Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Chalk Talk - Charlie Strong's coaching tree

Recommended Posts

submitted Today, 12:44 PM in Texas Longhorns Football By Coleman Feeley

In football, a coach’s pedigree is almost as important as his success. In many ways a coach’s pedigree will determine the amount of success he has. Mack Brown was a student of Barry Switzer and Jerry Stovall; and Charlie Strong was a student of Lou Holtz and Urban Meyer – great teachers of the game. The experience a new coach gains from a boss or a peer is often referred to as a “Coaching Treeâ€.

Coach Strong began his journey into college football as a player for the University of Central Arkansas playing in the defensive backfield. After college ball and with his eye firmly fixed on landing a coaching job, he accepted a Graduate Assistant (GA) position for the University of Florida. As a GA he assisted with multiple position groups and worked under head coach Charley Pell. In Coach Strong’s first season at the University of Florida he was a part of a 9-2-1 campaign that ended with a victory in the 1983 Gator Bowl. After a short stint at Texas A&M, Coach Strong landed his first official (meaning paid) coaching position at the University of Southern Illinois, coaching Wide Receivers under Coach Ray Dorr. After the 1987 season, Dorr parted ways from Southern Illinois in order to accept a coaching position at USC, and as is often the case when head coaching changes are made, it was time for Coach Strong to find a new home.

In 1988 Coach Strong accepted a position coaching outside linebackers and returned to The University of Florida under Coach Galen Hall. Coach Hall had been the offensive coordinator for the University of Florida while Charley Pell was in charge (are you starting to see the trunk of the tree?). During Coach Strong’s second stint at Florida, the Gators ended up with a 9-1-1 season, resulting in the first-ever Southeastern Conference championship.


The Gators however were still suffering from sanctions imposed by the NCAA (involving recruiting) and in 1990 Coach Strong left to coach wide receivers at Ole Miss under Coach Billy Brewer. In 1990, the Rebels narrowly missed the SEC championship by losing to Tennessee and appeared in the Gator Bowl against the Michigan Wolverines. After a single season with Ole Miss, Coach Strong returned, once again, to the University of Florida under their new head coach, Steve Spurrier.

During Coach Strong’s tenure with Steve Spurrier the Gators went 40-10. Coach Strong was responsible for defensive ends from 1991-1993 before being named Assistant Head Coach. In his new role, Strong took responsibility for coaching the defensive tackles.

In 1995, the University of Notre Dame and Lou Holtz offered Coach Strong a position coaching the defensive line, which Strong accepted. Holtz had been at Notre Dame since the 1986 season and consequently coached against Strong in the 1991 Sugar Bowl. Coach Holtz instantly formed a bond with Coach Strong saying that his charismatic personality and strong work ethic allowed him to trust Strong immensely. This respect was proven again in 1999 when Coach Holtz was offered the Head Coaching job at South Carolina, where Holtz subsequently hired Strong as the Gamecock’s defensive coordinator.

Fast forward a few years to 2002 when Ron Zook offered Strong an opportunity to come back to Florida and become the Defensive Coordinator/ Assistant Head Coach. Coach Zook was formerly the defensive coordinator at Florida from 1991-1993. Through Strong’s seven year stay at Florida (2003-2009) his title changed multiple times, including being the interim head coach during a portion of the 2004 season.

Fast forward again to 2010 – Coach Strong accepted his first head coaching position at the University of Louisville, and began creating his own coaching tree. His first defensive coordinator was a man named Vance Bedford, who worked for Strong in 2008 and 2009 at Florida coaching cornerbacks. His offensive coordinator was Mike Sanford, who coached quarterbacks for Notre Dame while Coach Strong was there. After releasing Coach Sanford, Charlie Strong hired Shawn Watson.

While it may be a “small worldâ€, the world gets much, much smaller in the realm of college football. Coaches depend on their assistants to keep the team moving in the direction they have planned. Without reliable, successful assistants, a head coach is sure to fail. Reliable and successful coaches almost always influence their disciples, creating well known coaching trees, if not coaching forests.

Coach Strong is a very accomplished coach, but he likely was unaware that the company he kept along the way was going to be so famous in college football. It remains to be seen if Strong will have as much success as Steve Spurrier, Lou Holtz, Urban Meyer, or Mack Brown, but the pedigree is there. Texas fans are hoping the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Being surrounded by successful people is usually a winning formula. Coach Strong seems to be a man of great integrity with a passion to mold successful young men. Winning starts with the right mentality with coaching and with the ability to mentor the players. Can't wait for the on field product to catch up with Coach Strong's efforts. Nice piece Coleman.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


Our Affiliation


Quick Links

  • Create New...