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Strong turns down Tennessee

Charlie Strong has turned down the head football coaching position at Tennessee and chosen to stay with Louisville, leaving the Volunteers with no choice but to look forward and continuing looking.

Louisville football coach Charlie Strong

Strong turned down a UT offer that would have made him one of the nation’s highest-paid coaches but will now get a better contract to stay with the Cardinals, a source told govols247 Wednesday night.

Names linked with the Vols coach have included North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora, Cincinnati head coach Butch Jones and others.

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy, another coached linked to UT’s search, chose Wednesday to remain with the Cowboys.

Strong, 52, is arguably one of the nation’s most decorated assistant coaches from the past quarter-century and has been head coach at the University of Louisville the past three seasons.

A Batesville, Ark., native, Strong played at Central Arkansas from 1980-83 and then immediately jumped into his coaching career with a two-year stint as a graduate assistant at Florida. That would be the first of his four stints in Florida — a place he recruits very well — as he would return to coach outside linebackers in 1988-89, defensive tackles from 1991-94 and as defensive coordinator from 2002-09.

Strong was also assistant head coach at Florida from 1991-94, and assistant head coach and interim head coach at various times during his 2002-09 stop in Gainesville.

Despite spending a majority of his coaching career in Florida, Strong has been plenty of other places and generally enjoyed plenty of success in those places. He was a graduate assistant at Texas A&M in 1985, wide receivers coach at Southern Illinois from 1986-87 and at Ole Miss in 1990, defensive line coach at Notre Dame from 1995-98 and defensive coordinator at South Carolina from 1999-2001.

With a 24-14 overall record at Louisville, Strong has produced winning seasons all three seasons. His teams went 7-6 in each of his first two seasons before enjoying a breakout, 10-2 mark this year and earning a berth in the upcoming Sugar Bowl in New Orleans — against Florida, ironically.

A multi-time finalist for the Broyles Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top assistant coach, Strong earlier this month named Regional (Head) Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association.

The staff at govols247 will continue to monitor this developing story.

Contact Wes Rucker at wrucker@247sports.com, www.twitter.com/wesrucker247 or www.facebook.com/wesrucker247

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