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Charlie Strong  

Charlie R. Strong is an American college football coach and former player.

After waiting 27 years for an opportunity to be a head coach, Charlie Strong made the most of his first season by leading the Cardinals to a bowl game for the first time in three seasons and becoming the first Louisville coach to earn BIG EAST Coach of the Year accolades.

Strong led the Cardinals to a 7-6 record, but had the Cardinals playing hard and consistent football all season. Louisville was in every football game it played, losing six games by a total of 49 points.

Strong helped the Cardinals play great defense in his first season, guiding the Cardinals to a top 20 finish in total defense and ranking in the top 10 in sacks. Arguably one of the most revered defensive coaches in the country, Strong brings 27 years of collegiate coaching experience, two National Championships and 20 different appearances in bowl games to the sidelines at U of L.

He has also worked for three different head coaches who have won national championships in Florida's Urban Meyer, South Carolina's Steve Spurrier and former Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz.

During his head tenure at Florida, he has coached 13 All-Americans, a National Defensive Player of the Year, a Jack Tatum Award winner, two SEC Defensive Freshmen of the Year, two Thorpe Award finalists, two Nagurski Trophy finalists and the 2008 Chevrolet Defensive Player of the Year. He has developed seven first-round NFL Draft picks and 18 players that were selected in the third round or higher. This year, cornerback Joe Haden was the seventh pick in the NFL Draft to the Cleveland Browns, while Carlos Dunlap, Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham and Major Wright were all selected in the first three rounds

Strong comes to Louisville after spending seven seasons as the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida, including the last two as the Associate Head Coach. It was his fourth different stint at UF, having coached at Florida from 1991-94; 1988-89 and 1983-84. He served as Florida's interim head coach in 2004, falling to Miami 27-10 in the Peach Bowl.

In 2009, Strong guided one of the nation's top defensive units, finishing in the top five in four different statisitcal categories. UF was third in the nation in scoring defense (11.54 ppg), third in pass defense (151.46), fourth in total defense (253.08) and fifth in pass efficiency defense (93.91) in leading the Gators to a 12-1 record and a trip to the SEC Championship game for the third time in Strong's tenure as the defensive coordinator.

Five members of his 2009 defense earned first or second All-SEC accolades this season. Strong was named a finalist for the Frank Broyles Award, given to the nation's top assistant coach for the second straight year, and is the only second three-time finalist in the history of the award. Strong's defense in 2008 ranked in the top 20 nationally in 10 statistical categories, including a school-record tying 26 interceptions that also tied for the most in the country that season. UF's scoring defense showed the third-largest improvement from the 2007 season to the 2008 season, finishing fifth in the nation by yielding only 12.9 points per game.

His most impressive output of the season came in the 2009 FedEx BCS National Championship Game versus Oklahoma, who entered the contest with a nation's best 54.0 scoring average. The Gators held the highest-scoring offense in the history of college football and the Heisman-winning quarterback Sam Bradford to just 14 points and 363 total yards in Florida's 24-14 win to guide the Gators to their second national title in three years. For his outstanding work in 2008, Strong was named a finalist for the Broyles Award for the second time in his career. Strong also coached a group of linebackers that included consensus first-team All-American and repeat first-team All-SEC performer Brandon Spikes, who was a finalist for the 2008 Bronko Nagurski Award.

In his seven years at UF as defensive coordinator, the Gators intercepted 131 passes, the third-highest total in the nation and the most in the SEC during the last seven seasons. A tenacious recruiter, Strong was named one of the nation's top-25 best recruiters by Rivals.com for his part in inking the 2007 signing class that was ranked No. 1 by most outlets. He was also a vital part in helping Florida lead the SEC in rushing defense for the second straight season while surrendering only 103.3 yards per game, registering as the 10th-best nationally. In 2007, he also helped develop Spikes into a consensus first-team All-SEC selection.

It marked the first time since 1999 that a freshman or sophomore linebacker earned Coaches' First-Team All-SEC recognition. In 2006, Strong helped guide the Gator defense that limited opponents to a league best 72.5 rushing yards per game. That figure marked the second-lowest total in school history, and stood nearly 25 yards better than the next-best team in the SEC. The Gators' run defense ranked fifth nationally in 2006, while they rated sixth in the nation in total defense with an average of 255.4 yards per contest. Under Strong's watch, Florida set a BCS record for fewest yards allowed in their national title bout with Ohio State, yielding only 82 yards to better the previous record by 72.

Three members of the UF defense earned All-America recognition and six players received All-SEC honors in 2006. Since the 2003 season, Strong's defensive units have allowed an average of 17.6 points per game, which ranks ninth in the country over that span, have forced a mind-boggling 193 turnovers and an average of 308.6 yards per contest, From 1999-2002, Strong served as defensive coordinator at South Carolina, earning finalist honors for the Broyles Award in 2000. He guided the Gamecocks to a top-20 national ranking in total defense twice, while the 2000 squad ranked sixth in the country in scoring defense after yielding just 15.8 points per game. Strong also spent four seasons at Notre Dame, overseeing the defensive line on a defense that registered a single-season school-record 41.5 sacks in 1997.

A four-year letterwinner at the University of Central Arkansas, Strong was a three-time All-Conference selection in football and a two-time honoree in track. He is married to the former Victoria Lovallo, and the couple has two daughters, Hailee (12) and Hope (9), and one son, Tory (21).

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