Big 12 Sports Articles

How Twitter helped save Charlie Strong at Texas

Charlie Strong believes social media will be the downfall of society, possibly because it seemed like his doom as coach at the University of Texas. Social media mishaps plagued Texas’ season. During halftime of the TCU annihilation over the Longhorns, freshman cornerback Kris Boyd retweeted a Texas A&M fan’s imploration to transfer to College Station. Senior safety Dylan Haines called out the underclassmen’s work ethic to the media, compelling the youngins to reply on Twitter. Heck, somebody from the Texas Rangers twitter account forgot to log in to their own account and said, “Fire Charlie.” One things for certain, Charlie Strong hates Twitter.



Strong was floating face down in the Colorado River. His seat was so hot following blowouts to Notre Dame and TCU that his head-coaching career at Texas apparently burst into flames. Charlie’s first team produced an uninspiring 6-7 record. The offense played dreadful his first season. Strong vowed to modernize the offense to the whole no-huddle, fast paced gambit. One game into his second season, the offensive play-caller was demoted. The athletic director who hired Strong was fired a few weeks later. The locker room turned on itself. If Strong let his bald head grow some hair, greys would have proliferated. Texas real estate agents apparently needed to start searching for land needed for pipedreams Nick Saban’s or Chip Kelly’s new home. Then, suddenly after one victory over Oklahoma, Chuck found himself crossing streams into the Red River, face-up.

A Texas football program dogged by no offensive identity, terrible run defense and the penalty bug rallied together against rival Oklahoma, winning 24-17. The Horns ran the ball for 313 yards, sacked Baker Mayfield six times, and, simply, looked the better team on the field. What happened after the game was even more special – Twitter saved Charlie Strong.


The narrative shifted. In a man-bun, hipster, antidisestablishmentarianism fashion, it became cool to support Charlie Strong as head-coach. The social media masses declared it was wrong for Strong to be on the hot seat. How could a coach a year-and-a-half in on the job be on the hot seat?  But, judging by the celebration after the victory, everyone understood Charlie was in trouble. Why else would players throw their head coach on their shoulders five games into a season? Yes, Oklahoma is Satan to Texas faithful, but players usually celebrate, not coaches. Strong gave out high-fives like his hand was getting amputated the next day. The media caught on, saying Strong was safe.



The Les Miles and Charlie Strong job security questions reigned parallels. Miles and LSU was a quicker timeline. Miles was gone, according to reports, saying boosters rounded the money to buyout the current contract. Basically, boosters lost faith in Miles.

In Texas, from day one, boosters never had faith in Charlie. Red McCombs, prominent booster who has an area in the Texas stadium named after him, said hiring Strong was a “kick in the face.” Boosters wanted Saban. Or Jon Gruden. Even UCLA’s Jim Mora was mentioned. Boosters did not want Charlie Strong.

Miles and Strong’s hot seat rumors ended the same way – players’ love for the coach convinced fans of the idiocy of the coaches’ hot seat. The public perception forced the boosters to keep coaches they didn’t want.

Strong’s succeeded at Texas, even though many say he’s been a major disappointment. He inherited a crumbling program with an unimpressive roster and an immoral culture. Strong implemented a code of conduct, and then kicked nine players off the program who didn’t oblige. From beginning of this past season to the end, the team noticeably improved. Yes, performance was inconsistent, but the team consistently played 17 freshmen. The program’s definitively heading towards a better future. But, booster support still wavers, and nothing is more indicative of that than the chaotic offensive coordinator hiring process.

TCU co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie was option one for the vacant Texas position. Cumbie reportedly declined the offer because the program couldn’t assure Strong would be around after the 2016 season. Option two was Tulsa co-offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert. Chaos ensued.

Gilbert accepted the job, then declined it, reportedly, all within a 24-hour span. Twitter exploded. Social media saved Strong, again. A Tulsa coach not accepting a job at the University of Texas degraded the program’s prestige more than any losses the past two seasons. The Texas president, Athletic Director, and Charlie Strong all flew to Tulsa, not ready to take no for an answer. Miscommunication during contract negotiations apparently was the reason for Gilbert’s rejection. True or not, the miscommunication between Strong and administrators was more frightening.

Again, higher-ups put Strong in a position of failure. By not guaranteeing job safety, Strong couldn’t hire Cumbie, somebody he believed would make the team better. With Gilbert, the discrepancy happened because Strong offered one year less and less money than originally believed. But this begs the question, why is Strong handling contractual negotiations to begin with?

Strong’s been placed on an island, with no outside help. Strong has not been flawless his first two years as coach, but he’s made more right steps than wrong, despite boosters and administrators lack of support. If Strong gets more than another year as head-coach, he can thank social media – something he hates – for helping him, because nobody at Texas has.

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