Updates from Monday, Sept. 8
Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman passed along comments from head coach Charlie Strong on the suspended players:
Strong said Estelle and Harrison are basically down to last strike. "They won't be here if they break another (core value)."— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) September 8, 2014
Updates from Thursday, Sept. 4
Coach Charlie Strong commented on the suspensions via Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News:
Charlie Strong talks OL suspensions on radio show: "It won’t become a distraction. We’re not going to allow it to become a distraction."— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) September 5, 2014
More Strong: “When you have 95 percent doing it the right way and 5 percent sitting on the fence, sometimes you have to clear that fence.”— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) September 5, 2014
Add another pair to the ever-growing list of players Texas head coach Charlie Strong has dismissed from his roster. Offensive linemen Kennedy Estelle and Desmond Harrison were the latest given their walking papers, as reported first by Dustin McComas and Anwar Richardson of OrangeBloods.com:
Texas has not yet confirmed either dismissal, but Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News confirms that the two have been suspended for this week's game against BYU:
Official from Texas: OTs Desmond Harrison and Kennedy Estelle suspended for Saturday's game with BYU for violation of team rules.— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) September 4, 2014
Chip Brown of Hornsdigest.com added:
#Texas says in a statement OTs Desmond Harrison and Kennedy Estelle are just "suspended" for BYU game. But HD has been told it's indefinite.— Chip Brown (@ChipBrownHD) September 4, 2014
Estelle and Harrison were expected to be the Longhorns' starting tackles this season. Estelle was in the lineup during the team's 38-7 victory over North Texas on Saturday. There has been no indication of why either player was dismissed; Estelle played and seemed in fine form as Strong got his first win in Austin.
ESPN's Max Olson notes how this impacts the offensive line:
Texas OL entered 2013 season with 124 career starts, most in FBS. The starting OL this week will have 5.— Max Olson (@max_olson) September 4, 2014
Estelle, a junior, was suspended by previous head coach Mack Brown for violation of team policy before last year's Alamo Bowl loss. It was later reported he was ruled academically ineligible for the game. When Strong began to look into players who might not fit the image of his program, Estelle was one of the players who received attention before making the roster.
Harrison, a senior, was initially suspended alongside wide receiver Daje Johnson and safety Josh Turner during the summer. He sat out Saturday's win and was reinstated to the program on Monday only to be kicked off two days later. Harrison was expected to be the team's starting left tackle.
"We have core values within this program. We expect our players to abide by those values," Strong told reporters when initially suspending Harrison. "You take away something that's important to them— and football is really important to a lot of these players—and you make sure that with the games taken away from them, they understand how important it is to represent this great university not only on the field but off."
The dismissal of Estelle and Harrison comes as merely the latest in what's become a purge at Texas. Strong, who took over for Brown after an elongated coaching search, arrived claiming he would clean up the program on and off the field.
He's definitely done the former, dismissing numerous players, dishing out a ton of suspensions and taking a surprisingly hard-line approach. Players are being kicked off an suspended to the point where it's a legitimate concern whether Strong will be able to field a competitive team.
Without Estelle and Harrison, Texas is dangerously thin and inexperienced across its offensive line. Marcus Hutchins, who started for Harrison against North Texas, will likely wind up the full-time left tackle. Strong will have his choice of players to line up on the right side, but it'll be interesting to see which direction he goes. Some of his prospective options already moved inside during camp under the assumption Estelle and Harrison would be on the outside.
Texas will also be without senior center Dominic Espinosa, who suffered a broken ankle in Week 1 and will miss the remainder of the season, per Jeff Howe of 247Sports.
With only a handful of days to prepare for BYU, Strong again has a bit of a mess on his hands. Texas can survive with a makeshift offensive line against the likes of North Texas, but BYU is no joke and the Longhorns are about 10 days away from a clash with No. 11 UCLA.
Strong has said time and again that his most important goal is changing the culture. He's inarguably made massive headway in doing so. It'll just be interesting to see if he'll be able to mix a culture change with a solid win-loss record in 2014.
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter