NCAA Football: Wisconsin at South Florida

Miami co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Charlie Strong will not return to the Hurricanes for the 2023 season, he confirmed to ESPN. Strong, 62, joined the Canes last offseason when coach Mario Cristobal was hired to replace Manny Diaz, but Strong was passed over for the program's solo DC gig this week when Cristobal instead hired Lance Guidry as defensive coordinator. 

"Coach [Mario] Cristobal and the program made a decision to go in a different direction. It's time for me to go in a different direction," Strong told ESPN.

Strong is the fourth assistant to leave Miami following a disappointing 5-7 (3-5 ACC) record in 2022. Co-defensive coordinator Kevin Steele departed to take the same role at Alabama, offensive coordinator Josh Gattis was fired, and quarterbacks coach Frank Ponce left to become the offensive coordinator at Appalachian State. Some believe Ponce would not have been retained either way.

Strong's only year in Coral Gables, Florida, left a lot to be desired. The Canes finished ninth in the ACC in total defense (375.2 yards per game), 13th in defensive yards per play (5.92) and 10th in scoring defense (26.8 points per game). They were the second-worst third-down defense in the conference, giving up first downs on 42% of opponent's opportunities.

Strong was 74-53 as a coach at the FBS level during stints at Florida (interim 2004), Louisville (2010-13), Texas (2014-16) and South Florida (2017-19). He was a defensive analyst at Alabama in 2020 and an assistant head coach and linebackers coach with the Jacksonville Jaguars under Urban Meyer in 2021.

Miami hired Guidry from Tulane to replace Steele on Tuesday. Guidry wasn't with the Green Wave for long. He made the jump to Tulane after coordinating the Marshall defense last season. The Thundering Herd defense led the Sun Belt in defensive yards per play (4.56) and scoring defense (16 points per game). 

Such significant turnover is unusual for a first-year coach at a program the caliber of Miami. This past season marked the Canes' second under .500 since 2014, when Al Golden stumbled to a 6-7 finish. That put him squarely on the hot seat, and he was subsequently fired following a 4-3 start to the 2015 season. That made it clear that sub-.500 seasons are unacceptable at Miami.

The divorce between Strong and Miami is also interesting considering the program's success on the recruiting trail. The Canes finished seventh in the 247Sports team rankings partly because Cristobal -- a strong recruiter himself -- brought Strong aboard to crank up those efforts. That clearly happened, so Strong no longer being on staff should be viewed as a step back considering how successful the duo was in Cristobal's first full recruiting cycle.