Charlie Strong says his team needs more upperclassmen to be consider the Big East favorite, but media members disagree.
NEWPORT, R.I. (WDRB) – Here is what Louisville football coach Charlie Strong was served for breakfast Tuesday morning at Hotel Viking during Big East Football Media Day:
Juice, eggs, muffins and great expectations.
Word got to Strong early that his Cardinals team was the pick by 24 of 28 media members to win the 2012 Big East football title.
"Seriously?" Strong asked.
"What have we done?" Strong asked.
Start with finishing 2011 with gusto, when the Cards won five of their final six Big East games to win a share of the league title. Returning a string of talented offensive parts helps, led by quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The defense became formidable last season – and should improve. Solid recruiting is a factor. There is also respect for the work Strong has delivered the first two seasons, especially from other coaches in the league.
Still, Strong shook his head.
"If you look at it, we have nine seniors and the issue is going to be leadership," he said. "Any time you are picked to win the league, you have become a junior-senior team. We have not become a junior-senior team. We are still a very young football team. "
True. But only four of 28 voters disagreed with picking Louisville first. And they went with South Florida. Seriously? The Bulls were 1-6 in the Big East last season. Louisville won at South Florida, 34-24. Louisville looks considerably stronger than South Florida.
"I would still like to continue to downplay it," Strong said. "I would like to tell (my players) that these same guys picked you last two years ago and picked you seventh last year."
"What really has changed? In three years we have made the leap? We still can go play better."
Strong is correct. But he is also aware that pre-season chatter is simply a way of life for all coaches. Fans love it. After several challenging seasons, Louisville fans will embrace the news that the Cards can return to a BCS bowl game before the BCS system disappears.
"That's going to be a major issue," Strong said. "What is happening in Louisville is that 2006 is the last time we went to the Orange Bowl. I think a lot of (our fans) were around. They're looking back to ‘06, hoping that will occur again.
"That's good. It's great excitement for the fans. Most of the time fans are looking for bragging rights. Now they have those bragging rights."