Comin’ On Strong!
Comin’ On Strong!
Last year, an era came to an end. Mack Brown stepped down as the head coach of our beloved Texas Longhorns. It was a move that had long been anticipated. He wasn’t producing the kind of football that UT fans had come to expect and, by his own admission, he too realized that maybe it was time to call it a career. Mack had taken the team to two Big 12 Championships and the BCS Championship in 2006 with Vince Young at the helm against a USC team that was on fire that year. The result was a National Championship.
But since then, the winning ways weren’t as prevalent as Longhorn fans had grown accustomed to, with a few notable exceptions, like the 2009 Big 12 Championship and numerous Bowl appearances; but ever since that loss to Saban’s Alabama team in that BCS Championship Game in 09, something just seemed different.
In the years that would follow up until his resignation in December of last year, the team just wasn’t performing well. The disastrous 2010 season saw the team end with a losing record and no Bowl appearance, the first time ever during Coach Brown’s tenure. It was an anomaly, just a bad year for Mack, he’ll rebound. The team will be back, strong as ever.
The loss of some key personnel didn’t help, and while the team had winning records in 2011, 2012, and 2013; each one had four or five losses taking us out of contention for the National Championship and into the Holiday Bowl and two consecutive Alamo Bowl appearances after that. The second of which we lost 30-7 to the Oregon Ducks. But at that point, the writing was on the wall. Mack Brown was done in Austin, after an impressive run that made him the winningest coach in Longhorns history with a record that included seven wins over the Sooners.
But now there’s a new coach in town and his name is Charlie Strong. He used to be the head coach at Louisville before coming to Austin and that raised some eyebrows. The Longhorns have long been considered one of the most highly sought after coaching gigs in all of college football. After Coach Brown’s resignation the rumors were flying fast. All kinds of huge, marquee names were being thrown around. There was buzz that Nick Saban wanted the gig at one point and despite his vehement denial that he wasn’t leaving Alabama for the job, no one believed a word he said having boned LSU and the Dolphins in claiming he had no interest in leaving for a job that he was rumored to want. Though despite all the speculation, Strong was hired amidst a lot of people scratching their heads. A guy from a mid-level program in the AAC taking over what is arguably the best job in college sports?
Well it’s 2014 now and Charlie Strong has taken the bull by the horns and the program has him doing a multi-city bus tour to sort of introduce himself; talking to fans, boosters, and players and tempering the lofty expectations of the Longhorn faithful by giving them some real talk. One of these such events took place down in San Antonio last week and he told a sold out crowd of 800 fans at Sunset Station not to expect a National Championship this year.
That was met with a mix of boos and approval from fans who were thinking practically alongside him. He told the crowd he knew that the program isn’t where it’s supposed to be but he’s dedicated to getting the team there, to make them better. He’s telling players the stark truth about their presence on the depth chart with one on one meetings. Coach Strong knows how rabid we are as a fan base, and that to me is re-assuring.
He knows we want to win, he knows that’s all we want. Everything I’ve seen about his no-nonsense approach to the job makes me think we’ve got the right guy for the job. But it’s still early, even Coach Strong acknowledged as much during his stop in San Antonio. His exact words were: “I know you all are excited, but it’s only April the 28th. Let’s not get out of hand. We’ve still got a ways to go.” He’s right about that, so time will tell if this was the right hire or not. One thing I do feel is important is that we give him the time to acclimate fully to the job, get the boys’ heads and hearts right about the game, and make sure we don’t pressure him to win NOW. These things take some time.