Briles did not have a formal interview with Patterson, two sources with knowledge of the process — one from Texas, the other from Baylor — told the American-Statesman.
It’s unclear whether Patterson didn’t want Briles or perhaps lost interest after Baylor’s 52-42 loss to Central Florida in Wednesday’s Fiesta Bowl.
Strong emerged as one of the top candidates earlier this week when the American-Statesman reported that he had a four-hour interview with Patterson in Louisivlle. A source with knowledge of the situation said Patterson told Strong that he would interview other candidates.
The 53-year-old Arkansas native had been a defensive coordinator most of his professional career until getting his first head coaching job in 2010 at L uisville, where he’s gone 37-15 in four seasons.
This season under Strong, Louisville finished
12-1 and was second to Central Florida in the American Athletic Conference. Louisville ended the year last week with a win over Miami in the Russell Athletic Bowl 36-9.
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