Louisville Cardinals Make Charlie Strong Highest Paid African-American Head Football Coach Ever

By M. Shannon Smallwood
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Today is a historic day for both the Louisville Cardinals football program and its head coach Charlie Strong, as both agreed on an eight-year extension that is worth $3.7 million per season.

And with Strong’s signature on the contract he will become the seventh-highest paid coach in college football, and will become the highest-paid African-American coach…


Yes, the game has come a long way since 2005, when two-thirds of African-American coaches in all of college football were battling each season as the UCLA Bruins faced the Washington Huskies. But neither Karl Dorrell or Tyrone Willingham lasted too long. In fact, up until 2005, there had only been 21 African-American head coaches…


Even when president Barack Obama took office in 2009, there were only four African-American head coaches in all of college football.

But fast forward to 2012…

This past season alone saw four African-Americans leading their teams into the BCS Rankings and finishing in the Top 25.

Strong, 52, had humbly and diligently done his job at each school as an assistant waiting for his chance to take control of his own program. Louisville gave him that opportunity in 2010 and after an 11-2 2012, including a huge victory in the AllState Sugar Bowl over the Florida Gators every school came calling.

Everyone knew Strong’s dream was to coach in the SEC. But when all the chips were laid out on the table and Strong took a step back, he saw that he already had his dream job, and everything he had ever wanted from a place to call home.

And today, Louisville officially made the program Strong’s. It is not only a historic day for Strong and Louisville, but for Eddie Robinson and every African-American coach that has followed in his footsteps.

And with Louisville calling the ACC home in 2014, there is no doubt the Cardinals are going to be Strong for decades to come.


M Shannon Smallwood is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the US Basketball Writers Association.

Follow him @woodysmalls.

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