"Do what I ask you to do. It's not hard." — Charlie Strong
There's no denying Strong, in his first year as Texas' head coach, has intensity. He carries it with him wherever he goes, and he's not afraid to flaunt it, even if he says he doesn't want to be feared.
"Just look at me," Strong joked at Big 12 media days. "I don't think they [the players] get afraid of me at all."
Nervous reporters everywhere agreed meekly.
Strong has a set of five core values—honesty, treating women with respect, no drugs, no stealing and no weapons—that he expects all players, from first-stringers to walk-ons, to abide by. Run afoul of the values, run afoul of Strong. Run afoul of Strong, start looking for a new place to play college football. Five players found this out the hard way this week.
|Player attrition under Charlie Strong|
|Chet Moss||Fullback||Senior||March 16||Violation of team rules|
|Leroy Scott||Defensive back||Senior||March 16||Violation of team rules|
|Kendall Sanders||Wide receiver||Junior||July 24||Arrest: Sexual Assault|
|Montrel Meander||Wide receiver||Redshirt freshman||July 24||Arrest: Sexual Assault|
|Chevoski Collins||Defensive back||Redshirt freshman||July 24||Violation of team rules|
|Jalen Overstreet||Running back||Redshirt sophomore||July 24||Violation of team rules|
|Joe Bergeron||Running back||Senior||July 25||Not specified|
|Josh Turner||Defensive back||Senior||July 25||Violation of team rules|
|Kendall Thompson||Linebacker||Senior||July 25||Health|
"I tell 'em right away, if you don't want to be a part of this football team, break a core value," Strong said, per Anwar Richardson of Orangebloods.com.
It started in March when Texas announced that fullback Chet Moss and junior defensive back Leroy Scott had been dismissed for violating team rules. It seemed relatively normal; dismissals with first-year coaches happen all the time.
Then, as Stevie Ray Vaughn would say, the Texas flood came.
On Thursday, Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman reported that Strong suspended wide receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander for their alleged role in a sexual assault incident that occurred in June. Sanders and Meander were arrested on felony sexual assault charges.
Strong told Chip Brown of HornsDigest.com at media days that the players at the center of the investigation, previously unidentified, were "away from the team."
Thursday night, Taylor Gaspar of Orangebloods.com reported that defensive back Chevoski Collins and running back Jalen Overstreet had been dismissed from the team due to a violation of team rules.
"And this was apparently not the first time the two have violated the same rule," Gaspar wrote, noting that Collins and Overstreet were two of four players banned from team activities in the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Center this summer.
Strong wasn't done. Not even close.
Friday morning, Richardson reported that running back Joe Bergeron was no longer with the team, though no reason was given. Gaspar reported in April that Bergeron would miss the remainder of spring to focus on academics.
Interestingly, Strong said during media days that Bergeron was "back in the mix" after dealing with his off-field obligations. That was Tuesday. What a difference a couple of days makes, apparently.
The loss of Bergeron and Overstreet puts more stress on Texas' running back depth, which features senior Malcolm Brown and sophomore Johnathan Gray, who is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury.
But wait. There was more. According to Chip Brown of HornsDigest.com, two more players—senior safety Josh Turner and senior linebacker Kendall Thompson—were dismissed from the program. However, Jeff Howe of 247Sports later tweeted that Thompson's departure was injury-related.
Still, those are six dismissals/suspensions in a day's time. As Dustin McComas of Orangebloods.com tweeted, Strong hasn't been messing around:
Strong's disciplinary attitude isn't new. First-year coaches have made their stance clear before by dismissing or suspending players who don't buy in to the new rules.
Furthermore, this is less about Strong "cleaning up the program" as much as it is about players getting on his page. Remember, Strong, previously at Louisville, added former Auburn running back Michael Dyer to the Cardinals roster last year—and Dyer had off-field issues.
It's not about wins or losses either. Strong has made that abundantly clear by sidestepping questions about expectations. Now, it's easy to see why: He's more focused on the expectations he has for his players.
Where the dismissals hurt the Longhorns most is depth, especially at running back. As Max Olson of ESPN.com writes, more dismissals could be coming. Who is potentially on that list could determine how much of an impact it has.
But Strong noted during media days that fall practice is when "you put your team together." This team, in both attitude and numbers, will look significantly different than this time a year ago.
Maybe Strong is the coach Texas needs to get back in the national championship picture. Maybe he isn't. Regardless, he's going to do things his way. That much he's made clear.
Ben Kercheval is a lead writer for college football at Bleacher Report. All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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