Charlie Strong took to the microphone on Monday for his first press conference as head coach of the Texas Longhorns.
The former Louisville head coach discussed his goals for the program and how he plans to build it back up to the national stage. He even touched on what it was like to take over for Mack Brown. Strong was genuine, affable and firm in his commitment to the 'Horns.
Whether you watched all 41 minutes of Strong's morning with the media or Burnt Orange Nation's highlight video, one thing is obvious.
Charlie Strong is no Mack Brown.
Even though he says all the right things, Strong is clearly out of his comfort zone. He stumbles through his first public appearance, seemingly counting the seconds until he can get out of there. He even admitted to the crowd, "I was just hoping that I brought this cold weather with me and that it would have blocked some of these media coming here today."
Now contrast that to the man who coined, "Come early, be loud, stay late, wear orange." Brown comes off as an old friend shootin' the breeze with you in his living room. That was his world, and he owned it even through the dark times.
And Texas has to be OK with that.
Because Strong's value will go way beyond how he presents himself and the program to the world. Expecting him to be the next Brown just isn't reasonable.
First of all, Strong truly wants to be at Texas. Faced with a question about not being Texas' first choice, he simply replied, "I could have been the 15th choice and would still be so happy to be the head football coach here."
Good luck getting an answer like that out of Nick Saban or Jon Gruden.
Billionaire donor Red McCombs may abhor the fact that Strong isn't a marquee name. The boosters, who have rewarded Brown's friendship with the utmost support, will have a lot to get used to. The Longhorn Network has to adjust its programming schedule.
Red McCombs: "I don't have any doubt Charlie is a fine coach. I think he'd probably make a fine position coach, maybe a coordinator."— ESPN SA (@ESPN1250) January 6, 2014
Red McCombs: "I think they went about it wrong, and I think they made the selction wrong." #hookem— ESPN SA (@ESPN1250) January 6, 2014
But the move to a coach like Strong is exactly what Texas needs. He is all about the game, stating early in his press conference, "I was told I'm a football coach first." Later, he delved into his recruiting plan: "We will close the borders and make sure Austin is the state capital of college football."
This is talk that the two-time national champion can back up. He coached eight All-Americans as a defensive coordinator at Florida, and he turned former quarterback Marcus Smith into a first-team All-American defensive end at Louisville. Not to mention the Cardinals' 23-3 record over the past two years.
#Louisville's Marcus Smith was a 3-star QB out of HS. Now, he's an NFL prospect at DE with 14.5 sacks - some of Charlie Strong's best work.— Chip Brown (@ChipBrownOB) January 6, 2014
Once Strong begins to put his stamp on the program, the higher-ups will overlook the skipped promotional shoots and see the behind-the-scenes coach as the worker he is. Moreover, they will see him as the cure for what has ailed the program over the past four years.
Charlie Strong is just not the next Mack Brown. He's not the president of the American Football Coaches Association, and he probably won't be offered a job as a TV personality.
Strong will, however, be the man behind the turnaround at Texas.