It's likely that Louisville's head coach talked with someone connected to Auburn. Was it an interview? He says no.
Earlier today, AL.com's Charles Goldberg reported a list of names that Auburn is considering for its new head coach. One of them was Louisville's Charlie Strong.
This evening, Goldberg reported that Strong has interviewed for the opening on the Plains:
Auburn has interviewed Louisville head coach Charlie Strong in one of its first moves to find a replacement for Gene Chizik.
The interview took place in the last two days with a representative of Auburn, al.com has learned, according to someone familiar with the process. The conversation may have been by telephone.
As you can imagine, the UL head man didn't like this report at all:
Just spoke to Charlie Strong. He's angry. He says he did not interview at Auburn and has not spoken to them. "It's not true."— Pete Thamel(@SIPeteThamel) November 29, 2012
Taking this for what it is, and given how coaching searches work, the report and the reaction are not 100% incompatible. I mean sure, either Goldberg's source or Strong is wrong about the interview part. However depending on how you define the "them" in Thamel's tweet on the matter, the rest of the denial might still harmonize with the report. After all, Goldberg says that Strong spoke to a representative of Auburn. If that person isn't employed by Auburn, then technically Strong didn't speak to any "them" from Auburn.
I can understand why Strong would be so upset. For one thing, coaches always hate talking about other jobs. More importantly, today for Louisville is supposed to be all about the school's move to the ACC. It was for a while, but now it's also partially about him possibly looking to take another job. That doesn't reflect well on him, even if the report claims the contact happened days ago before it looked certain that UL was going anywhere this week. Not to mention the fact that a conference title is on the line with the game against Rutgers this coming weekend.
Now I'm not a power broker, but I do know this much. Even in this day and age, real, actual job interviews where millions of dollars are on the line happen in person. I completely expect that someone connected to the Auburn search would reach out to Strong to gauge his interest. That sort of thing could definitely happen via phone. But an interview? As in a session where the job possibly gets offered at the end? No way that happened without face-to-face contact, and Strong's schedule with a game coming up hasn't been conducive to him having a clandestine meeting somewhere. We always hear about contact with coaches being made through back channels, and that's almost certainly what happened here.
For what it's worth, Bruce Feldman has heard that Auburn is interested in Strong and is actively "researching" Bobby Petrino right now.