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.