There’s a new sheriff in Austin named Charlie Strong and he is taking over the University of Texas football team with a plan that he is sticking to. The plan is called cleaning house and Strong really means business. On Friday, July 25, the new Longhorns head coach dismissed safety Josh Turner [AS OF 8/2, status is questionable] and running back Joe Bergeron, each for an undisclosed violation of team rules.
This came just after backup running back Jalen Overstreet and defensive back Chevoski Collins were sent packing the day before. In addition to Overstreet and Collins, Strong publicly suspended receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander that same day after they were charged with felony sexual assault. Their case was a no-brainer and makes six players in total off the Texas roster who made an impact last season.
Bergeron may be the most surprising player dismissed as Strong praised him during spring ball and the back figured to challenge Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown for carries. For Sanders and Meander, their charge carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence if convicted. Meanwhile, the UT athletic department has not officially confirmed Strong’s player dismissals. The shock of the turn of events must still be in effect.
Strong is a young, tough, no-nonsense kind of guy. Some may say a disciplinarian. He truly has to be in order for him to turn around one of the most recognized college football programs in the country.
Mack Brown sat at the helm for 16 years. He was an icon not only in Austin, but across the state of Texas. Under Brown, the Longhorns won the National Championship in 2005. However, in his final four seasons, they were a combined 30-21. Simply put, that’s not up to Texas standards. Strong’s goal shouldn’t be to fill Brown’s shoes. Instead, he must continue to form his own identity as head coach of the Longhorns, something he is doing quite well to start his tenure.
Not only is Strong changing the culture of Longhorns football, he is changing the landscape of the sport as we know. His signing for the 120-year old Texas football program was a first. As in, Strong is the first African-American head coach they have ever had. It really is an identity that extends beyond the sidelines.
For a head coach who only has four years experience at the position, he certainly is beginning his first-year at UT like a veteran looking to leave his mark. Coming from Louisville, a member of the Big East (now the American Athletic Conference) and heading to the Atlantic Coast Conference this year, where he was the head coach from 2010-2013, it will be a different transition to Big 12 play. In those four years with the Cardinals, Strong guided them to an overall record of 37-15. That included four consecutive trips to bowl games, coming out on top in three of them. Let’s not forget Strong also served as the interim head coach for Florida in their 2004 bowl game. He has some quality experience, and a lot of times it’s about the quality, not the quantity.
Whether it’s inspiring a generation of football players and coaches through the history he has made at Texas in his short time, changing the culture of Longhorns football, or cementing his identity as a leader, Charlie Strong is the right man for the job in Austin.
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