Texas dropped the Red River Showdown to Oklahoma on Saturday in Dallas. And it may have been Charlie Strong’s last game against the Sooners as the Longhorns’ head coach.
Fair or not, time may be running out on the Charlie Strong era at Texas.
The Longhorns fell to Oklahoma, 45-40, in the Red River Showdown on Saturday in Dallas, marking the team’s third straight following a 2-0 start.
After taking over defensive play-calling duties from coordinator Vance Bedford earlier in the week, Strong received yet another porous effort from the unit. OU racked up 672 yards, which is not a good look for a squad led by a defensive-minded head coach. After giving up 444 total yards to Notre Dame, things have only become worse for the ‘Horns. Texas allowed 507 yards to California, 555 versus Oklahoma State and the nearly 700 on Saturday against OU. That’s a trend that eventually prompts change. Bedford was relieved of his play-calling duties, but is that enough?
While there is a lot of youth on the defensive side of the ball, the fact remains that Strong has to find a way for his defense to stop opposing offenses more consistently.
And find any way to stop the bleeding that’s going on in his W-L record.
This is the third consecutive year that Strong’s ‘Horns have been plagued with slow starts. Through five games in his debut season, Texas was 2-3. A 1-4 start occurred last year, and now the ‘Horns are 2-3 again this season. Last year, a win over the Sooners essentially helped take him off of the hot seat. A loss this year may have permanently kept him on one.
Even though he is only in his third season, Strong’s record at Texas sits at 13-17. The bottom line is that being four games under .500 over that span won’t make anyone associated with the school happy. This is a proud program with its own television network. Winning is everything.
Two days after school president Gregory L. Fenves tweeted his support for Strong, athletic director Mike Perrin told a small group of reporters on Friday that he supports his head coach as well, but he labeled the defense “troublesome” and was bothered by “troubles in the kicking game.” Ultimately, Perrin wants to watch a better football product on Saturdays.
“I want to see an improved program,” Perrin said.
And he will determine just how improved the Longhorns are from the product that Strong took over.
There has never been a coach in any major sport at Texas to be dismissed in midseason in the university’s 133-year history, so Strong likely will have a chance to finish out this campaign. During his tenure, he has demoted, fired or replaced eight assistant coaches. So he has certainly done a lot to find the right tonic for what has been ailing his team. But, at some point, the head coach has to take the fall.
Tom Herman still remains the biggest prize on the coaching market. If Perrin believes that Herman or another coach would be a better fit than Strong for the longterm health of the program, a move will be made.
A performance like the one on Saturday may have hastened that process.