The Sugar Bowl is tonight and the coaches are making their final preparations before heading into the Superdome. However, when Louisville coach Charlie Strong steps foot on the turf, he will recognize a lot more faces than just the players dressed in white. Strong was the defensive coordinator at Florida before he left for Louisville in 2009.
Strong says it was a special time at Florida.
“It was a special time for me. I really built my career there. It was great wins, great losses but you always learn from it, and I was able to develop and become a really good football coach because of my experience there.” He has also had a hand in recruiting many of the senior Florida players.
“I guess, what really hasn’t hit me yet is I haven’t seen many of the players. So when I walk into the stadium for the first time and look across the sideline and see many of those players you were able to recruit, then it really hits you. Then once you hear the band rev up, and they start playing the different songs that you’re so familiar with…it will be something special.”
Strong says even his team will recognize many of the opposing faces.
“A lot of the players on our team are from the state of Florida, so they know who they’re going up against. The focus and where we need to be, they understand that’s the University of Florida and the Southeastern Conference and who we are going up against.”
Strong worked under Ron Zook, and he was the only assistant coach to stay on staff when Urban Meyer took over the program in 2005. He helped lead Florida to two national championships in 2007 and 2009, and received many accolades during his time there. When Strong took over the Louisville program, the Cards were just finishing up a disappointing 4-8 season. Strong has rebuilt the program over the past three years, taking Louisville to its first BCS bowl game since 2006 and earning the 2012 Big East Coach of the Year title.