Jurich On Keeping Strong: 'The Only People I Can't Compete With Are The NFL'

The read of the day on this gorgeous Friday comes from Sports Illustrated's Pete Thamel, who takes a look at Louisville football's rapid return to national prominence and the relationship between head coach Charlie Strong and athletic director Tom Jurich.

Thamel starts by talking about the hiring of Strong, and the state of Cardinal football when he arrived in Louisville. It's a section that includes Jurich talking more directly about the previous regime than I think we've ever hear before.

In the fall of 2009, it became obvious that coach Steve Kragthorpe's career at Louisville was sputtering to an end. A 4-8 season left him just 15-21 over three years, and Jurich had seen enough.

"I thought he'd be a can't-miss," said Jurich, who'd seen Kragthorpe resuscitate a flat-lined Tulsa program. "And, obviously, I made the wrong move."

With uncertainly surrounding the Big East's future and a program spiraling since an Orange Bowl win in 2006, Jurich needed a dynamic hire to put Louisville in the best position for conference realignment. "Our home," said Jurich, "was dissolving right out from under us."

The story then moves to the relationship between Jurich and Strong, one which actually started with a simple dinner in the 1990s. Now, Jurich has made someone he never knew before that dinner one of the highest-paid coaches in all of college football.

Strong's latest contract also shows just how committed the coach is to Jurich, the man who finally offered him a chance. Strong's deal includes a significant buyout -- $5 million for 2013 -- that should scare off most collegiate suitors. (The buyout decreases every year.)

"We're going to do everything within our power to keep anyone," Jurich said. "I was prepared to match anyone. Probably the only people I can't compete with are the NFL."

That financial commitment expands to assistant coaches. Both Virginia Tech and USC tried to court offensive coordinator Shawn Watson in the offseason. He stayed at Louisville, agreeing to a two-year deal worth nearly $500,000 per season.

"It's all about, is your AD or your university providing you with every resource possible to be successful?" Strong said. "Tom Jurich will."

The piece goes on to discuss this year's team and Strong's relationships with his players. It's really worth your time.

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