LOUISVILLE, Ky. --- Charlie Strong said after the game Saturday and during his weekly news conference Monday his plans were for offensive coordinator Mike Sanford to remain on staff and rejoin the team this week.
The Cardinals practiced Tuesday, and Sanford was nowhere to be found.
There are reports Strong and Sanford got into a heated exchange after Louisville's loss to Marshall Oct. 1, soon after leading to Strong stripping Sanford of play-calling duties. After the bye week, quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson took over those duties this past Saturday at North Carolina (14-7 loss). Strong said Monday Watson would keep play-calling duties the remainder of the season.
Strong also said Monday he had not met with Sanford since the team traveled to North Carolina and had not reassigned a coaching role to him.
Strong did say the two would speak soon before the team begins preparations to travel to Cincinnati Saturday, but those preparations are already well underway with Sanford noticeably absent from Tuesday's practice.
Strong was not made available to the media Tuesday, and Watson did not want comment further, when asked if he was surprised Sanford wasn't at practice, despite the head coach telling everyone he's still part of the staff.
"I'd rather not get into any of that, because I've been off on the periphery on that. I can't answer truthfully, so I'd rather not be put into that position, to be honest," said Watson, who insisted not much has changed in terms of preparing the offense without Sanford. "Collectively as a staff, we put together game plans. That hasn't changed. We work really well together, the staff, and we've just moved forward and put together our plans. We have a great working relationship in our room."
CBSsports.com initially reported Friday evening Sanford had, in fact, been fired by Strong. Neither Strong nor the school has confirmed that to this point.
Sanford is in the second year of a two year contract.
QB Will Stein "90-95%"
Quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson said Tuesday quarterback Will Stein is now 90-95% in his recovery from a shoulder injury suffered Sept. 17 against Kentucky. Stein has not played in either of Louisville's last two games versus Marshall and at North Carolina.
"Will for the first time this week is really back," said Watson. "I would say he's probably 90 to 95 percent, from what I've seen of him this week. So, I would expect Will to get some time this week."
As for who starts at Cincinnati Saturday? Hmm...
"Teddy (Bridgewater)'s presented a tough situation...it's a good situation, because he's played so well," said Watson. We'll play both guys. Again, how much? We'll continue to see where Will's at. I'd like to get some time for him in the game."
Stein's competition says the practice routine between the quarterbacks has gone back to normal too.
"The reps have been the same as when he wasn't hurt," said Bridgewater. "He'll get half, and I get half. It's a 50-50 thing."