There’s very little credit left for Charlie Strong at Texas. Into his third season as the head coach of the Longhorns, things just don’t seem to be improving, and so his now leaked players-coaches meeting about “airing it out” might be a last ditch effort to save his job at Austin.
Strong was hired in 2014 after four successful seasons with Louisville, which included going 37-15, two top 15 finished, winning the Sugar Bowl in 2013, and winning the conference (Big East at the time) twice. Texas were reeling from the end of Mack Brown’s tenure, hiring who seemed to be a hot, rising star in the coaching world of college football. Patience is never a strong quality among Texas supporters/front office/boosters, but Strong wasn’t expected to turn things around in one season.
He’s into his third year. Texas went 6-7 in 2014, making it to a bowl game. They went 5-7 in 2015. It’s 2016. Strong’s recruits are in place. They began with two wins over Notre Dame and UTEP. Quickly it turned out Notre Dame aren’t that good (2-4 by now). Texas defense isn’t that good either, and the Longhorns have lost their last three games, including going 0-2 in the Big 12, with a loss to Oklahoma. In four of their five games this season, they’ve given up 45 points or more. Texas don’t seem to be back, even with a productive offense. They might be even worse off than before. It’s not too far fetched to consider Strong not making it out of year 2 had he lost in the Red River Shootout to Oklahoma in 2015.
And so comes the meeting, slowly leaking out more details on Twitter and through other avenues. D’Onta Foreman, the running back who might be the team’s best player this season, called out others on effort. He talks especially about the defense, a specific player on defense, and a specific unit on defense, including the positional coach.
Freshman defensive lineman Andrew Fitzgerald said he doesn’t feel any kind of effort from other pass rushers. Another freshman lineman, Malcolm Roach, pointed out that players on this team don’t seem to be hungry. The defense and the staff have been blamed by the media since the beginning of the season, with Strong no longer getting the support he used to from the more patient fans. No one is talking about the clash of cultures and getting used to how Strong works. More and more people are talking about how Strong simply rode Teddy Bridgewater to success and recognition.
Texas are facing a 1-5 Iowa State team next. The Cyclones, who went 3-9 last season, won one of their games against Texas. It wasn’t just a win, but a shutout, holding the Longhorns to 0 points while scoring 24 on them. That was the last time they won a Big 12 game. Texas losing to Iowa State, with 0 points or while scoring 50, might not lead to Strong being fired immediately, but it’s certainly going to mark another waypoint in what looks more and more like his final season as the head coach of Texas.