There has been some outside thoughts that the Texas football program has fallen far from the tree by not getting a "big name" hire, but, per B/R's Alex Sims in his Jan. 10 article, Strong is an excellent coach.
The Texas Longhorns brought in an excellent coach in Louisville's Charlie Strong, a coach many programs would be thrilled to have.
But for UT—and perhaps only for UT—the hire seems underwhelming. Like going to a fancy $50-a-plate event, only to eat with flimsy college dining hall silverware. The gourmet meal is still great, but something about the experience is missing.
Although Strong could be just the man to lead Texas back to the top, it is still a wonder why the program wasn't able to pull some of the big names (Nick Saban, Jimbo Fisher, Jim Harbaugh) that were mentioned along the way.
But when coach after coach entered and left the conversation and the bowl season came and went, it was clear: Texas just isn't what it used to be.
Texas just isn't what it used to be after losing the 2010 BCS National Championship game. The Longhorns' program never truly recovered after that season. Now, the correct coaching hire appears to be changing that loss of swagger.
First reported by Bobby Burton of 247Sports.com, Texas would indeed hire Strong not even a week after the 2013 Russell Athletic Bowl. While some may argue that the short time length of the head coaching hire shows how far Texas has fallen, Sims does make an astute observation in his article with regard to the supporters:
"The Texas they know is gone."
It's true, the culture at Texas is in for a major change with Strong at the helm. The old ways from the previous four seasons and possibly beyond are gone. According to Tex, the Longhorns are in for a huge culture shock. He highlights the changes and Strong's expectations, per sources, in his January article:
Players will attend all of their classes and sit in the front two rows of all of their classes. GAs, academic folks, position coaches will be checking constantly now.
No headphones in class. No texting in class. Sit up and take notes.
If a player misses a class, he runs until it hurts. If he misses two classes, his entire position unit runs. If he misses three, the position coach runs. The position coaches don't want to run.
No earrings in the football building. No drugs. No stealing. No guns. Treat women with respect.
Players may not live off campus anymore, unless they're a senior who hits certain academic standards. The University will buy out the leases for every player currently living off campus and put them in the athletic dorm.
The team will all live together, eat together, suffer together, and hang out together. They will become a true team and learn to impose accountability on each other. The cliques are over.
There's no time for a rebuild. "I don't have time for that." The expectation is that Texas wins now.
Players will learn that they would rather practice than milk a minor injury.
The focus is on winning and graduating. Anything extraneous to that is a distraction and will be stamped out or removed.
Strong met individually with seniors and key leaders and re-emphasized that the plan is to win now. They can lead the new culture or be run over by it.
"I don't want to talk about things. I'd rather do things. We just talked. Now it's time to do."
These expectations will weed out the weak and strengthen the already strong. While all these expectations will shape young men over the upcoming years, expectation No. 7 is the most important for supporters to read. "There's no time for a rebuild. 'I don't have time for that.' The expectation is that Texas wins now."
That's a huge change from the last several years. Former head coach Mack Brown focused on rebuilding the program after going 5-7 in 2010. It seemed like a slow process starting with "brick-by-brick" as the motto for the 2011 team, as reported by Jim Vertuno of the Associated Press (via SportsDay DFW) in a Feb. 24, 2011 article.
Brown has closed most of his team practices for several years, but said he decided to close them all this year because he doesn’t want any distractions for himself, his players and his staff during his “brick-by-brick” team reconstruction. Not after the first losing season at Texas in 13 years.
“We’ve got to start over and we’re rebuilding a foundation at every level: offense, defense, special teams, credibility, strength and conditioning, swagger, body language, chemistry, everything,” Brown said.
The most important detail from all the expectations and gatherings is that Strong is ready to instill a toughness back into Texas—the program that once contained hard hitters such as Earl Thomas and gritty lineman such as Brian Orakpo. The Texas that has been labeled soft by ESPN's College GameDay (see embedded video) appears to be no more with Strong's expectations.
Sims hits it right on target in his previously mentioned article, "Texas finally connected with UL's Strong. The Longhorns brought in a great coach; one who will quickly bring some nasty to the too-nice Texas defense."
With athletic director Steve Patterson hiring Strong, this is the right fit to shock the culture and bring the tenacity back to Texas. The program proved that it could get any coach it wanted, but Patterson only made one offer—to Strong, per Chuck Carlton of The Dallas Morning News in his Jan. 5, 2014 article.
Strong's expectations are the first step in showing Texas is back. Now, the product over the next two years must reflect that.
University of Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops went 7-5 in his first year with that program after he was previously the defensive coordinator for the Florida Gators. The next year, the Sooners—ranked seventh in scoring defense and eighth in total defense, per NCAA.org—won the BCS National Championship.
Is that the blueprint for Strong?