BOZICH and CRAWFORD | Q&A with Charlie Strong - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH and CRAWFORD | Q&A with Charlie Strong

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As part of University of Louisville media day, Cardinals' coach Charlie Strong sat down with Eric Crawford and Rick Bozich for 15 minutes of discussion. (Strong also sat down with WDRB's Steve Andress, Tom Lane and John Lewis for 10 minutes. That video is in the player above.)

Here's a transcript of part of Eric and Rick's discussion:

ERIC CRAWFORD: What did you do this summer? You obviously have work and appearances. Did you do anything fun? Did you have a vacation?

CHARLIE STRONG:
You know what, I didn't have a vacation. And the reason why is my daughter Haley plays volleyball. She was in Orlando at a tournament and ended up tearing her ACL. That was like June 28 or June 29, so it was the last game, last match. So when she got back here she had surgery. We were going to go to California, but we lost the vacation. So she had surgery, and she's been rehabbing the whole time.

RICK BOZICH: What were you going to do? Go out there and explore and relax?

STRONG:
We were going to go out to San Diego because we've never been, and we have some friends out there and go visit with them. But with what happened to her, it was like, okay, we'll just sit here. Not that I care, because I had a chance to come in the office every day.

BOZICH: Can you get away from it? Do you ever?

STRONG:
You know, it's hard to get away from. I think, just because of social media and so much is happening with the guys now, not that you want to smother them, but you want to know what's happening, you want to feel like you're on top of it, where it doesn't hit you in the face. All of a sudden something comes down and you weren't aware it was going on. A lot of times, if you're around a team, you know a lot of what's happening.

CRAWFORD: It's scary, I suppose, what can happen with social media. Any little thing can blow up on you, can't it?

STRONG:
Any little thing. And in the summer is when it really happens because they have a lot of time on their hands. And our players are here in summer school, so they're all here, and there's a lot going on. And now that you start winning some games a lot of people want to be a part of the program, and a lot of people are pulling them different directions, and you want to make sure they're around the right people and hearing the right messages.

CRAWFORD: We noticed that, just with media day. The crowd is twice as big.

STRONG:
Practice. Look at practice. Oh my God.

CRAWFORD: Two days of crowds like that, and you have music playing and all that -- had you ever done music at practice?

STRONG:
Yeah, you know what I did? Last season I started the music. And the reason is that I can get them to concentrate. If it's loud, and then a coach is yelling at them, then they have to listen to me. But if there's no music, you can yell at them across the field and they just kind of look at you. But now if I yell at them, they've got to come to me. Think about it. They always have it playing anyway. On game day, every player is sitting at his locker with a headset on, bobbing his head. So I just decided, play it all the time.

BOZICH: Who gets to pick the music?

STRONG:
Oh, I let them pick it. Just as long as it's clean cut. We change it up. As long as it's clean.

CRAWFORD: So you had 2,000 people out there for practice the first two days. Today you go out and it's just you, and just the players. How different will it be?

STRONG:
(Laughs) And they have pads on. Today won't be as fun for them. It'll be great though, because we can start moving our team in the direction we want. It'll be good.

BOZICH: You seem relaxed, happy, upbeat. Is that a fair assessment?

STRONG:
Yeah, now that you've been here four years, you kind of know what you have. Your first class is your senior class now. You feel like, we've built these kids, and we tried to make sure that they do the right things. They're our kids, and now they're seniors. I was looking at it. Philon, Kam Joyer, Copeland, Durant, and Champ Lee, there's five guys that are fifth-year guys. Those are Kragthorpe guys, the last five. And we've got 14 seniors, so nine are guys we brought in.

BOZICH: Do you have a special bond with those guys?

STRONG:
Yeah. There's Preston Brown, who you feel very comfortable with. Jarred Davis, a wide receiver. B.J. Butler there. I looked at that group of guys and thought, wow, that's amazing. It's more than 14 because I didn't put the walk-ons in with them. But just to look at the scholarship guys, you think, wow, what a group. It was our first class, when we walked in here. We were just trying to piece a class together. Just, throw it together, where we going, who we got? Some were already committed and we had to get some more.

CRAWFORD: So when you came into the office during the summer, you want to keep yourself sharp, and your coaches, what do you do?

STRONG:
I try to do this every year, sit down and think about how I can improve and get better. Not only with the players but also with the coaching staff. One thing we try to do, well, we don't try to do it, we do it, is right before we start spring practice I do a retreat. And our coaches get up and they teach. I always tell them, it's not a matter of us going outside to get information, we have information right here. So offensively, I'll have Vance critique the offense, then Watson critiques the defense. Then Hurtt critiques the offensive line and Borbs critiques the defensive line. So we break down each position. And then the coaches, I give them a topic and they have to present a topic to the staff. I tell them, coach us like we're a player.

BOZICH: What kind of topics?

STRONG:
Strategy. I might say, if you're a linebacker coach, give us a talk on how to take on a blocker. Or with Borbs I might say, coach us on how to fit a running game, your footwork. Then in summer, it's motivation. I might have somebody do a talk on, "How do you handle expectations?" Which is one we did. Or tell us exactly what CARDS stands for -- Commitment, Attitude, Respect, Discipline -- and I want to hear about where you stand and present that to the staff. So go technique in the spring, and in June we'll go motivation, and then the last week before camp starts, in July, we come back with technique. We go to a retreat. Guys have 45 minutes and they can use an visual they want and do anything they want, and if it isn't done right, then timeout, let's redo that, start over, or come back tomorrow and redo it.

BOZICH: Are you hard on your assistant coaches?

STRONG:
I try not to be, but they're hard on themselves. But I always look at it like this, if we're not coaching fundamentals and technique, then we have no chance. Because the scheme is fine. I say, let me tell you fellas, everybody's got a scheme. Schemes don't bother me. Whatever. If you have good players, you'll have a good scheme. But you've got to coach those guys, and you've got to coach them on fundamentals, and you've got to coach them on proper technique. You've seen a lot of good football teams lose games because they were poorly coached. And I don't want anybody ever to say that about us -- that's a good football team but they're poorly coached. That could very easily happen to us this year. This season, I think about USC last year. Barkley -- Teddy. They had a transfer running back in from Penn State, we just had a running back transfer in. Wide receiver? They had them all. Think about those wide receivers they had. We got the same wide receivers. Defensively? They had a good defense. And look what happened to them.

BOZICH: You said that to your players or coaches?

STRONG:
I'm going to talk about it with our players, but I said it to our coaches today.

BOZICH: Yeah, they didn't even finish in the top 25 and Barkley didn't go in the first round.

STRONG:
And they started No. 1. And they didn't even finish in the top 25. That could be us. You look at it, if we allow that to happen, that will be us. Let's not become the USC of this season.

CRAWFORD: I want to ask about Clint Hurtt. None of us knows what will happen to him, and he has this past with Miami, but everyone here, coaches and players love him. What do you see happening, and do you think you can hold onto him?

STRONG:
Well I want to hold onto him. What happened is he sat down with Tom and I and he told us the whole story, and we believed what he told us. I told Tom, the whole time he's been here, we've had no issues. He's a great recruiter, he's a great family man, and our players absolutely love him. I told Tom I wanted to do everything possible to back him. Even when he took a leave of absence, I said I'm not going to hire anyone, I'll coach the defensive front myself, I just want to make sure that he gets a chance to go before the committee of infractions and state his case, and he did a great job. So now we just wait on a final ruling.

BOZICH: And what happens if the NCAA comes down with some kind of penalty, will you stick with him or hire someone?

STRONG:
Well, then the university would have to decide what we're going to do.

Kenny Klein knocks, and time is up.

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