Gators' Strong told white wife has been impediment

MIAMI -- Florida Gators defensive coordinator Charlie Strong believes race is a reason he hasn't been offered a head-coaching job during his 25 years in college football, a newspaper reported Tuesday.

Strong, a 48-year-old black man, shook his head affirmatively when an Orlando Sentinel reporter asked him if his interracial marriage was a factor in getting passed over for jobs, including one at a Southern school a few years ago. Strong, whose wife is white, said he heard that too many times for it to be rumor.

"Everybody always said I didn't get that job because my wife is white," Strong said at media day Monday, as the Gators prepare to face Oklahoma in the FedEx BCS National Championship Game. "If you think about it, a coach is standing up there representing the university. If you're not strong enough to look through that [interracial marriage], then you have an issue."

There are seven black coaches at the nation's 119 major football schools, also known as the Bowl Subdivision, after four were hired in December.

NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley said last month that "race was the No. 1 factor" why Auburn chose Iowa State coach Gene Chizik over Buffalo coach Turner Gill. Gill, who is black, also is married to a white woman, and ESPN later reported that two Southeastern Conference coaches said Gill got passed over for the job partly because of his interracial marriage.

Strong had a message for those who hold his wife's skin color against him.

"She makes no calls and she plays no defense," Strong said.