Texas Football: Charlie Strong's Mission to Win Back the State of Texas

Taylor Gaspar@Taylor_GasparFeatured ColumnistFebruary 10, 2014

The Texas team runs onto the field before the start of an NCAA college football game against Oklahoma State, Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Michael Thomas)
Michael Thomas/Associated Press

The Texas Longhorns have a new face of the football program, and the face has a significant challenge ahead of him.

Head coach Charlie Strong signed 23 athletes to the Longhorns 2014 recruiting class, which ranked No. 20 in the Rivals.com team rankings. Not bad considering Strong had 30 days to move his family to Austin, assemble a new coaching staff and keep the 2014 recruiting class intact.

But Strong has larger expectations for his future recruiting classes.

"What we wanted to do was keep this class together and let our coaches just get out there and develop relationships within the state," Strong said in his national signing day press conference. "We know that we can do a lot better and we will do a lot better recruiting knowing that we have control over the state and get our work done."

Former athletic director DeLoss Dodds has been quoted—and sometimes ridiculed—for once saying the Longhorns "are the Joneses" of "Keeping up with the Joneses." In Dodds' resignation press conference, Austin American Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls asked Dodds if Texas is still the Joneses. Dodds said, "Kirk, that was said to you one day when I was upset with you and I have regretted that ever since."

Upset or not, Bohls brought up a good question: Is the University of Texas still "the Joneses?" 

It is no secret that in state rival schools have made significant progress in the recruiting field due to the Longhorns inconsistency. But Texas has slipped further behind in state rivals than some fans may have noticed.

David J. Phillip/Associated Press

In a recent survey of Dallas-Fort Worth high school coaches, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reported the "in" program among the Metroplex area recruits is Texas A&M, followed by Baylor. 

It is now up to Strong to change the way of the Longhorns recruiting in order to win the state of Texas back from the up-and-coming Aggies and Bears.

And that task will not be easy.

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and Baylor head coach Art Briles may have different recruiting styles, but both of them have been successful. It's easy to credit Sumlin for bringing swag back to the Aggies, and his Swagcopter is a perfect example of that.

Briles may not have a Swagcopter, but he has helped bring Baylor to prominence, with Heisman trophy winner Robert Griffin III and winning the Big 12 Championship in 2013. And as Nike's Tiger Woods' ad said, winning takes care of everything.

The first order of business for Strong is to win. Period. 

But until Texas takes the field again, Strong and his staff have to focus on what it will take for his current roster to win and how to take back the state of Texas in 2015 and future recruiting classes.

When asked about his 2015 recruiting class, Strong said, "You're always trying to form the stages, but I will say this, you have 25 scholarships to give out. Who are the top 10 players? Let's go get the top 10. Who are the next ten or the guys who just fit your needs where you can build around because when you get the second ten, you are going to build around those.

"You take the other five and see if there is a late bloomer out there. There is going to be someone out there that isn't going to make an early decision. Let's make sure we save a scholarship there."

Of the Rivals250 recruits for 2015, Texas A&M has seven verbal commits and Baylor has two verbal commits—all of whom are 4-star Texans. Texas has one verbal commitment from Patrick Vahe, who just so happens to be the cousin of former Texas verbal commits turned LSU commits Sione and Maea Teuhema. 

Strong has a lot of ground to make up for, and not a ton of time to do so. But if Nike's Tiger Woods ad is correct, then winning will take care of all of the Longhorns issues.

Texas fans have about 200 days to figure out if the Longhorns can win, and if winning will actually be the cure to Texas' woes.


Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.

Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's lead writer covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow Taylor on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.