Reports: Charlie Strong to join Alabama staff as defensive analyst

Former South Florida, Texas and Louisville head coach Charlie Strong is headed to Alabama as an analyst. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

Another prominent former head coach is headed to Tuscaloosa to work for Nick Saban. 

According to multiple reports, Charlie Strong will join Saban’s staff at Alabama as a defensive analyst, months removed from his firing at South Florida. Strong’s tenure at USF lasted just three seasons, and now he will be the latest former head coach to take such a role in Tuscaloosa. Others to do so include Steve Sarkisian, Mike Locksley and Butch Jones.

Strong, who visited Saban on Alabama’s campus last week according to ESPN, becomes the fourth ex-head coach working as an analyst on Saban’s current staff. Jones, Mike Stoops and Major Applewhite are the other three.

Strong, 59, was fired in December after a 4-8 season. USF went 10-2 in Strong’s first season with the program and got off to a 7-0 start in 2018. From there, however, the Bulls declined rapidly, losing 14 of their next 18 games. At one point, USF lost nine consecutive games against FBS opponents. 

It was the second straight time Strong lasted just three seasons at a school. Before landing at USF, Strong had a three-year tenure at Texas. During that time, the Longhorns had three consecutive losing seasons — 6-7, 5-7 and 5-7 — before Strong was fired. 

Strong’s first head-coaching gig was at Louisville, where he went 37-15 in four seasons. The Cardinals went 23-3 over Strong’s last two seasons with the program, a run that helped him land the UT job. 

Strong owed $3.1 million by USF

Following his dismissal at USF, Strong apparently had plenty of options for the 2020 season. According to ESPN, “several SEC schools” were interested in Strong’s services, including as a defensive coordinator. Some reports linked Strong to a possible return to Florida, where he had four stints as an assistant coach and was the defensive coordinator for national championships in 2006 and 2008. 

In the end, Strong decided Alabama was the best spot to get back on his feet while he collects the $3.1 million owed to him by USF. And since he is not taking an on-field coaching position at Alabama, Strong will presumably be paid in full. 

From the Tampa Bay Times:

The school owes him roughly $3.1 million as a result of a “supplemental compensation” agreement with the school’s private fundraising arm.

That agreement states that if Strong becomes employed in a “football coaching or management capacity” before Dec. 31, 2021, the total owed to him will be reduced by the amount equal to his new compensation. However, an analyst isn’t considered one of the 10 on-field assistant coaches allowed by the NCAA, and the role wouldn’t appear to be of a “management" capacity.

Will Strong get another head-coaching opportunity?

Some of the former head coaches who have worked as an analyst for Alabama were able to quickly find work. Sarkisian and ex-Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood are now full-time assistants for Saban, serving as offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, respectively.

Mike Locksley parlayed his analyst role into the Bama offensive coordinator job before becoming the head coach at Maryland. Will Strong be able to follow a similar path?

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