The Volunteers reportedly offered Strong a contract worth $3.5 million a year, according to sources close with ESPN. This made his decision especially difficult because there were reports on Wednesday that Strong was debating on whether or not to take the offer. He chose to stick with Louisville and wait to receive a contract extension from the university.
Strong, who is currently in the third year of his five-year deal, worth about $2.3 million a year, will receive a substantial raise for choosing to stick with the Cardinals. He will be one of the highest paid coaches entering the ACC, according to Sports Illustrated.
Strong became Tennessee’s No. 1 focus after Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy turned down the Volunteers to stay put with the Cowboys. Tennessee was under the assumption that they were going to be able to lure Strong away on Monday, but that quickly changed Wednesday.
“All I’m gonna say is I’m not worried about my coach,” Louisville center Mario Benavides tweeted after Wednesday’s team meeting. “We are family.”
Strong’s name has surfaced for other coaching vacancies, such as the Auburn position. Auburn decided to hire Gus Malzahn earlier in the week.
Louisville athletic director Tom Jurich has made it clear several times that he is willing to do whatever it takes to keep Strong along the Cardinal sidelines.
Strong has amassed an overall record of 24-14 in his three seasons at Louisville. He led the Cardinals to a 10-2 record this year, a share of the Big East title and a BCS berth to the AllState Sugar Bowl against the Florida Gators on Jan. 2.
When asked Monday whether he could say definitively if he would be back at Louisville next season, he said, “I will say that at the right time.”
The right time will come at a Louisville scheduled news conference for 8 a.m. Thursday to announce his return to the Cardinals after turning down the Volunteers.