Tag Archives: mack brown

Agree or Disagree With Tom Herman’s Sideline Mockery?

In case you missed it, Tom Herman created a bit of a stir at the end of the Longhorns’ 33-16 bowl game victory over Missouri. For this article to make sense, take a minute to watch this.

Now, to the casual college football fan, Herman looked completely immature and irresponsible as a head coach of a major university. I get that because he did.

I’m not going to make any excuses for Herman here because he’s got to be better in this situation. If you’re going to mock the opposing team in any way, do it behind closed doors so only your team can see it.

With that said, I have absolutely no problem with what Herman did. What the casual fan doesn’t know is that Missouri players had been mocking and trash talking to Texas players all week leading up to the game.

And then they committed the big no-no: flashing the horns down sign.

Here’s a video that surfaced to give the rest of this article even more context.

This is exactly why I have no problem with Herman’s mockery.

Opposing players, coaches and fans constantly mock Texas by throwing the horns down sign. Throwing the horns up sign signifies so much for the University of Texas, whether it’s celebrating after a big play, scoring a touchdown, singing the Eyes of Texas or anything else. When a person throws the horns down sign, they are mocking the player, coach, alumni and university as a whole.

And you know what? There’s never any outrage. In fact, I think I saw an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty thrown on an opposing team for the first time ever this year for doing it.

Why is it ok for other teams to throw their horns down with no backlash, but the Longhorns can’t mock an opposing player’s celebration? It’s complete crap is what it is.

Another reason why I’m ok with Herman’s mockery is that it shows he takes the horns down sign personally. Mack Brown did, but he handled the issue behind closed doors (like it should be). Charlie Strong didn’t respect the sign much and didn’t care if it was disrespected, in my opinion.

For the first time in a long time, I saw a coach and players get as upset and pissed off as I do when I see the horns down sign. Especially when it’s directed at me specifically. It takes quite a bit to make me mad, but there’s something about seeing the horns down sign that boils my blood every single time.

So when I saw the video of the Missouri players doing the horns down sign so freely and confidently, I was proud to see Herman and the Texas players on the sideline doing what they did. Probably the thing I’m most proud of after seeing the video is that the Texas players on the stage with those Missouri players didn’t light them up right there on the stage. If it were me, I would have had a hard time not going all-out Bobby Boucher on them as they were prancing around proudly with their horns down.

Unfortunately for Herman, he’s going to have to live with the social media backlash for a while. It will be talked about for a couple days and will definitely resurface throughout future football seasons, but it is what it is. But if he won over the locker room by doing it, then mission accomplished. And according to Breckyn Hager, he did:

Now if Herman makes this type of behavior the norm, then I’ll have a problem with it. But for a fragile program that has no self-pride in several years, I’m ok with it just this time.

My final point is for the people who say the team should act like they’ve been there before, in regards to winning. My rebuttal is this team has not been there before. They don’t know what winning feels like. Maybe this will give them a taste of winning, maybe it won’t. But for Herman, it’s a small price to pay to potentially elevate his program.

To recap:

Should Herman have done what he did? Probably not.

Is it the end of the world? Definitely not.

Should he make those antics a habit? Absolutely not.

Should Texas fans be embarrassed? Depends on your opinion, but embarrassment is not something that describes my feelings, obviously.

Do the Longhorns have a coach who genuinely takes pride in the University? You better believe it, and it was proven at the Texas Bowl.

And for the record, the Missouri quarterback whom Herman mocked understands the situation and has no problem with it:

Once Texas returns to their winning ways again, this will never be an issue with Herman or his players. I feel confident in saying that. The program just has to get to that point first.

Hook’em \m/

Photo: Wikimedia

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Finally, Some Signs of Stability For Texas

In case you missed it, The University of Texas made what could be its most important hire in the last decade, and potentially the next several decades to come. Somehow, university President Greg Fenves was able to lure away TCU Athletic Director Chris Del Conte to hire him at the same position at UT.

Now I’ll admit, I don’t know the name of a good Athletic Director from a bad one, but it is obvious to me which athletic programs are on stable ground. And the fact that I actually know the name Chris Del Conte means he must have been doing something right to get my attention. He’s built quite the program at TCU, so the hope is high that he will do the same at Texas.

