What went wrong with Charlie Strong and the Texas Longhorns?
With Charlie Strong becoming USF's next head coach, the Bulls are obviously hoping that Strong learned from his disastrous tenure at Texas.
Which raises the question: What went wrong with Strong and the Longhorns?
Five thoughts from afar:
1. He inherited a tough situation. The old saying goes that you never want to be the guy who replaces a legend - you want to be the guy who follows the guy who replaces a legend. Well Strong replaced Mack Brown, who won one national championship with the ‘Horns and coached for another. It's worth remembering, too, that a prominent booster called Strong's hire a "kick in the face" soon after it was announced. Not exactly a great start to any relationship.
2. Cleaning the culture is tough. Strong punished half a dozen players (dismissing at least three) before even coaching a game at Texas. That's part of the cleaning-up process, which schools like to tout. The problem is, that leads to a lack of depth, which leads to losses (see: Muschamp, Will). Here's what SI wrote on that in July 2014: Discipline and establishing a baseline of expectations is important, and Texas fans need to show patience - something they've had trouble doing in the past - but Strong won't get an unlimited amount of time to make things work. These are the Longhorns, after all, and winning matters.
3. Defense. In three seasons, the ‘Horns were No. 32, 87 and 89 nationally in scoring defense (getting worse each year). In the last two seasons, Texas was No. 70 and 62 in yards per play allowed. You can attribute some of that to the Big 12's potent offenses, but when you're a head coach with a defensive background, those numbers do not inspire confidence.
4. Assistant hires didn't work out. Eight significant assistant coaches left, according to the Dallas Morning News. Offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert installed a new system after two seasons, which didn't allow for continuity and growth. Some of the changes happened because the previous way of doing things wasn't working, but coaching turnover doesn't usually lead to wins, at least not immediately.
5. Close losses. Strong's ‘Horns were 6-10 in games decided by eight or fewer points. When one of those losses is to Kansas in overtime, you can see why fans were upset, and why it might be fair to question how Strong managed games.