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Florida Gators Charlie Strong being mentioned as a possible coaching candidate at Memphis

GAINESVILLE -- It's that time of year again. Once again, Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong is being mentioned as a possible candidate for a recently vacated head coaching position.

Strong's name has been mentioned in connection with the opening at Memphis, where Tommy West was shown the door this week after the Tigers' embarrassing loss to Tennessee. Gator Clause saw this coming about a month ago and assumed correctly that as soon as West was gone that Strong's name would immediately pop up in national columns, blogs and message boards.

Strong has never been a head coach but his defenses at Florida helped the Gators win national championships in 2006 and 2008. UF's current defense is ranked No.1 in the SEC and No.2 nationally. Strong was asked about his desire to become a head coach on Wednesday and Strong offered reporters a canned response, which is now becoming an annual event.

"I just have to work and continue to do this job right now," Strong said. "My whole focus is making sure our defense goes out and plays well."

Strong is from Arkansas, which is only a river away from Memphis, so it's possible he could be in the running to replace West. Another possible candidate for the Memphis gig could be former Auburn coach Terry Bowden, who is now coaching at North Alabama.

Florida coach Urban Meyer addressed the topic on Wednesday during the Southeastern Conference media conference call. According to Meyer, he speaks with his coaching staff every summer about waiting until after the season to pursue coaching positions elsewhere.

"Charlie is more than a coach; we're very good friends and our families are very close; we've been that way since the mid-90s when we were both together at Notre Dame," Meyer said. "Every year we go away on a retreat as a coaching staff and I always talk about when you're at Florida that's part of the deal, however, you're loyalty is to this football team, these players and this program.

"Once the season is over, then let's handle this professionally: the interviews and other stuff and the phone calls, because people call them. We have quality coaches. I lost five in two years. I love Charlie and he's obviously a tremendous coach. I did talk to him this summer and had a brief conversation and ... he said the focus is through December, or whenever the season is over."

Even South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier had something to say about Strong's name being floated as a possible head coach. The Gators play at South Carolina on Saturday.

"We're hoping Charlie gets one of those head coaching jobs that's open right now," Spurrier told The State newspaper. "I see his name mentioned all the time and he's certainly deserving."

Memphis is a good fit for Strong. He has never been a head coach and starting out at Memphis, where he wouldn't be expected to win immediately, seems like an ideal situation.

-jo-

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• UM's offense, under Mark Whipple, has such an NFL approach that Whipple gave Travis Benjamin the routes run by Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson, and Leonard Hankerson the routes run by Pittsburgh's Hines Ward. (Whipple worked for the Eagles and Steelers.)

``Coach Whipple treats us like pros, talks about the Steelers and Eagles quite a bit,shows us how Philadelphia ran plays to perfection,'' Graham said. ``He says, `If you were in the league, we would just fine you $10,000.' '' Whipple can appear agitated after offensive miscues. ``The looks on his face are intimidating'' but his words are``encouraging,'' Harris said.

CFL, college stats, criminals, special teams = UF football


NFL = Miami football

Spurrier is smart, he wants Strong to take the Memphis job, because when Meyer goes to Notre Dame for $6 million a year, guess who's coming back to Gainesville.... (hint: he currently coaches the Gamecocks)

I assume Meyer was talking about the regular season. If Strong takes any coaching job he should be entitled to start assembling his staff like any other coach in waiting right after the SEC CG.

Mullen began his new job at Miss. State after the SEC CG, and then returned for the NCG if I'm not mistaken. I believe Meyer did the same to Utah, missing their bowl game as well. Funny how Meyer is calling on Charlie to honor a commitment that he did not fulfill at two different schools!

Was it beneath Meyer to acknowledge all of the great accomplishments Charlie has brought to UF while he has been there? Charlie deserved a HC position before Mullen! Charlie IS the reason that UF is now recruiting South Florida.

Who would you guess is going to be his replacement Jo if he does leave? Will it hurt recruiting? To be continued...

This is like a car chase on Cops! Mullen was the first wheel they "shot" out, then they "spiked" the second wheel (Harvin & Murphy) a couple of blocks later! Sparks are flying as the car (team) is still trying to push forward on two good wheels and two rims! Even the best chase will end if UF loses another wheel (Stong)! They'll total the car (team) if the 4th wheel falls off (recruit's)!

Hello Urban, the Pope is on line 1!

It's all on the wheel, what goes around, comes around!