The reason this is a monumental hire in my opinion is because the Texas athletic department as a whole has been a complete mess ever since Deloss Dodds left in 2013. Steve Patterson was hired and fired within two years, and for very good reasons. Patterson is one of the main reasons why Texas athletics is in the poor shape it’s in right now, mainly because of the wholesale changes he made in order to transform the program into more of a professional sports franchise.

I’m not going to get into the disaster Patterson created, and the mess interim Athletic Director Mike Perrin inherited (and did a remarkable job of damage control), but you can read a local Austin media member’s account of the situation here. If you have any interest in Texas sports at all, take 10 minutes and read it. You will understand why the Texas program has been a dumpster fire for the last several years.

What the hiring of Del Conte as the permanent AD means is the program is finally on the right track for stability. Often times, the hiring of a new AD means changes will be made, particularly on coaching staffs. However, I can’t see that being the case here.

Let’s face it, for the better part of two decades, I only knew of three coaches and one AD as a Texas supporter. Mack Brown, Rick Barnes, Augie Garrido and Deloss Dodds were prominent figures and represented the stability of the program. When you look back at the stability, it’s really no surprise the success all three of the major programs at Texas had during their time.

Since 2013, there have been three Athletic Directors, two head football coaches and multiple staff changes among the three major programs. Shaka Smart is the longest tenured coach of the big three sports, and he was hired as the basketball coach in 2015.

Will Del Conte come in and immediately create a stable program? Time will tell. However, based on his track record during his nine years at TCU, I would say he knows a thing or two about stability. During his time there, TCU has become nationally relevant in football and is a constant participant in the College World Series. He hired a new basketball coach last year and now that program is rejuvenated and considered to be an above-average team in the Big 12.

The main issues I can see Del Conte having is dealing with the pressure from the fans, media and mostly the big money donors. Patience is not something that’s very common around UT fans and donors today, so every move Del Conte makes will be under the microscope. I have all the confidence that he will shake the hands that need to be shaken and get in good graces with the most important people involved with the university, though.

But as we saw with arguably the most stable group of people the university has ever seen, no one is safe if the results don’t match the expectations.

Signs of stability are good, since there hasn’t been much of it surrounding the athletic department in recent years. I personally think Del Conte is a homerun hire and just hope the pressures of being the Athletic Director at Texas doesn’t force him to alter what has worked for him in the past.

Photo: Wikimedia

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Stoops’ Retirement May Not Be The Best Thing For Texas Football

Usually when the most successful coach statistically in the conference decides to call it quits, it opens up an opportunity for the rest of the conference. I’ve seen a lot of reactions stating the same as a result of Bob Stoops abruptly retiring, but I’m not sold on it. In fact, I’m thinking closer to the complete opposite, and think Oklahoma is going to be in better shape than they are right now a few years down the road. Hear me out.

Stoops is leaving with a complete and talented roster. He’s handing over the reigns to Lincoln Riley with a Heisman-contending quarterback (in some people’s eyes), a stable athletic department from what outsiders can see, and a program that’s won back-to-back Big 12 championships.

But most importantly, I think Stoops is leaving at the perfect time. Not only the perfect time of the year, but the perfect time in his career as well.

I’ve said for two years that OU football is going to start declining under Stoops. Even though he was winning, he just didn’t have the same demeanor on the sidelines, and definitely didn’t sound the same in press conferences.

He started reminding me of Mack Brown about two years ago.

During Mack’s decline, he started responding to questions more politically. So did Stoops the past couple of years.

Mack always pointed to the 2005 National Championship and 2009 Big 12 Championship to bail himself out when people doubted him. Stoops started pointing to the trophy case more often as well when asked a difficult question about the state of his program. But the fact is, Sooner fans don’t care about the Big 12 Championships anymore. That’s the result of success, Bob.

Instead of looking to the future and talking about where the program was headed, Mack started talking more about where they’ve been. Stoops has been doing the same.

