The Texas Longhorns fired coach Charlie Strong on Saturday, officially ending the embattled coach’s three-year tenure with the program.
There wasn’t a coaching seat hotter than Charlie Strong’s for quite some time, and on Saturday it finally became vacant. The Texas Longhorns have officially fired Strong, a move that ends a tenure during which Strong failed to live up to potentially unrealistic expectations. Texas officials met with the coaching staff on Saturday morning and ultimately made the decision to move on.
The rumors of Strong’s dismissal began shortly after Texas lost, 24-21, in overtime at lowly Kansas. Reports stated university officials – with massive encouragement from boosters – decided to fire Strong, but men’s athletic director Mike Perrin held firm that Strong would be evaluated following the season.
Strong also acknowledged earlier in the week that he hadn’t been informed of his firing, and his players rallied around him and showed their support following his weekly media conference.
The evaluation period didn’t last very long, though, and writing was on the wall following Texas’ latest humbling defeat, a 31-9 loss to TCU that knocked the Longhorns from bowl contention.
Strong finished with a 16-21 record (12-15 in Big 12 play) in three seasons after taking the job following four years at Louisville. Texas began this season with a thrilling overtime win over then-No. 10 Notre Dame and reached as high as No. 11 in the AP Top 25. But the Longhorns dipped to 2-3 and fell out of contention in the Big 12.
A rejuvenated offense thrived thanks to the schemes of new OC Sterlin Gilbert, the arm of true freshman quarterback Shane Buechele and legs of record-breaking running back D’Onta Foreman; however the defense, Strong’s area of expertise, was a sieve all season long. Strong took over play-calling duties from Vance Bedford early in the season following several games of allowing over 40 points, but it was no matter. The Longhorns gave up 448.3 yards per game (No. 99 nationally) and 31.5 points per game (tied for No. 91).
That simply wasn’t good enough for a rabid fan base and plethora of impatient boosters expecting Texas to be a yearly contender for the national title. The Longhorns have not won more than nine games since the 2009 season, when they lost to Alabama in the BCS national championship game. And while it’s widely acknowledged that this year’s team is young, the seeds of discontent had long been sown. Failure to make a bowl this year, embarrassing losses during the tenure – like the aforementioned Kansas game and last year’s shutout against Iowa State – and owning the lowest win percentage for a head coach in program history had effectively sealed Strong’s fate.
Texas now turns its sights toward the east to Houston. School officials will likely do everything in their power to sign Tom Herman, who has long been considered a frontrunner for the position.