Wow, that was a detailed metaphor there, PB&jay. Bad boys, bad boys, watcha gonna do, watcha gonna do when ... Memphis hires away one or two?

Err, sorry for that.

While I think Strong deserves a shot at being a head coach, I still think it's a long shot. Who knows? Maybe I'm wrong. Nothing against Charlie. It's just that ADs seem to place a priority on offense these days. I will say this, the BIGGEST problem up in Memphis seemed to be a lack of leadership and discipline by its former head coach, Tommy West. I'll never forget covering the New Orleans Bowl two years ago (FAU vs. Memphis) and Memphis players being out on Bourbon Street until 4 a.m. every night of the week leading up to the game. (Uh, yeah, guess I just incriminated myself. Whoops! Just being a thorough reporter.) FAU smoked Memphis. Wasn't even close. I think Charlie can definitely bring some much needed discipline to the program. Of course, being a UAB grad, I'd have to root against Strong in the nationally famous BBQ Bowl (UAB vs. Memphis rivalry game).

As for a possible replacement for Strong, Meyer would probably hand the defensive coordinator duties to either Dan McCarney (assistant head coach, defense) or Chuck Heater (assistant defensive coordinator) and then go looking for a quality linebackers coach. (Strong coaches linebackers.) Replacing Strong's ability as a recruiter would be difficult.

If I was Meyer, I'd seriously consider hiring Geoff Collins, the second-year linebackers coach at UCF. Collins is also the Knights' recruiting coordinator. He's an up-and-comer in the coaching ranks. Before UCF, Collins was the director of player personnel at Alabama for one season and helped deliver one of the Crimson Tide's best recruiting class in school history. Before that, Collins did the same at Georgia Tech with a recruiting class that was ranked 11th nationally and first in the ACC.

-jo-

If Strong becomes a head coach he is looking for a job a little better than Memphis. High profile, facilities already in tact type that didn't have to spend money creating a program. I don't believe these would be Charlie's strengths.

Right now Strong has a $325k base salary. With incentives defensive statistical ratings, SEC Championship, National Championship it gets closer to $500k. Job security at UF is 100% certainty. At a school like Memphis he could be out in 3 years.

Charlie is a good but not great recruiter. Other schools have used him with defensive recruits as a reason not to go to Florida by saying he is leaving and that you may not know your DC.

In the past few years the jobs I have heard him linked to are: UK, Ark, Miami,Clemson, USCe and UVA. Right now UVA and USCe are the only possibilities in the next 12-18 months.

Would Spurrier consider coming back to UF, semi-retiring and coaching the UF offense under Urban Meyer? Dan McCarney would slide to DC or could be co-DC with Heater who is an up and coming coach.

Lastly if Meyer stays say 6 more years, Charlie could be the next head coach at UF. A program already built. He brings passion, desire, discipline, and a defensive system. Then he can bring on a great offensive coach to the staff.

Lastly if Meyer stays say 6 more years, Charlie could be the next head coach at UF. A program already built. He brings passion, desire, discipline, and a defensive system. Then he can bring on a great offensive coach to the staff.


STRONG! No pun intended

drtycane,

Thanks for the update. What was the reason Whipple is not coaching in the NFL again? Oh yeah, he took a low paying UM job as opposed to all the NFL offensive coordinator jobs that he was offered because he had SWAGGER.

KO,

Seriously, how do you already know Strong's strengths and weaknesses? People, coaching is like any other profession. Most of the time, you have to start out at the bottom and work your way up. That's the way it is. If Strong is looking to be a head coach, then he's just looking to be a head coach. If Memphis offers him a job as a head coach he's not going to turn it down so he can be the DC at Florida. Lawyers want to make partner. Reporters want to be columnists. Coaches want to be head coach.

-jo-

Thanks for the update. What was the reason Whipple is not coaching in the NFL again? Oh yeah, he took a low paying UM job as opposed to all the NFL offensive coordinator jobs that he was offered because he had SWAGGER.


he was UNEMPLOYED

Actually Memphis does have some pretty good talent. They have been getting D1 transfers over the past few years. Look at McNeal, he leads the team in rushing yards this year. McNeal was riding the bench at UM last year, not to mention the other kids that have transfered to Memphis. So it wouldn't seem to me like a bad idea.

Drtycane,

I just checked. There are 44 active UM players in the NFL. UF has 35 and is winning championships, better facilities, and full stadiums but DA U has SWAGGER.

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