Mixed reaction of sadness and optimism from fans about Strong - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Mixed reaction of sadness and optimism from fans about Strong's departure

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- On this gloomy Sunday at the University of Louisville, the rain couldn't wash away the heartache. The chicken and beer at Clucker's restaurant near campus only helped numb it.

"It's heartbreaking, as soon as we heard about it, we had to start working for a minute. I was like ' nah man, I can't do it no more,'" said Chris Crawford, whose worked in the kitchen staff at the restaurant and bar for three months. 

The restaurant sits in the Cardinal Towne complex near the heart of campus, and was ground zero for campus celebrations during the men's basketball team's Final Four run and national championship win.

So when news broke that Charlie Strong would depart Louisville for the head coaching job at Texas, things in this Cardinals' fan haven didn't sit well.

"We went out last night to sort of wash away the pain so to speak. But there's still a lot they can do with the roster they have next year," said Cole Keller, a U of L student.

Keller spent part of Sunday with friends but Saturday night with some players - some of whom found out their football coach was leaving through posts on social media.

"Push comes to shove they weren't happy about it for sure. And especially the way they found out - it's not the most upstanding method," said Keller, referring to the fact that Strong did not meet with his players before departing for Austin, Texas.

It was shortly after Strong's departure was official that some fans announced in bold letters their pick of whom should coach the Cardinals next. The sign that read "Bring Back Bobby" was hung above the entrance to the Student Activities Center on the Belknap campus.  

"It was a big sign, man, it said Petrino," said Crawford.

The sign that was later removed referred to current Western Kentucky and former Cards Coach Bobby Petrino.

Athletic Director Tom Jurich described his relationship with Petrino as "fine," but wouldn't divulge names on the short of list of potential replacements for Strong.

"I'll consider everybody... Everybody is in play. I'll consider everybody," Jurich told reporters during a Sunday news conference.

Strong's departure has become a bitter bookend for fans after the so-called "Year of the Cardinal."

"It's been sort of a hangover to the year of the Cardinal," said Keller.

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