I was at peace knowing OU was going to head down a similar path as Texas, because Stoops was going to stay too long. I wanted to see a messy transition, similar to what Texas went through with Mack. I wanted to see Stoops have a losing season before eventually getting run out of Norman. But that’s just the Texas fan and my natural hate of everything Oklahoma in me.

But he played his cards perfectly. He’s getting out before the pressure hits him any harder. Did he learn by observing Mack’s situation a few years ago? I wouldn’t doubt it.

He’s made enough money in his career where he doesn’t have to put up with that stuff if he doesn’t want to. He’s chosen to get out before it happens. Good for him, but not good for Texas.

The reason? Lincoln Riley.

I was afraid when Oklahoma hired him two years ago as Offensive Coordinator. Aside from the fact that he has no head coaching experience, it feels like Oklahoma now has their version of Tom Herman.

He’s a young up-and-comer who many experts believe will be the next hottest coach in college football. And while he’s being thrown into a pretty cushy situation in Norman, he will find out quickly that this is a different animal he’s dealing with if he loses a game or two early. There will likely be some growing pains, but I fully expect him to adjust, as much as it hurts me to say that.

Riley will be able to relate to players more than Stoops has been recently, and that doesn’t bode well for Texas on the recruiting trail. Just as Herman is dominating recruiting right now without having coached a game at Texas, I expect Riley to do the same in the very near future.

And remember those commitments Herman secured from the state of Oklahoma recently? I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two flipped back and decided to stay home now. It’s just how recruiting works.

Riley puts the Sooners back on an even playing field for the time being in recruiting, because he brings a new vision, a new level of excitement and possibly a new brand of Oklahoma football. Who knows how well he will follow-up Stoops in the win column, but I’m worried he will see success earlier rather than later.

I have some peace knowing Texas has Herman to counter anything Riley has to throw out there, though. And I think you’re going to see a Red River Shootout like none other this October as a result.

This is the first time since 1947 that both Texas and Oklahoma will have first-year head coaches at their respective schools squaring off against each other in the annual battle. And I think we will be in for an instant classic.

I know I’m not in the minority when I say I wish I could have one more chance at beating Stoops in the Cotton Bowl. But I believe I am in the minority when I say I’m more worried about the Sooners now than I was a week ago.

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Wikimedia

Tom Herman will be in Over His Head at Texas

Tom Herman is the new head football coach at the University of Texas. For most people, this is a match made in heaven. Campus Pressbox’s own Chase Holik is one of those people who is showering Texas with unapologetic praise for the hire.

I’m here to tell Chase and the rest of the Tom Herman fan club to slow down.

In hiring Herman, I feel like we’ve witnessed this kind of enthusiasm about a previous Texas head coaching hire. Remember when Charlie Strong was hired in 2014? I do. And Strong was the hot, unproven coaching commodity in 2014 just as Herman is now. Even though the perception is that Herman and Strong are nothing like, let’s compare the two at comparable points in their careers.

Prior to accepting the Texas job, Strong boasted an impressive resume. He spent time as an assistant coach at high profile schools like Florida and Notre Dame. He was a position coach for Lou Holtz at Notre Dame and was the defensive coordinator for Florida’s 2006 and 2008 national championship teams. He turned his success as an assistant coach into a head coaching opportunity at Louisville.

In 2010, Strong took over a Louisville program that had gone 15-21 under Steve Kragthorpe. Strong took that struggling program and, through recruiting players like Teddy Bridgewater, went 37-15. In his four seasons at Louisville, Strong turned the Cardinals back into winners. His tenure was highlighted by a Sugar Bowl victory over Florida. His reward for rebuilding Louisville was being tapped to do the same at Texas. Texas was coming off of an 8-5 season under Mack Brown. Times were tough in Austin when Strong took over.

The state of the Longhorn program is important to remember when assessing Strong’s record at Texas. He was having to rebuild the program both inside and out.

Herman and Strong’s rise to coaching prominence is similar. Herman’s claim to fame was the success Ohio State had during his time as offensive coordinator. He is credited with being the architect of the Buckeye offense that won the 2014 national championship. Herman used this accomplishment to gain his first head coaching job at Houston.

