There are Strong issues in college football

By Adam Silverstein
October 12, 2009

Originally written Jan. 30, 2009; edited Oct. 12, 2009

Racism, bigotry, oppression, hate and lack of acceptance are great for the football program at the University of Florida.

Calm down and hold your horses before you pass judgment – let me explain. The Florida Gators do not advocate or support these absurd ideologies – you can now take a breath – but its opponents certainly do.

Otherwise, how can you explain the fact that a man like Charlie Strong has yet to be offered a head coaching job in NCAA Division-IA football? (Sorry, I do not recognize this new B.S. “FBS” designation.)

How can you explain that a man who has been defensive coordinator at one of the best and most talented football programs in the country for eight straight years, finding success under three different head coaches, has not advanced from said position?

Because he buttons the top button of his polo shirts? Please.

How can you explain that one of the best defensive minds in college football – a man who held the “best offense in NCAA history” in the 2008 Oklahoma Sooners to 14 points, did the same in 2006 to the Ohio State Buckeyes, whose defense only gave up more than 21 points in one game in all of 2008 and is now averaging only 6.4 points per game in 2009 – has not been recognized as such?

Because he graduated from the University of Central Arkansas? No way.

How can you explain that one of the best college recruiters (Rivals top 25) to come around the state of Florida (arguably the most talent-rich state in the union) cannot land a head coaching job at a university looking to dive into the aforementioned talent pool?

Because he lost his only game as head coach, the 2004 Peach Bowl (six years ago), by 17 points? Come on…

How can you explain that a man: with 27 years of collegiate coaching experience at major universities (Florida, South Carolina, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Southern Illinois, Texas A&M); who has coached in 19 bowl games (including 12 in January); who has coached under Lou Holtz, Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer; whose defenses at UF have (a) scored points off turnovers in 41 of 64 games , (b) intercepted 85 passes in five years, (c) ranked first in the SEC and second in the nation in rushing defense the past three seasons [all numbers prior to 2009 season]; and who will soon be the longest tenured defensive coordinator in school history, still has not been given a chance to do for another school what he has done so well at Florida?

Because he is an African-American man.

Because he has a Caucasian wife.

And because he refuses to apologize for either.

While Strong and the Gators have no problem with how he lives his life, the rest of the “Good Ol’ Boy Network” sure seems to. That is why the three previous responses can be the only answers to the aforementioned questions. That is why a man with a resume as stacked as Strong’s, with a passion for recruiting and coaching young men to be the best they can be, is looked over every off-season.

“If you think about it, a coach is standing up there representing the university,” Strong said as the Gators prepared for the FedEx BCS National Championship Game (his second in three years). “If you’re not strong enough to look through that [interracial marriage], then you have an issue.”

It does seem that the NCAA has issues, doesn’t it? There are seven black coaches at the nation’s 119 major football schools after four were hired this December. These schools must not be concerned with recruiting the best players, having a defense that stifles opposing offenses, building boys into young men with drive and character and, you know, winning football games.

They sure do have issues, Coach. But do you know who doesn’t have issues with you? Gators fans, Gators boosters and the student-athletes who accept your pitch, come to Florida to learn from one of the best defensive minds in the game, excel at their position and often get drafted quite high in the NFL.

Do you know who doesn’t have issues with you, Coach? Gator Nation. You will always be welcome here.

I’m just glad (for our sake) that no one is rushing to take you away from us.


  1. ZURBO says:

    i have no problem with the SEC no offering him a job….Even though he deserves it, I love seeing him on the sidelines at Ben Hill Griffin on Saturdays!

  2. Agreed, love seeing him in orange and blue. But the problem is not only with the SEC – it is every major conference.

  3. Kaity says:

    It definitely isn’t fair that he doesn’t have a HC job. He’s more than earned it. But I can’t help but be happy that he’s still around. We’re lucky that so many programs are so ignorant.

  4. Gatorfan33 says:

    I agree with Kaity on this and great article Adam. I love to give the man a huge pay raise and just keep him here for as long as he wants to be here. This is one of the reasons that I wish there was no limit on what the coaching staff could make. He has more than earned a $2-3 million a years salary but I bet he makes nothing close to that.

  5. j.b says:

    Great article, Adam. Well written, and it needs to be discuss (unfortunately).

    I have one bone to pick, though. Why didn’t we hire him after Zook left? Did we even give him an interview? He was already the interim head coach at the time (as you referenced above).
    The same arguments apply to Florida in this situation.

    But, as others have said above, though it’s absolutely ridiculous he’s being blackballed in this way (and a sad testimony against the SEC and NCAA) it’s in our favor. The man can flat-out coach! Their loss is our gain, and we’ll continue to dominate these teams as long as he’s here.

  6. Adam Silverstein says:

    Defensive coordinators do not get salaries like that. That is a head coach salary. I think the highest paid DC by a mile is Monte Kiffin and he is getting $1.2M

  7. SC_Gator says:

    Prior to the most recent raises (brought on by winning the SEC and MNC) announced a month or so back, Charlie earned 310k a year. Even after the raises I think it is only something like 375k a year.

  8. Thanks, j.b.

    When you are looking at Urban Meyer vs. Charlie Strong, there were a plethora of reasons to hire Meyer over Strong. Don’t forget – Strong has been his most successful SINCE Meyer…not before him. That’s like arguing Spurrier never should have left AFTER he failed with the Redskins.

    I am quite sure Florida interviewed Strong for the job – but there is no way to come out of an interview with Meyer and not want to hire him over any other candidate. So I must disagree with you, those arguments do NOT apply to Florida in that situation. If I had to put money on it, should Meyer leave at any point while Strong is still a member of the staff – he will be hired to replace him. Just like Anthony Grant was the first phone call after Billy Donovan left.

  9. Gatorfan33 says:

    I understand that the money I quoted is HC money but IMO you should be able to pay coordinators big money to keep them around longer and to show how much you appreciate them.

  10. Mell says:

    Christianity liberates everyone, proclaiming that we are all equal before God. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28)
    Thank you Lord for Charlie Strong and his family.

  11. Trust me – I am in COMPLETE agreement that Strong deserves to make A LOT more money. Hell, I’m advocating that he get a head coaching gig. So maybe give him $1M or $1.5M … if we have it in the UAA budget … but I was explaining those numbers were just way above normal. 🙂

  12. Aligator says:

    I think he a great coordinator and would not make a great head coach? why would you want to go coach a crap team, like Mullen did, to be a head coach? You are in a no win situation. At least at a program like this he can be a winner every year! There are a ton of coordinators out there that are happy being coordinators and not head coaches. I think everyone is blowing all of this out of proportion because of his race.

    Pay him out the ass to do what he does best and that is to coach defense!!

  13. Money, power, credibility, authority. There are a ton of reasons.

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