Longhorns Nation Can Finally Believe in Charlie Strong After Notre Dame Upset

Greg CouchNational ColumnistSeptember 5, 2016

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 04:  Head coach Charlie Strong of the Texas Longhorns reacts during the first half of the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 4, 2016 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Charlie Strong will never say this, because if he did, it would be the dumbest thing he has ever said. But deep down, he must be thinking it. The best part about beating Notre Dame Sunday night was not the thrill of victory.

It was the thrill of shutting up a bunch of blowhard billionaire buttinskies who think their oil portfolios mean that they know more about football than Strong does. They think he is their plaything and for whatever their ego-driven reasons, they have beaten and badgered Strong for the entirety of his two years trying to rebuild the Longhorns as Texas' head coach. They even ruined his welcoming' press conference.

So he has had to sit quietly, because at Texas, they have the power. And now comes this: Texas 50, Notre Dame 47 in double overtime.

Hey billionaires: Shut the heck up.

WACO, TX - DECEMBER 5: Head coach Charlie Strong of the Texas Longhorns celebrates after the Texas Longhorns defeated the Baylor Bears 23-17 at McLane Stadium on December 5, 2015 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Ron Jenkins/Getty Images

Strong has actually done it. He has Texas back. No, the Longhorns aren't going to contend for the College Football Playoff this year, but they are a power in the Big 12 again. Just like that, they have emerged back ahead of Oklahoma, which lost, and Baylor, which disgraced itself off the field, and are back in the national discussion again.

The thing is, now Strong has something to sell: Belief. I always thought he had the ability to fix it, but not to sell it.

Texas is a different kind of a job. Too many people have too much power, and they want the world to look at them as if they have all the biggest, splashiest and flashiest things. Well, Strong fumbles his words in public and sits on his hands, as he did at his opening press conference when he got the job. He's a good man who knows his defense and believes in young men behaving well together to build a foundation. He insists on it, and building takes time.

When he was hired, the good-ol' billionaires felt as if they had settled. They wanted Nick Saban. So big-dollar Red McCombs said that Strong was a good man and would probably be a good coordinator. But not a head coach. He said on ESPN radio that the school hiring Strong for the head coaching job was "a kick in the face.''

Just...shut...up.

Blowhards don't build football teams. Coaches and players do. Dollars don't do it. Hard work does. (Dollars help).

What Strong showed Sunday night was a willingness to adapt. He adapted his offense to the times and also the talent he had. It was freshman quarterback Shane Buechele throwing the ball around and moving the team through space. Then it was Tyrone Swoopes replacing Buechele and pounding the ball when the team got close to the end zone.

Shane Buechele gave the Texas offense life again.
Shane Buechele gave the Texas offense life again.Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Swoopes did it in double overtime, running over four Notre Dame players to get down to the 6-yard line. And then plowing in a few minutes later, after they cleared an injured Irish player off the field, for the win.

Strong showed flexibility. Texas showed up with a super fast, hurry-up offense and at times, Notre Dame wasn't even at the line ready for Texas' snap.

First off, say this: College football really got it right this year. Instead of major teams beating a bunch of nobodies by 72 points, this opening weekend was one big-time matchup after another. It was Alabama-USC, LSU-Wisconsin, Houston-Oklahoma. Monday night is Florida State-Ole Miss.

And on Sunday night, two of the tradition-richest programs of all, Texas and Notre Dame, had a block of prime time all to themselves.

During the weekend, the big upset—no offense to Houston—was unranked Wisconsin over national-title contender LSU. Every year, LSU is picked as a contender, basically, and then we find out that it doesn't have a quarterback or an offense from this century. This year was going to be different.

And then it wasn't. And LSU coach Les Miles is never going to survive this season now without a win over Alabama. He simply will not adjust to the modern game. At all.

Texas had no quarterback and no offense last year, either. It also had a losing record. So Strong made the switch.

Actually, he tried to make the switch last year, but then switched again. Or maybe he switched back. It's hard to say, really, how many offensive incarnations Strong has actually put into place in his two-years-plus-one-game tenure at Texas. But somehow he landed on Sterlin Gilbert as his new offensive coordinator.

Strong found someone who could not only modernize his offense, but also give him a good ol' boy to sell to the billionaires. Gilbert is a disciple of Baylor's ex-coach Art Briles, who had taken Baylor right past Texas before Strong arrived.

To Texas people, Briles would count as "one of us," while Strong has struggled to find that acceptance. And Gilbert? He coached in Texas high schools, was born in San Angelo, Texas, and played quarterback for Angelo State.

Meanwhile, Baylor's offense was looking modern under Briles, and Texas' looked like a stick in the mud. You put all that together and mix in Baylor's sexual assault scandal that led to Briles being pushed out, and you found that Strong had made his way in.

Sep 4, 2016; Austin, TX, USA;  Texas Longhorns players lift up head coach Charlie Strong after the victory against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

He had bought himself another year.

Well, now he has taken control for real. You can never fully push aside the rich boys, but they are going to have to work with him now. Maybe even accept him.

Former Texas and Green Bay Packers star Jermichael Finley is not one of the billionaires, but on Sunday, he tweeted "UPSET That's what I'm talking about #Longhorns.''

Really? Was that what he was talking about? Because last year, he tweeted this: 

It will be interesting to hear what the billionaires say now. Or, you know what would be even more interesting?

Not hearing.

  

Greg Couch covers college football for Bleacher Report. Follow him at @gregcouch.

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