Herman then took over a Houston program that had fallen on hard times under head coach Tony Levine. Levine went 21-17 at Houston prior to Herman taking over. Like Strong did at Louisville, Herman brought Houston back to national prominence. Herman went 22-4 at Houston and the highlight was beating Florida State in the 2015 Peach Bowl.

The similarities between Herman and Strong not only include impressive resumes as assistant coaches but also includes success as mid-major head coaches. But the decision made by the Texas administration to hire Herman is based on the idea that Herman is completely different than Strong. Texas is wrong. Herman and Strong are more similar on the field than anyone at Texas cares to admit.

Herman knows football. There’s no question about that. When it comes right down to it, so does Strong. But there’s more to succeeding at Texas than just knowing football. Coaching at Texas also means living inside a vast political machine that includes overbearing boosters and a savage Austin sports media cabal. And that is what I doubt Herman is prepared to manage. Strong was over his head and my best guess is that Herman will also be in over his head.

Texas would have been better off hiring an experienced head coach. Sorry, but Herman’s two years at Houston just doesn’t cut it. Herman couldn’t handle a bit of friction with Nick Wright and John Lopez. Keep in mind that this happened while Herman was winning at Houston. What will he do if he falls on hard times at Texas and the Austin media rip into him? Wright and Lopez aren’t Kirk Bohls and Chip Brown. I’ll wish Herman good luck right now if he rubs either of those Austin sports media legends the wrong way.

Being the head coach at Louisville was different than being in charge of the Longhorns. And being in charge at Houston is different than being the head coach at Texas. It’s not so much about football knowledge as it is the ability to maneuver through a 24-hour labyrinth of media and booster scrutiny.

There will be no honeymoon period for Herman just as there wasn’t for Strong. Herman may have had the head coaching pedigree to handle a job as big as Texas down the road, but I don’t believe that day is today.

E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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New Bevo, Old Baylor

On Tuesday Baylor finally responded to the reports that Ken Starr has been fired from Baylor University. As of the latest report they still have not made a decision on whether or not they will fire Starr. The spokeswomen for Baylor, Tonya Lewis, said, “we will not respond to rumors, speculation or reports based on unnamed sources, but when official news is available, the University will provide it. We expect an announcement by June 3.” It is speculated that President Starr and athletic director Ian McCaw will be losing their jobs, but head football coach Art Briles will not. It will be interesting to see if it was just a rumor, but for the sake of Baylor I hope it isn’t.

The University of Texas has selected a new Longhorn steer mascot. The school had to select a new mascot because Bevo XIV, who was on the Texas sideline since 2004, passed away in October 2015. The mascot will be introduced for the 100th anniversary season of its first appearance. The longhorns will play Notre Dame on September 4, the first appearance of Bevo XV.

Nothing has been made official yet but from the sound of it Wil Grier will be able to play for West Virginia the first game of the 2017 season. Grier is enrolled at West Virginia but due to testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs he may not be able to play until mid season. According to Holgorsen this might change. Holgorsen said, “I fully anticipate him being eligible for the opening game of the 2017 season.” If there is a will there is a way. I wouldn’t be surprised if somehow the NCAA waives the rest of his suspension and lets him play the full season with the Mountaineers.

Bev Kearney sued Texas for at least one million dollars in damages in 2013. Kearney was the head track coach and had a romantic relationship with one of her sprinters over a decade earlier. It has taken so long for her to get justice because the University has been appealing the issue. Kearney is saying she was more harshly punished because she is black. A white male football coach did the same thing and was only reprimanded, not fired. Kearney is seeking statements from Mack Brown, former athletic director DeLoss Dodds, former school president Bill Powers and current women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky. The statements they will write are on how exactly they handled the situation at the time it was brought to their attention. This case has been swept under the rug recently due to the Baylor scandal, but it will be interesting to see what happens.

Sylvester Turner an alumni of the University of Houston believes that when Oklahoma comes to town on September 3, the Cougars will beat the Sooners by “14, or possibly 21 points.” Did I mention Sylvester Turner is also the mayor of Houston? He has turned a lot of heads by making this statement and has also provided some locker room motivation for the guys in Norman. The Cougars are coming off of a really great season, but I have a feeling the Sooners will be ready for them, especially after that comment.

As the time draws near, it looks less and less likely that the Big 12 presidents are going to vote against the Big 12 expansion. After all of the schools that have sold themselves to try to get into the Big 12 it looks like they will all be disappointed. Apparently, after six years, the Big 12 is not in the “decision-making” stage, so it probably won’t ever be. If no expansion happens I think the Big 12 will fall apart in the next couple of years and Oklahoma will be the first school to leave.

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Charlie Strong Wins National Signing Day

Wow! Did that just happen?

That’s what Texas Longhorns fans were saying for about 24 hours starting on the Tuesday before National Signing Day. Texas was sitting at 15 total commitments and ranked no higher than #30 in any of the recruiting rankings when the day started on Tuesday.

Then the first domino fell.

Running back Kyle Porter made the call to Coach Strong Tuesday afternoon, in what was a bit of a surprise. Then D’Andre Christmas-Giles decided to announce his verbal commitment to Texas on a New Orleans TV station (where he is from) that night. It was those two moments that we could feel a little momentum building.

It was one-after-another-after-another when it comes to verbal commitments, and eventual Letters of Intent being signed on National Signing Day itself. Strong pulled in an astonishing eight 4-star prospects in a 24-hour span. It was enough to make him start trending on Twitter by mid-morning.

Texas jumped 22 spots in ESPN’s class rankings to finish #10 with 24 total signees. No other recruiting service had them ranked any lower than #10. And this is a team that went 5-7 last year and 6-7 the year before.

Charlie Strong’s recruiting strategy was extremely gutsy. He went all-in with confidence that he was going to get the players that he wanted. There were a few that he didn’t get on signing day, but signing eight of his twelve targets in a 24-hour period wasn’t a bad showing.

Most coaches want players to commit to their school early. Not Strong. He told recruits to commit to him, but don’t announce it. Why? Because that makes them an easy target for negative recruiting by other schools. If other schools don’t know that they are committed to Texas, then they can’t talk as bad about them to persuade them to back out of their commitment.

That was the secret to Strong and the Longhorns winning signing day.

It wasn’t a surprise to him, even though it may have shocked the country. He knew what was going to happen. But even he admitted he had a couple of surprises that fell in his favor.

One of those pleasant surprises was landing one of the best safeties in the country in Brandon Jones. Jones picked Texas over Texas A&M and Baylor. If you’ve watched any college football over the past few years, you know that both of those programs have had better results on the field than Texas.

Chris Daniels is a defensive lineman that was once committed to Oklahoma.

Christmas-Giles was considering TCU and LSU.

Jeffery McCullouch was considering A&M, Notre Dame and Stanford.

The one thing in common that all those other programs have is that they’ve been better than Texas on the field recently. So how can a Texas team get these players when they’re coming off of a 5-7 season and a 6-7 season the year before?

The answer is trust.

It’s evident that these players trust that Strong will turn around Texas. They want to be a part of something special. Many of the players that Strong signed yesterday could have gone to a dozen or more schools, but they chose Texas.

So what does that all mean for Charlie Strong and the Longhorns?

Nothing if they don’t develop those players and start winning games.

Mack Brown was known as Mr. February during the later part of his career at Texas, since he was able to consistently bring in top-5 recruiting classes. But once the results started becoming non-existent on the field, he found his way out of the program.

This year’s big recruiting class or last year’s won’t matter either if they can’t find a competent quarterback to lead the team. Shane Buechele could be that guy, or someone else could step up.

On paper, this class could be more important than last year’s because it gives the Longhorns depth at just about every position. It will be shocking if more than 4-5 upperclassmen are starting for Texas next year. Because of the 50 or so players that Strong has brought in over the last two seasons, the excuses for losing are becoming few and far between. These are his players now and this is his team.

If Strong doesn’t start winning soon, then he could just be stockpiling the cupboard with talent for another coach to come in and win with his players. We’ve seen it happen with other programs. One thing for certain is that the players will play hard for Strong and will go to war with him any day of the week.

Texas may not be back at the top in 2016, but when Strong’s first two classes at Texas become sophomores and juniors, look out.

