How Long Will It Take Charlie Strong to Take Texas Back from Kevin Sumlin?

Sean Frye@Sean_E_FryeFeatured ColumnistJanuary 16, 2014

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Charlie Strong obviously wants to win Big 12 titles and compete for national championships on a yearly basis with the Texas Longhorns. That's what he expects out of himself, and that's what the fans in Austin expect out of one of the richest programs in the nation. 

But ultimately, Strong's first task is to make the Longhorns the top dog in the Lone Star State.

If Strong can take back the state from Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin, that will shut up guys like Red McCombs and the former Louisville head coach will be well on his way to returning the Longhorns to elite status. 

For Strong to reclaim the state where football means everything, it will start on the recruiting trail. 

In just two years with the Aggies, Sumlin has pieced together some of the best recruiting classes Texas A&M has ever seen. He's famous for his "Swag Copter," an Aggie-themed helicopter that he shows up to recruits' games in all in an effort to stand out and make his presence known. 

Strong has to take that same approach with recruits. He has to have that same swagger, that same mojo as he tries to rebuild a Texas program that has fallen out of favor over the last few years of Mack Brown's tenure. 

Recruiting Class Rankings
YearMack Brown - TexasKevin Sumlin - Texas A&MCharlie Strong - Louisville

In each of the past two seasons, according to 247sports, the Cardinals were ranked outside the top 35 recruiting classes. That's not necessarily attractive to those in Austin who want to see every 5-star recruit put on a Texas ball cap on National Signing Day. 

But keep in mind, Louisville won two bowl games in that span, including the 2013 Sugar Bowl against Florida, and 23 games. Strong knows what type of players he wants and is able to put them in a system that allows everyone to flourish. 

As for the players to recruit, there's really only one place he needs to start.

And that's finding a quarterback. Case McCoy and David Ash have been average at best for the Longhorns since Colt McCoy's departure. That's arguably what led to Brown's downfall with the Longhorns, the fact that he passed on guys like Johnny Manziel, Bryce Petty, Jameis Winston and Robert Griffin III, and instead went with Ash and the younger McCoy. 

Jan 2, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong and quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) celebrate a third quarter touchdown against the Florida Gators during the third quarter of the Sugar Bowl at the Mercedes-Benz Superdom

Strong has a good track record—albeit a short one—of recruiting quarterbacks.

In his four years at Louisville, he was able to lure Teddy Bridgewater to the Cardinals. Keep in mind, Louisville is an AAC (formerly Big East) school located squarely in SEC territory. Bridgewater is from Miami, where the best recruits rarely go farther north than Gainesville. 

But Strong saw something in Bridgewater, who had offers from Florida, LSU, Miami and Tennessee, and was able to secure the man who became arguably Louisville's best quarterback ever and a potential No. 1 pick in this year's NFL draft. 

Not only did Texas struggle to land good signal-callers the past few seasons, but it's also something Sumlin is really good at.

At Houston, he had Case Keenum, who is the only quarterback in FBS history to pass for at least 5,000 yards in three seasons. With the Aggies, he mentored Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel from third-stringer to superstar. 

Once Strong has built up his recruiting base, the Longhorns have to impress their fans on the field. That means defending Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and beating in-state rival opponents. 

Since 2010, the Longhorns have lost 11 games at home. They've also gone just 7-5 against conference opponents from the State of Texas and 1-3 in the last four Red River Rivalry games, which are played at the Cotton Bowl. 

That record versus in-state opponents includes going 1-3 against Baylor with losses to Texas A&M and TCU as well. 

It's simply not good enough in the minds of Texas fans, who believe Austin should be the Vatican of college football. 

But make no mistake about it.

Charlie Strong is a hard-nosed coach who will take back Texas from Kevin Sumlin and Co. It will take about two-to-three seasons for this to unfold as Strong strengthens the Longhorns with his recruits and acclimates the team to his system, but it will happen.


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