Louisville faces conference two-step

AMELIA ISLAND, Fla. -- Louisville coach Charlie Strong is attending ACC spring meetings this year as the Cardinals face the uncomfortable position of playing one more year in their old conference while planning a future in a new conference.

Pitt and Syracuse did the dance last season. Louisville gets a turn now.

But not everything is new around here. Strong obviously knows Pitt coach Paul Chryst and played against Syracuse coach Scott Shafer, whose defense last year completely befuddled the Cardinals. He faced Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher during his time as a Florida assistant. And Strong also has good friend Steve Addazio with him in meetings. A year ago, Addazio and Strong sat in a room in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., during Big East spring meetings.

Now here they are at different league meetings, as the Cardinals have changed conference allegiances and Addazio left Temple for Boston College. Not surprisingly, the two former Florida assistants walked out together during the first day of meetings. Strong said the biggest reason he was here was to get acquainted with the other league coaches and commissioner John Swofford.

Louisville reps will not attend Big East spring meetings next week.

Given everything the Louisville program has accomplished over the past year, the Cardinals are joining their league at the right time.

When asked what it has been like watching virtually every program on campus have success this year, including his own, Strong said, "Our athletic director, Tom Jurich, is amazing. Just to watch how he’s been able to be the mastermind behind all the success in the program, with football, basketball, soccer, our baseball team, our softball team. It’s good we’re having the success. Now for us to take a step into another conference at least we bring some credibility with us."

Expectations are high once again for Louisville headed into this season. What does Strong make of the hype?

"The main thing for us is consistency," he said. "We haven’t been a program that’s been consistent each year. Is complacency going to set in? Are we good enough or mature enough to take that next step? We’ll find out this season."

Though Louisville will be playing under the American Athletic Association banner in 2013, there is no doubt how the Cardinals do will impact the ACC's perception. It certainly won't hurt matters if the Cardinals make an undefeated run and have a Heisman contender on their hands headed into Year 1 in their new league home.