Like many of you, I watched the Charlie Strong saga over the weekend with a great deal of interest and bemusement. I was especially intrigued by the comments by Louisville AD Tom Jurich who said that he considered the job a “destination job”. While Jurich and Strong have done a great job in improving the Louisville situation, it is far from a “destination job”. The claim that Louisville is a “destination school” for football was flat-out ridiculous. UL is not close to being a destination. And neither is Kentucky. Not by a long shot. But with the enthusiasm and change in culture Mark Stoops has brought to Kentucky, I began to wonder if Stoops can make Lexington a destination job. Or if Kentucky can make it an attractive enough school to keep Stoops from making it a “stepping stone” and leaving at the first whiff of sustained success.
First, we have to go over what my definition of a destination job. For me, it is a school where a coach will set up shop and never want to leave for any reason. It’s a place where he can recruit and be a consistent winner. It’s a job that can give him a shot at being in contention for a National championship. It’s a place where he does not have to get out and sell tickets because he has a fan base that will fill the stadium. It’s a place where he has an administration that is willing to give the program that is willing to keep a “hot name” coach from leaving and is willing to give the coach what he needs to be able to have the best facilities. And if that coach decides to leave, it is a place where you can name your coach because everyone will want to go there.
Despite Jurich’s claims. Louisville is far from being a destination job. But with the team moving to the ACC, Charlie Strong could have made it one with a few more solid seasons. Or at least put it on the path to being one. Instead, Strong used it as a stepping stone to a better job and he was extremely lucky to land at a destination school after only four years as a head coach.
My first requirement for a destination school is that it has to be a place to compete for a national title. That leaves out all the non – BCS schools. Kentucky is lucky enough to be in the SEC, but that in itself does not make it a destination school. In my opinion, Alabama, Florida, and LSU are the only destination schools in the SEC. There are other schools that while not a destination job, are a job where you can hire a coach and feel relatively sure he is not going to leave … unless a destination school calls. Those teams are Georgia, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Auburn a step or two below. As of now, Kentucky is not even in the conversation.