Very rarely does a team analyst position make nationwide headlines in the sport of College Football. On Tuesday, Alabama announces Charlie Strong hired as a defensive analyst for the Crimson Tide. The former Texas and South Florida head coach will officially join the Alabama Crimson Tide coaching staff. He joins the Crimson Tide for the upcoming 2020 College Football season. Coach Strong joins a highly successful defensive program after getting fired from South Florida after going 4-8 in the previous season. Strong comes to the Crimson Tide trying to revitalize his career as a defensive coach and head coach.
Strong needed a career revival
For seven seasons as the Florida Gators defensive coordinator (2003-2009), Strong created strong and highly efficient defenses. Three of the last four seasons at Florida (2006, 2008, and 2009), his defense ranked in the top-10 in scoring defense. The Gators won their second National Championship in 2006. Their defense ranked sixth in scoring defense (13.5 points allowed per game). The Gators won another national title two years later behind quarterback Tim Tebow and a defense that ranked fourth in points allowed per game (12.9). It became clear that Strong was a great candidate to become a head coach after a great 2009 season. That defense ranked fourth in points allowed per game (12.4). The Louisville Cardinal hired Strong to be their head coach in 2009.
In his two seasons with Louisville, Strong accumulated two separate 7-6 seasons. The following two seasons, Strong led the Cardinals to an 11-2 record in 2012 and 12-1 record in 2013. Strong got the opportunity of a lifetime to be the head coach of the Texas Longhorns in 2014. Pressure from the highly-established program and boosters caused Strong to underperform to standards in three seasons. Strong was fired after accumulating a 16-21 record in his tenure at Texas. Strong looked for a second chance as a head coach and chose to be the head coach of the South Florida Bulls. Expectations were high after Strong got the Bulls to a 10-2 season in his first year in 2017. Since then, the Bulls declined under Strong. The Bulls fired him after a 21-16 record in three seasons.
Strong taking a similar route to Steve Sarkisian
Strong took the role of defensive analyst for many reasons. One reason is the recent lack of consistency as a head coach that didn’t give him any attractive offers. There were potentially job offers to become a defensive coordinator at smaller schools than Alabama. Regardless, Strong is taking a measure of rebuilding his resume and becoming a part of one of the top college football programs under head coach Nick Saban. This is the same process that Sarkisian undertook. USC terminated Sarkisian five games through the 2015 season after violating the zero-tolerance policy that athletic director Pat Haden established. The following season in 2016, Sarkisian accepted an offensive analyst position with the Crimson Tide. This was a position that would not focus on coaching but rather to help create game plans and team measures for the 2016 season.
Strong is taking an analyst position in order to get coaching points and philosophy viewpoints from Saban. Much like Sarkisian learned under Saban in 2016, Strong has a chance learning and growing this offseason and 2020 season. After one season, coach Sarkisian took an offensive coordinator position from the Atlanta Falcons for two years. This analyst position that Strong has acquired is an unofficial rehab job for high-volume coaches to rebuild themselves. After several disappointing departures from as head coach of two programs, this job comes at the right time for Strong.
Future for Strong
This job will not be a permanent position for a smart and talented coach like Strong. Eventually, there will be more high-caliber teams that will offer him a defensive coordinator position. Whenever Saban acquires coaches and players to his team, there is always some extra contingency. Tide Nation didn’t approve of the job performance of the first-year full-time defensive coordinator Pete Golding this past season. Golding’s job security as a defensive coordinator isn’t in danger but Strong’s reliability as an experienced defensive-minded coach could be useful in case of coaching turnovers. Strong could potentially be the defensive coordinator of the Crimson Tide either as co-coordinator or as an assistant. Strong will be given much responsibility for getting the defense ready by analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of Alabama and other teams when the season starts.