Coach Strong Is Taking the Longhorns Out of Texas (for now)
- Updated: August 6, 2014
I’ll be straight up. I’ve long been a Charlie Strong fan for a long, long time. I’ve also spent a decent amount of time in Austin and probably have more burnt orange gear than any NY-bred Yankee who attended a school in upstate New York should logically have in his wardrobe. Maybe I just like the logo and colors. Or perhaps it’s the tradition and the fans. Regardless, the I’ve got a soft spot for the ‘Horns and a thing for Charlie Strong. So, this new marriage of the two was already a “thing” I was pretty excited about. But, the more you dig in, the more this is one of the most compelling stories in college football to watch. And good ‘ole (fashioned/school) Coach Strong is making DAMN sure it stays that way.
First came the scuttlebut arising from Strong’s restrictions on the throwing up of the ‘hook em horns hand gesture. Over the spring and into the summer months, the theme of the regime continued to play out with dismissals and suspensions. At last count, it was five dismissed and three “indefinitely” suspended. And just this week, Texas players saw the Longhorns logo disappear from their helmets before they took the practice field.
As the first African-American head coach of any male sport at the University of Texas, Strong was never going to be able to shrink into the shadows. As the head coach of the University of Texas Longhorns football team, Houdini himself wouldn’t be able to escape the glare for a nanosecond. Refreshingly, Coach Strong has indicated through his demeanor and actions that he has absolutely zero intention to do so. He’s going the opposite route. The University of Texas and college football America is going to know exactly how he coaches a team…how he looks to develop players and men…how we approaches the development of a program.
There will be little doubt of how this operation is and will be run. The Texas faithful are watching. While they aren’t and won’t stay “quiet,” the real discussion will ensue come August 30th when the Longhorns open up their season at home against North Texas.
Chances are the players will be donning those classic white helmets with familiar burnt orange ‘Horns logo emblazoned across its width. It will also be certain that those trotting out on that field wearing them will have earned them. Those that haven’t…or don’t live up to the image Coach Strong wants associated with it…won’t be on the field (or the team).
“Rebuilding” a program (or in this case, more appropriately, perhaps just restoring some of its luster) often demands stripping away the vestiges of old and starting with a brand new foundation. Surface appearances and perceptions reveal that Strong’s Texas couldn’t be much different than Mack Brown’s Texas, in much the same way the two men differ vastly on so many levels. The one thing that doesn’t change in Texas, regardless of who’s in charge, is the importance of winning. Will the Strong Way win out with this group? Time will tell. I’m willing to bet on Coach Charlie. The question is how long will Longhorns fan have to — or be willing to — wait.