Charlie Strong is set to be named the new head coach at Texas, culminating a very quick rise from SEC assistant to very famous coach. Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity knows Strong well, from their time together at Florida in the 2000s.
McGarity was an associate athletics director. Strong was the defensive coordinator under Ron Zook and then Urban Meyer. In 2010, Strong was named the head coach at Louisville, the same year McGarity was named the athletics director at Georgia, his alma mater.
Their paths were scheduled to cross the next year, when Louisville was set to visit Georgia to open the 2011 season, as the first part of a home-and-home, agreed to by previous Georgia A.D. Damon Evans. But McGarity backed out of the deal - largely because he wanted to make room for the Boise State game in the Georgia Dome.
But McGarity also made clear his respect for Strong by expressing his wariness in having to play his team, not just in 2012 in Louisville, but in that 2011 season opener in Athens. McGarity speculaated that opening with Louisville that year, with South Carolina one week away, was risky. Even though the Cardinals were coming off a 7-6 season, McGarity didn't want any part of the Louisville series.
“Charlie Strong, knowing him the way I do, he would have had Louisville come in and take care of business,” McGarity told me in August of 2011.
I filed that quote away, given the heat at the time on Mark Richt, and the possibility McGarity might be looking for a coach soon. Obviously Richt survived the hot-seat year, but if history had gone differently, I always felt Strong was one of the first people McGarity was going to call.