Charlie Strong, Mark Stoops and James Quick

Charlie Strong was the hot topic last night on twitter. Instead of basking in the glow of his team's Sugar Bowl invitation, the Louisville coach fumbled his way through a clumsy press conference in which Strong knocked his fans, complemented his arch-rival and basically refused to say he would be the Cardinals' head coach in 2013.

The performance synched with rumors that Strong has interviewed for two SEC openings, in Tennessee and Auburn. He has hotly denied both, but rumors are rumors and semantics. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said defensive coordinator Mark Stoops had not interviewed with Kentucky when clearly he had and we know how that turned out.

We also know that Strong gave his rival's new coach a welcome gift basket Monday by saying he wished Louisville fans supported their football program the same way the BBN — Strong's term — supported UK's programs, especially football. Never mind that U of L outdrew UK this year and that lack of fan support is the main reason Joker Phillips is now the wide receivers coach at Florida.

Strong is a good, hard-nosed coach who has returned a physical identity and a winning culture to Louisville football. He's not good with the media, however. It's not a part of the job he enjoys particularly and it shows.

Only here's the thing: After spending Monday in Lexington, Stoops hits the road today to interview potential offensive coordinator candidates. Texas Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown, the former UK wide receiver, is on Stoops' list. I'm hearing there is a good chance the two will talk today. Brown coordinated the nation's No. 2 pass offense this past season.

And the top offensive recruit in Kentucky is James Quick, the 6-foot-1 wide receiver out of Louisville Trinity. Louisville is thought to lead for Quick's services, with Ohio State pushing hard and Kentucky trying to make up ground. But considering Strong's reluctance to give assurances he is staying at Louisville, if Stoops were to secure Brown, or another pass-oriented offensive coordinator, might Quick give more thought to coming to Lexington?

Coaches come and go, but at the end of the day it's all about recruiting. What better way for Stoops to start his tenure as UK coach than by stealing Quick from the Cardinals. With his press conference on Monday, Strong may have opened the door.

 

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