Flagship Programs in Texas

When you think of a “flagship” program, you probably think of a recognized brand with a lot of tradition. People may hate or love the “flagship,” but they almost always respect them.

Texas and Texas A&M are the two flagship programs in the state of Texas, traditionally, but both programs are undergoing some major issues as we head into the New Year. Texas’ issues might finally be sorting themselves out, but A&M’s appear to just be beginning.

Ever since the Mack Brown/DeLoss Dodds/Bill Powers regime ended, the Texas program has been a borderline disaster. Fans, boosters and alumni of the program have been embarrassed and somewhat ashamed at the actions that have taken place.

There can be a whole separate article on how Steve Patterson’s reign as AD at Texas began and ended, but we aren’t even touching that today.

Focusing strictly on football, Charlie Strong hasn’t been given the support that he’s needed from day one. Plain and simple. There are big issues behind the scenes that a casual fan can’t see, but they are becoming clearer every day.

The lack of production on the field is one thing, but when you can’t convince a coach from an in-state rival school (TCU’s Sonny Cumbie) to leave his gig to coach at the “flagship” program in Texas for more than twice his salary, it screams that something fishy is going on.

It all came to a head when Strong went to plan “B” for his offensive coordinator search. It appeared that Sterlin Gilbert was set to be the OC, and then something fell through that forced Strong, AD Mike Perrin and President Greg Fenves to fly to Tulsa in an attempt to clear the air. The fact that all three men had to be involved just shows how discombobulated the program really is.

Supposedly Gilbert did not sense and receive a vote of confidence for Strong, which is why he didn’t take the job initially. The severe lack of communication was evident. Yes, they eventually hired Gilbert, but they set an unprecedented standard of desperation that resonated on Twitter throughout the country. That should never happen at Texas.

Texas A&M has enjoyed the issues that their former rival has been going through, but it appears that they may be headed down a similar path soon.

Kevin Sumlin lost two five-star quarterbacks in a span of a week. Both Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray transferred from the program for similar reasons. The main reason was that they did not trust Sumlin.

Most people assumed that whoever lost the starting job would transfer, but no one predicted that both would within the same week. That shows that there are some major issues in the locker room and behind the scenes.

Now A&M boosters are having a hard time trusting Sumlin, and there’s a chance that he could be fired if the Aggies don’t win their upcoming bowl game against Louisville. Talk about a fall from grace.

The most embarrassing part about the situation is the national attention that it’s receiving. Problems like this extend past just the current players. It also affects recruits. As we near the peak recruiting season, Sumlin is going to have to answer a lot of questions that he would rather not address.

So with all of these issues that two of the most respected programs in the state of Texas are having, can we really still consider them the “flagship” programs?

TCU and Baylor have performed better on the field over the past few seasons overall, and Houston is on its way up too. Each program has its upsides and its downfalls, but it almost seems like the administration and some coaches at Texas and Texas A&M don’t realize the magnitude of the programs they are trying to run.

What Texas and A&M are going through at the same time is rare to see. However, the issues are magnified because they are the “flagship” programs in the state.

Both programs will be fine over time, but the near future outlook doesn’t look very promising. It’s difficult to say anything good about either program right now, and it doesn’t have anything to do with the student athletes.

If the main problems were on the field and in the classroom, then we’d be talking about a different monster. But we are talking about trust at the highest levels, whether it is the players trusting the head coach or the head coach trusting the administration. Either way you look at it, it’s downright embarrassing for both programs to deal with and it could take some time to move forward and put it all behind them.

College Football Needs Charlie Strong To Succeed At Texas

The Charlie Strong era at the University of Texas hasn’t gotten off to the start he had hoped for, but the rest of college football should be hoping that he rights the ship soon.

With many of the traditional football powerhouses down in recent years (I’m talking about you Florida, Michigan, USC and Texas), college football just hasn’t been the same. Is it just a coincidence that when those power programs have been down, there has really only been one single dominant conference?

There has been a little more parity in the sport over the past couple of seasons, but I’ll explain why Texas is the team that must get back on track soon.

