Names Louisville may consider if Charlie Strong leaves

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If Charlie Strong does leave for Texas, here are some names Louisville might consider as a replacement:

Jim McElwain: A former Louisville assistant under John L. Smith, McElwain was Nick Saban’s offensive coordinator at Alabama before becoming head coach at Colorado State. The 51-year-old from Missoula, Montana played quarterback at Eastern Washington where he lived just down the hall from ESPN radio personality Colin Cowherd. He was an assistant at Eastern Washington, Montana State, Louisville (2000-02), Michigan State (with John L. Smith) before moving to the NFL’s Oakland Raiders in 2006. He was offensive coordinator at Fresno State in 2007 before being hired by Saban in 2008. His two teams at Colorado State have gone 4-8 and 8-6.

Chad Morris: The Clemson offensive coordinator makes $1.3 million per season making him the nation’s highest-paid assistant coach. The 45-year-old Morris was a high school coach in Texas until being named offensive coordinator at Tulsa in 2010. He jumped to Clemson in 2011 where his spread attack has put the Tigers among the nation’s offensive leaders. Clemson beat Ohio State 40-35 in the Orange Bowl on Friday night.

David Cutcliffe: There were already unsourced reports Friday night that Louisville had reached out to the Duke coach. Would be hard to see the 59-year-old Cutcliffe starting over at a new school, especially another ACC school. But he is a terrific coach as this year proved when the former Tennessee offensive coordinator and Ole Miss head coach led Duke to a 10-4 record, the ACC title game and the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Matt Wells: The 40-year-old from Columbia, South Carolina went 9-5 in his first year as Jerry Andersen’s replacement at his alma mater, Utah State. Wells was passing game coordinator at Louisville in 2009 under Steve Kragthorpe. He has coached at Navy, Tulsa, New Mexico and Utah State before becoming the head coach there.

Pat Narduzzi: The 47-year-old Narduzzi has been defensive coordinator since 2007 at Michigan State, which beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl on Wednesday. The son of former UK assistant coach Bill Narduzzi, Pat played for his father at Youngstown State, then at Rhode Island. He was an assistant at Miami (Ohio), Rhode Island, Northern Illinois and Cincinnati before following Mike Dantonio to Michigan State. The Spartans finished the season No. 2 nationally in total defense behind Louisville.

Shawn Watson: Louisville’s current offensive coordinator played a huge role in developing quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who may be the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL Draft. The 54-year-old Watson played at Illinois and Southern Illinois and has been an assistant at those two schools, plus Miami (Ohio), Northwestern, Colorado and Nebraska before coming to Louisville in 2011. He went 11-22 as head coach at Southern Illinois from 1994-96.

Kirby Smart: The 38-year-old fro Montgomery, Alabama has been Alabama’s defensive coordinator since 2008. A defensive back at Georgia, Smart coached under former UK assistant Chris Hatcher at Valdosta State before moving on to Florida State in 2002. Nick Saban hired Smart to coach the defensive backs at LSU in 2004. Smart left for Georgia in 2005, then coached in the NFL with Saban and the Miami Dolphins in 2006. He has been at Alabama since 2007.

Bobby Petrino: Not happening.

Photo of Jim McElwain by Associated Pr

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