After a three-year, highly profiled experiment with Charlie Strong as the head coach, the Texas Longhorns will eventually fire Strong as the head coach of the football program. The announcement won’t come until Monday according to Hookem. Strong, who was hired away from his coaching stint at Louisville on January 5, 2014, struggled to bring his prodigious coaching talent into fruition for Texas, who is considered a marquee program. The Longhorns have finished 16-20 in his tenure. The past two seasons, Strong led the Longhorns to a 5-7 and 6-7 record. There is no particular reason why the Longhorns have decided to delay the announcement, but according to Hookem, the announcement will indeed happen.
“University of Texas officials have decided to fire football coach Charlie Strong, however the official announcement may not come until Monday, a high-ranking university source told the American-Statesman.”
“The decision comes after Saturday’s shocking 24-21 overtime loss to Kansas, a team that had lost 19 straight Big 12 games.”
“‘It will happen for sure. The question is when,’ the source said.”
“Strong is 16-20 in three seasons with the Longhorns and may become the first coach to oversee three consecutive losing seasons since 1936-38. He currently has the lowest winning percentage of any coach in UT football history and is 5-10 against ranked opponents in three years.”
Many expectations were set for Strong after several successful coaching stints as defensive coordinator or head coach at South Carolina, Florida, and Louisville. Known as a defensive mastermind, he helped orchestrate top defenses for South Carolina and championship defenses for Urban Meyer at Florida. Strong has steered the overall development of Joe Haden, Carlos Dunlap, Teddy Bridgewater, and a plethora of others. But despite the track record Strong had for building successful defenses and teams, fans and university officials grew worrisome over the lack of immediate progress by the program. According to Sportsday, the prospect of a new coach has brought a lot of intrigue.
“A source familiar with the internal debate said that if Texas finishes 6-6, the school will definitely opt for ‘new blood.’ At 7-5, Strong has a chance of returning ‘with the operative word being maybe,’ the source said. ‘There’s a lot of pressure to make a change.'”
But according Hookem, even that same pressure was on Strong and his players, who perhaps knew that this past Saturday’s game against Kansas (the Longhorns lost to 1-9 Kansas to drop them to 5-6) would perhaps be a make-or-break for the Texas officials.
“Asked if Strong has been told, the high-ranking university source said, ‘He knows what is coming.'”
“Strong appeared to know the end was near after Saturday’s loss. In a somber four-minute press conference, Strong’s voice almost cracked when he was asked what the loss means for his status. ‘No idea,’ he said.”
“Strong’s wife, Vicki, was holding back tears in the cramped media room inside Memorial Stadium. Men’s athletic director Mike Perrin declined to speak to reporters afterward.”
“Several players, including defensive lineman Poona Ford and Charles Omenihu, were seen collapsing on the field. Some players were crying in the locker room afterward.”
“‘What you do is go hug ’em and look ’em in the eye, tell ’em to keep battling,’ offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert said during the post-game press conference.”
What some detractors could say who are against the firing of Strong is that Strong did make some progress with the team. Strong’s 2016 Longhorn team defeated No. 10 Notre Dame on opening weekend and even defeated No. 8 Baylor. But, three losses where Strong’s team gave up 45, 49 and 50 points, plus the other three losses where they lost 21-24 twice and 20-24, may have caused Texas officials to run out of patience.
[Featured Image by Ed Zurga/Getty Images]