The Texas Longhorns have been among the more disappointing teams in college football over the past four years. After advancing to the BCS National Championship in 2009, the 'Horns have gone 31-21 while finishing ranked outside the Top 25 in three of those four seasons.
This led to Mack Brown resigning this offseason, and now the program is searching for a head coach it hopes can get it back to national prominence.
Multiple media outlets are reporting that Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong will be the man Texas eventually hires. Here's the latest report from ESPN:
This would be a great hire for Texas, and hopefully the Longhorns will get it wrapped up sooner rather than later so they can begin focusing on recruiting with only a month until national signing day.
Here are the two things Strong has excelled at doing at Louisville, and why Texas should hire him expecting him to do the same there.
Before Strong got to Louisville, the Cardinals went 9-15 and had won just two Big East conference games in their previous two seasons. Entering the 2010 season, UL was projected as one of the worst teams in a BCS conference and likely to finish in last place in the Big East.
But his first Cardinals team went 7-6, won the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl and finished fifth in the Big East out of eight teams.
Not only that, but of the Cards' six losses, five of them were by just one touchdown or less, and it showed how in just one year Strong had changed the losing culture at Louisville.
The next season saw Louisville go 7-6 again but finish in a tie for first place in the Big East, including a win over the conference champion West Virginia Mountaineers, who went on to defeat the Clemson Tigers in the Orange Bowl. It became evident Louisville was becoming a program that could compete with elite college football competition.
His third year saw his Cardinals win the Big East and defeat the heavily favored Florida Gators, who sported eight draft picks in the 2013 NFL draft.
Speaking of which, Strong went 25-14, won the Big East and a BCS bowl game in his first three years while having only four players drafted into the NFL, and none of them were higher than a third-round selection.
That's called maximizing your talent, something Brown failed to do over his final four season at Texas, which led to his downfall. The first thing Texas needs to push for in its new coach is someone who recruits and develops talent well.
That's what Strong thrives in and why he could come to Texas and make an immediate impact with as much talent as the Longhorns already have on their roster.
Focus on Defense
One of the biggest culprits behind the Longhorns' struggles recently has been the lack of consistently good defense. That was painfully evident early this year when the BYU Cougars ran for 550 yards, the most of all time by BYU and the most rushing yards the Longhorns had ever given up, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Strong has built the Louisville defense into one of the best in the nation after it was among the nation's worst prior to his arrival.
Per ESPN Stats and Info, Strong has had the Cardinals rank in the top 10 in the FBS in points allowed per game, yards per game, yards per play and sack percentage after ranking 75th or worse in those categories prior to his arrival.
His star pupil at Louisville is Marcus Smith, who came to Louisville as a quarterback, but Strong helped morph him into a 6'3", 256-pound defensive end who was just named the American Athletics Conference Defensive Player of the Year.
This, after registering 14.5 sacks in his senior season, the second-most total in the nation. He's the truest testament to how well Strong develops and maximizes talent, particularly on defense.
There may be bigger names Texas can pursue, but given Strong's success at maximizing talent and building defense—the two things Texas needs the most right now—Strong may very well be the best hire the Longhorns can possibly make.