Coach Strong made clear in the first minutes of the presser that he wasn't going to address coaching rumors and that he'll make a statement at the appropriate time (to be clear, if he was staying, case closed, this was the time). That's fine. Apparently he's not ready to rule out any possibilities regarding his coaching future; it's not in his job description that he must say things at all times to make Cardinals fans feel better. But I don't think it's asking too much to refrain from making Cardinal fans feel worse during anxious times.
And that's precisely what Coach did today by taking the fans to task for what he saw as low attendance figures during the Cards' sparkling 9-0 start. Even more disastrous, however, Strong expressed his wish that UofL fans act more like "Big Blue Nation" when it comes to supporting the team.
I've been digesting the comments in a couple of ways, and I must warn you, none of them go down easily. The way I see it, one way to interpret is that Charlie Strong flat out made a boneheaded comment. His train of thought ran off the tracks yet he kept going not realizing how he would come off. Strong is not the most media savvy man as he proved early this year with an ill-conceived 48 hour media "ban". What's worrisome about this is it would seem our coach is completely tone deaf about our program and its history, our community and its insecurities. The fact that he would use this time, one of should be joy and triumph, to instead throw a big hunk of red meat to our hated rivals that salivate over notching another "big brother" line shows an alarming lack of self-awareness.
Moreover, it refuses to acknowledge just how far the program has come, that UofL is currently boasting its greatest attendance in school history (49,000+) and from all accounts, are swarming to snatch up Sugar Bowl tickets. Those empty corner seats in the Papa are sure to fill out as the Temple's and FIU's give way to Florida State and Clemson in coming schedules. But that's one explanation, at least. That it was just a really stupid thing to say.
The other, I'm afraid, is even worse. It's the preemptive breakup move, Charlie's subconscious talking himself into what he's about to do, to try and justify himself by saying, "Well, if only the fans had been more supportive". This, to me, is the more likely explanation. It's clear he's not ruling out talking to other schools and he's making curious jabs in press conferences towards the fans. It's a far cry from what he could be saying, regardless if he should.
Bottom line, I don't think Charlie Strong knows yet where he's coaching next season. UofL has many pluses and minuses. Other schools do as well. What I do know, however, is that Cards fans deserve better while he figures it out.