Mike Sanford's status on coach Charlie
Strong's Louisville coaching staff remains in flux.
Strong said Monday that he has not met with the Cardinals
apparently former offensive coordinator, who did not travel with
the team for this weekend's 14-7 loss at North Carolina. Strong
said he plans for Sanford to remain on staff, however, it is
unclear what his role will be.
Strong shifted play-calling duties to quarterbacks coach Shawn
Watson for Saturday's game against the Tar Heels and Watson will
continue in that role for the rest of the season. He cited Watson's
knowledge of the team's signal callers as a key reason for the
switch and felt the move would make his program better.
Sanford, who did not speak reporters at practice last Tuesday
and Wednesday, was unavailable for comment on Monday.
Strong said he has not assigned a new role to Sanford yet but
that the two will speak soon before the team begins preparations to
travel to Cincinnati on Saturday.
"The decision I made at that time was what I thought was in the
best interest of this program for us to move forward," Strong
said. "It's just like you and your business, you in your
profession: people are reassigned all the time. I just felt that it
would make our team better, it would make our program better."
The Louisville coach reiterated a message he delivered following
Saturday's game that rumors of a physical or verbal confrontation
between he and Sanford were untrue. He felt confident the two could
find an area where his former lead man on offense could still
impact the team.
"We'll hash it out. We're both professionals, we're both
adults. We'll get it worked out," Strong said.
Strong said he never addressed Sanford's absence from practice
last week to his team and that none of his players asked about the
"I think as a coach if you make a big deal out of it, then they
feed off the coaches. Nothing was ever said. So everything just
went about the business. No kid ever said one word."
Strong has pushed to revitalize an offense that ranked 105th of
120 FBS in scoring going into the North Carolina game. They now sit
112th after putting up a single touchdown against the Tar Heels.
Last year's Sanford-led unit led the Big East in rushing but has
yet to produce a 100-yard rusher in 2011 behind a young and banged
up offensive line.
Louisville's defense ranks 13th nationally in scoring defense
but opponents have repeatedly extended drives by converting 42
percent of third downs.
"Our defense needs to get the ball and shorten the field for
our offense but we haven't done a good job of that yet," Strong
said. "We need to shorten the field and get some turnovers."
The Cardinals begin their Big East schedule Saturday against
Cincinnati and Strong said conference play gives his team an
opportunity to refocus and finish out the season well.
"Each week you never know," Strong said, recounting conference
upsets that have already happened this season. "You have to come
and play. Anybody can win this conference. That's the message our
players have to understand, you just have to go play."