Wow! What a debacle Saturday night in Ames, Iowa. Getting shutout 24-0 to an Iowa State team that has won one conference game in a season and a half is beyond embarrassing. When Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads says in the post- game press conference, “I don’t know how this comes across. But, I’ll say this anyway. We shouldn’t beat Texas, probably. Every kid that they recruit, if I go recruit them, I’m not going to get them. Ok? But, we did and we have twice because the program’s moving in the right direction,” that is a slap in the face of The University of Texas football program. This begs the question does Charlie Strong survive this football season?
Texas, just coming off back to back wins over then #10 Oklahoma and Kansas State, looked like they were ready to turn the corner. To say the Longhorns came out flat against Iowa State is an understatement, listless might not even begin to explain that performance. How is it that a team can look so complete in three wins this season and so lifeless in four of their five losses? In three true road games this season Texas has been outscored to the tune of 112-10 points. When Texas is bad, they are really bad. Does Charlie Strong not have the pulse of this team? Is he just flat out being outcoached? Strong seems to think Texas was outcoached, as pointed out in a tweet from the Austin-American Stateman Kirk Bohls: “I’m told Charlie Strong “cussed out” his Texas staff after the Iowa State loss, told them staff “had been out coached.”
After the goodwill built up from the last two wins this loss starts the roller coaster ride of Charlie Strong’s future as head coach of UT. Rightfully so. There are issues with this team that go beyond just play on the field. Charlie Strong has been trying to change the culture of this team for the last year and a half, but it appears that not everyone is on board. This lack of teamwork is splintering a team that wasn’t very good to begin with. Senior LB Peter Jinkens at media day summed it up, “I don’t think everyone on the team is buying into what we’re trying to do. There’s still some individualism on the team. For us to be successful, we’re going to have to fix that. I feel like this cycle keeps continuing because we have people on the team who don’t want to give it up for the team…We weren’t focused the week before in practice, I can say that.” The lack of leadership for the Longhorns is showing its ugly head and is translating to the lack of preparation and execution during practice and ultimately during game day. That quote by Jinkens just oozes of attitude reflects leadership. Charlie Strong has accepted the blame for not having the team prepared and being out coached, because he has too. It starts at the top.
Losing brings out the worst in everyone, fans and boosters alike. If Texas had beaten California and Oklahoma State they would be sitting at 5-3 right now. That didn’t happen and sitting at 3-5, coming off a loss like that, warrants this discussion. To be honest, I’m not so sure that this discussion would be happening if the majority of losses were competitive. It isn’t that Texas lost, it is how badly those losses have occurred. I believe that the most football educated fans truly believe that Charlie Strong needs at least another year to get this program turned around with his guys. Unfortunately, I’m not so sure he gets that shot. There is a faction of the fan base that never wanted Charlie at UT in the first place. Couple that with a faction of boosters that never wanted Charlie here in the first place and the squeaky wheels are getting louder and louder. It shows by the lack of attendance at games this year. If Texas has multiple losses by large margins down the stretch I don’t believe that he will survive as head coach. The boosters will find a way to force Charlie Strong out the door.
I like Charlie Strong a lot. I think he is the right man for the job and given time can turn the Texas program around. Having said that, did Charlie bite off more than he could chew? Is the Texas program too big for a man that only has 5 full years of head coaching experience? I don’t mean just coaching football, as he certainly has that experience, I’m talking about all the peripheral things that go along with being the head coach at Texas. I don’t think he is invested 100% anymore. Just look at is body language during press conferences, he looks beat down. He looks uncomfortable like he doesn’t want to be here, the pressure of being the head coach at the University of Texas is turning Charlie into a shell of the man that he is. I honestly do not think Charlie Strong will be at Texas next year. He’s looking for a way out either by being let go or taking another job. I think he sees the writing on the wall.
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