The Texas Longhorns lost to Kansas on Saturday 24-21 in overtime. It’s the first time the program has lost to the Jayhawks since 1938. In the aftermath, it has become clear that Charlie Strong is likely done as the team’s head coach. However, rather than firing Strong and having an interim coach for the team’s last game against TCU, the university is forcing him to trot out there on Friday, before likely giving him the axe on Saturday to pursue other options.
Let’s get a couple things straight. Firing Charlie Strong is an understandable decision. Strong is 16-20 in his nearly three years at the helm of the program and that’s just not acceptable at a job like Texas. It is also true that I dislike calling for anyone to lose their job, and I believe Strong to still be a good coach despite his tenure here at Texas.
Now, having said all of that, the Texas football program is a mess. They have been for some time now. Don’t believe me? Just look at how they handled the firing/resignation/firing of Mack Brown. Or, their failed attempt to bring in Nick Saban while Brown was still technically the head coach. Then, after hiring Charlie Strong, one of the university’s top boosters, Red McCombs said the following:
“I think the whole thing is a bit sideways. I don’t have any doubt that Charlie is a fine coach. I think he would make a great position coach, maybe a coordinator. But I don’t believe [he belongs at] what should be one of the three most powerful university programs in the world right now at UT-Austin. I don’t think it adds up.”
Yeah, that’s a great way to start your tenure. Since then, if you’ve followed the program, it’s been a constant roller coaster of whether or not Strong would keep his job. Now, they can’t even fire him properly and forced him to trot out and give a press conference on Monday morning at which it was said that he’ll be “evaluated” following the TCU game.
All of this illustrates one thing clearly: Texas has entirely too many cooks in the kitchen. Rather than the traditional power tree of school president, athletic director, head coach. Texas’ has so many branches that have a say in who should be coaching the program that it’s somehow become an almost unappealing job. Sure, Texas has more money than 90 percent of college football schools. Plus, they have a fertile recruiting base right in their home state to draw players from. But, with how they’ve handled themselves in the last five years, if you were a top coaching candidate, would you want to go there?
That’s not to say they won’t get their man and bring in Houston’s Tom Herman as has been widely reported. Herman may restore the glory of the burnt orange and this may all go down as a footnote in program history. Of course, despite those wide reports, we’ve had reports from Brian Jones, an alum of the school, saying that some boosters have cooled on Herman and now want Dabo Swinney from Clemson. Meanwhile, according to Bobby Burton of 247 Sports the president, chancellor and athletic director aren’t set on a particular candidate at the moment.
It’s not that the school continues to look for the coach that will bring it back to national prominence. It’s that there is a constant sense of lack of unity and consensus among the power brokers surrounding the program.
These latest reports just confirm what we already knew: The program is a mess. There’s not a clear unified direction. Until there is one, the program is likely to remain out in the wilderness struggling mightily to recapture its former glory.