Texas is the richest and most influential college program in the country. Fans either love them or hate them. There aren’t many people that don’t have an opinion on them. When Texas was good, you had Mack Brown at the helm and he was just as good at politicking as he was at coaching. He created an empire at Texas, which eventually led to the creation of the Longhorn Network. Since Texas lost the 2009 BCS National Championship to Alabama, Texas has been on a downward spiral.

Enter Charlie Strong. Strong made a statement when he was hired in 2014, by releasing multiple players from scholarships and suspending a handful of other players. He wasn’t shy about whom he cut, either. Many of them were starters the previous year.

His actions caused shockwaves throughout the program and through the national media. It was, and still is, clear that Strong will not sacrifice integrity in order to win. The trend continued through the season as we saw other players get released due to violations of team rules. Again, Strong was not afraid of distractions to his team. He was more focused on getting rid of the cancer rather than overlook it.

Texas finished the season 6-7 with an embarrassing bowl game loss to Arkansas. The Longhorns were sitting at 1-4 heading into the Red River Rivalry against Oklahoma this season. They didn’t stand a chance.

When the players realized that their coach’s job was on the line, we saw how talented they really are. We saw players play out of respect for their coach, even though many of them lost their friends from the team when they got released. Texas dominated Oklahoma. This says a lot about a coach when there are typically a lot of shady things that go on in many programs.

Texas being in the national championship discussion is not only good for the state, but it’s good for college football as well. Charlie Strong is building his program with a foundation of ethics, which is rare nowadays. In fact, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell even met with Strong about his program last year to get a sense of his five core values that he bases his program on. Love or hate the Longhorns, you have to appreciate what Strong is doing as a college football fan.

Scandals can mar a program. Many coaches will overlook or brush off accusations, especially if they are against their star players. The Joe Paterno saga is a perfect example. Not Strong and not Texas.

If Strong is able to turn the Texas program around and contend for championships again, there needs to be an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary written about it. It is the ultimate story of a relatively unknown coach to the state, being the first African American head coach at the school, not being admired by some big-name donors and still able to make it happen.

On the field, Texas being back to prominence will likely make others rise to the top. We’ve seen Michigan and Florida start trending upward. Once it happens with Texas, we could see a lot more power programs start to rise.

Off the field, there probably wouldn’t be a better story of building a championship team with a bare cupboard. The trickle-down effect could go all the way to the high school ranks because of the respect that the coaches have for Strong.

If Texas cuts ties with Strong too soon, it will send a wrong message to the fans of the program and the sport in general. Strong is more concerned with building a team of character before he can win. Texas fans and boosters will get antsy if their team finishes with another losing record this season, but they have to give him time.

Once Texas starts winning again, so will the rest of college football.

Texas is College Football’s Dr. Dre

Texas has a longstanding history, there’s no debating that. But after Darrell Royal’s retirement in 1976 the Longhorns went through the typical ups and downs any program does. Of course they had some quality seasons here and there, but those were matched by the dreadful years finishing around .500. It wasn’t until Mack Brown arrived in 1998 that Texas started to obtain sustained success once again, and where the Longhorns program since has reminded me of…Dr. Dre? Stay with me.

Just as Dr. Dre experienced early success with NWA, the Longhorns experienced a revival under Mack Brown, winning nine games in three consecutive years for the first time in almost 20 years. Then Mack Brown really got Texas rolling, winning double-digit games in nine straight years including a title in 2005. This was Texas’ “The Chronic” stage, officially announcing them on the scene with multiple “hit” seasons.

Unfortunately for Texas fans, their program has taken a significant turn for the worst. Mack Brown’s final years as the Longhorns coach were filled with disappointment and “could have beens,” even though each of his last three years they won eight or nine games and went to a bowl, (finishes that would be considered a success at some schools). A similar path was followed by Dr. Dre, whose album “Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath” was a disappointment and somehow still went platinum. This was a level many rappers could only dream of attaining, but not one that lived up to the standards established by Dre’s debut solo album. During this time Dr. Dre began extensive work on his own brand and Aftermath Entertainment. Similarly, the Texas Longhorns have been working on branding of their own, especially with the Longhorn Network.

The Texas Longhorns find themselves still in this stage with no apparent end in sight. The on-field product has been substandard, but that could be chalked up to the cycle of ups and downs a program goes through, particularly after a highly successful coach departs. But this season the Longhorns have become a circus off the field. It began after Week 1, where Texas wasn’t even competitive against a Notre Dame team that is trying to get back to national prominence in its own right. Charlie Strong stripped assistant head coach Shawn Watson of his play-calling duties, a questionable move considering the timing and potential effects. Did Strong really think his offense could compete against a Notre Dame team with a fierce defense? I don’t care who’s calling the plays, if you don’t have the talent it won’t make much of a difference. Then to do it one week into the season without giving Watson a chance to atone for whatever mistakes Strong felt he made just reeked of desperation.

But that change, (more so their week two opponent Rice) gave the Longhorns at least a week to stave off the wolves. It should have been almost two weeks, (until this Saturday where the Longhorns play a Cal offense they have no chance in hell of keeping up with). But Texas, for all intents and purposes, fired AD Steve Patterson this week. There were apparently some behind the scene issues that Patterson had, but it still seems odd to let go an AD who brought in popular hires in the two most important sports on campus.

The real question now is where this leaves Charlie Strong, who was brought in by Patterson. His seat was already hot enough, but the new AD will have no qualms about getting rid of Strong and bringing in a guy who he sees as the future for Texas. But bringing in a new coach usually pushes off any potential return to glory for a program since said new coach will need time to bring in his own recruits. This is especially the case at Texas, where even Steve Spurrier in his prime may not have been able to get this offense to 25 points per game.

The Longhorns still find themselves in turmoil as the fan base awaits the team’s return to glory. Does Texas have that “Still Dre” season in them? Or has the program passed that and skipped right to the “Detox” stage, where fans wait year after year for a return that may never happen?

Texas Bye Week Reflections

Normally a team’s bye week is a time for reflection on how the season has gone to that point and give banged up players a chance to heal before hitting the field again. It also gives players and coaches extra time to prepare for the upcoming opponents.
For Texas, however, one of the main storylines during the Longhorns’ bye centered around starting quarterback David Ash’s medical issues. On Wednesday, the junior signal-caller decided to hang up his cleats for good after suffering a concussion in the season opener against North Texas.
Ash finished the game against North Texas but phoned the athletic trainers later that night complaining of headaches and dizziness. He did not play a down against BYU or UCLA, which was undoubtedly the best option for the young man’s future.
I’m relieved that Ash was able to make this difficult decision on his own terms. So many players feed off of the toughness aspect of the sport they love and hold on to play one more play, one more game, or one more season, when the smarter move might be to walk away while they still can do exactly that – walk away.
Several NFL players from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s have been dealing with the ill effects of prolonged careers on the gridiron, while others survived the rigors of the sport relatively unscathed. A large group of former professional football players is currently suing the league in hopes of being compensated for the pain and suffering they presently endure on a daily basis.
Mental issues likely caused by numerous blows to the head have even led a handful of former players to end their own lives. It truly is a shame.
While no one can be sure what would have become of Ash had he continued to play, I’m certain he, his family and doctors weighed all the options. Ash missed several games last season due to concussions and he likely felt the rewards of gridiron glory weren’t worth the potential risks.
Horns head coach Charlie Strong has done an admirable job dealing with the issues surrounding Ash, who was on the sidelines the past two games assisting offensive coordinator Shawn Watson as an assistant quarterbacks coach. No one outside of Ash can be sure if a coaching career is something he wants to pursue in the future, but it’s great to see that the Texas coaching staff didn’t simply discard Ash to the scrap heap.
Not only does the coaching role keep Ash close to his teammates, but it will undoubtedly help starter Tyrone Swoopes and the rest of the quarterbacks on the roster. As Swoopes continues to grow into his role as a leader of the offense and the team in general, Ash’s main contribution will be to lend advice to Swoopes based on his experiences under center at one of the highest-profile universities in the nation.
The job of quarterback for the University of Texas is not one that every athlete can handle, with pressure coming from all directions – fans, media and boosters, to name a few – but having Ash to lean on during preparation for games, and during the games themselves, is something that Swoopes should take full advantage of.