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Strong staying as Louisville football coach

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Strong staying as Louisville football coach

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Charlie Strong's decision to stay at Louisville is the second major coup for the Cardinals in eight days.

After reports linking Strong to several openings in the Southeastern Conference, he said Thursday that he wasn't going anywhere. Keeping the coach had become a priority for Louisville after announcing last week it will join the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014.

``I knew this would be a big opportunity,'' Strong said during a press conference at the Cardinals' football stadium. ``It was the best decision to stay here, continue to build a program and fulfill our dreams on the football field and in the classroom.''

Strong turned down an offer from Tennessee on Tuesday night to replace Derek Dooley, who was fired on Nov. 18. Strong had been in discussions with the Volunteers since last Thursday but did not provide any details of their offer.

Now that Louisville knows Strong is staying, athletic director Tom Jurich said they will begin re-negotiating the seven-year contract Strong received last year that currently pays him $2.3 million per season.

Jurich said Strong didn't use the Tennessee offer as leverage for a new deal and that they only began taking about it an hour before Thursday's press conference. Nonetheless, Jurich wants to work out a deal that will keep Strong at Louisville eight more years beyond this season and increase the salary of his assistant coaches.

Jurich admitted he has been a bit nervous these last few days. After Louisville announced its ACC plans, Jurich vowed to beat any offer made to his coach. But he didn't know for sure what Strong would do.

The AD said Strong's choice to remain with the Cardinals ``says that we're committed. But we've always been committed. Everybody always looks at us as a longshot, but we're not an underdog. I'm probably biased, but I truly believe that as of 7:40 last Wednesday morning when (ACC President) John Swofford called, this is a top-10 job in the country in football.''

At Louisville Strong became a coveted asset and his stock rose with the Cardinals' success.

Under Strong, the No. 22 Cardinals (10-2) won a share of the Big East Conference championship again this season and a BCS berth in the Sugar Bowl, where they'll face Florida. On Thursday he was named as the conference's coach of the year.

With his services in high demand, Louisville wanted to ensure he would stay - especially after announcing it is leaving the Big East, which is struggling to remain relevant in the constantly changing college football landscape.

``The stability of this program is always going to be solid and they're going to do everything to make this one of the best programs in the country,'' Strong said.

Strong's decision to stay with the Cardinals ends the flirtation with the SEC, where he spent much of his 29-year coaching career. He was defensive coordinator under Urban Meyer at Florida when the Gators won national championships in 2006 and 2008, the last of four stints in Gainesville beginning in 1983.

The Arkansas native was also considered a solid candidate to coach the Razorbacks before Strong's name came up in recent weeks for jobs at Auburn and eventually Tennessee, which made a hard push for the 52-year-old.

The lure of returning to the SEC was something Strong couldn't just dismiss.

He talked with the Volunteers for several days and appeared to be leaning toward heading to Knoxville.

``They made an offer (Tuesday) and I said I'd think about it and talk about it with my family,'' Strong said.

But in an environment when coaches are fired with winning records, Louisville's commitment to Strong last year played a major role in his decision to turn the Vols down. The Cardinals gave him his deal last year when the team was 2-4.

Thursday culminated what has been a whirlwind few days for Strong.

There were reports that linked him to the Auburn job and raised questions about Strong's future. The Tigers ended up hiring their former offensive coordinator and Arkansas State coach Gus Malzahn on Tuesday, a day after Strong was mentioned as Tennessee's top target.

On Monday, Strong held a bizarre news conference in which he managed to stir up more questions about his future when he didn't definitively say he would be staying at Louisville. He also criticized the Cardinals' fan base for their attendance at football games.

But when the dust settled Thursday, Strong decided to stay at the school that gave him his first head coaching job. He is 24-14 in three seasons at Louisville.

``You look at those jobs, but I have a great job here,'' Strong said. ``I have a great person that I work for, and I think that's what it comes down to. When you talk to an athletic director it's more about not only your job, but it's about your family and caring about your family. When they ask about your daughters, that's when you know they care more about you as a person.

``It became clear to me that it was best to stay in Louisville,'' Strong said. ``We haven't finished the job yet.''

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Early favorites for Wizards' 1st round pick; Mark Turgeon joins the show

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Wizards Tipoff podcast: Early favorites for Wizards' 1st round pick; Mark Turgeon joins the show

On the latest episode of the Wizards Tipoff podcast presented by Greenberg and Bederman, Chris Miller caught up with Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon at the NBA Combine.

Turgeon talked about his three draft-eligible players and what this time is like advising them. Chris and Chase Hughes also gave their early favorites for the Wizards' first round pick and their biggest takeaways from the NBA Combine measurements.

You can listen to the episode right here:

You can download the podcast on Apple Podcasts right here and on Google Play. If you like the show please tell your friends!

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Redskins G Arie Kouandjio likely out for the season

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Redskins G Arie Kouandjio likely out for the season

The news about Arie Kouandjio’s quad injury didn’t sound good when NBC Sports Washington broke it a couple of weeks ago. It didn’t sound any better when Jay Gruden said that they were seeking a second opinion. 

And now we have word that Kouandjio will be out for the season, per multiple media reports. While there was some initial hope that he might be able to play at some point this season, he is likely to be put on injured reserve soon. 

The corresponding move is expected to be the signing of guard Isaiah Williams, per JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington. He spent training camp with the Redskins in 2016 and 2017 before being released in the final cuts. Last year he also spent time with the Chiefs and the Colts but he has yet to appear in an NFL game. 

At worst, the Redskins have lost their starter at left guard. Kouandjio was set to compete with Shawn Lauvao for that job. Lauvao, who has been the starter at left guard going into the season for each of the last four years, would have been tough to unseat, but the 26-year-old Kouandjio may have had the inside track.

And at best, the Redskins lost experienced depth. Last year, when injuries hit hard along the offensive line, Kouandjio was re-signed and he started six games. It’s tough to lose experienced depth before the players even put pads on.

We will see if the Redskins make a move to shore up the guard position. Over the next couple of weeks, teams will be evaluating their veteran players and their rookies to see if they have younger and cheaper options. That could lead to some serviceable players getting released or some quality options being put on the trading block. 

The Redskins likely are set to get four compensatory draft picks in 2019, which would give them a total of 11 selections. They certainly could afford to deal one of those picks if they are offered a chance to upgrade at left guard. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Player one-liners, offense
- Tandler’s Take: Best- and worst-case scenarios for 2018
- The draft: Redskins should get 4 additional picks in 2019 draft
- Schedule series: Gotta beat the Cowboys

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.