My pleasant thoughts this morning — and really, when are my thoughts NOT pleasant? — but moving along rapidly, before you lose breakfast, I’ve got nothing except good things to say about one of our state’s most high profile newcomers.
Charlie Strong. Loving your work, man. Loving a man who says it, then does it.
If you are going to play football for Charlie at the University of Texas, he told you straight up on Day One of his Austin arrival, you will do right, you will live right, you will whiz in a random cup, you will go to class, you will make your grades, you will be a dedicated teammate, and may God himself have mercy on your young soul if you ever lay an angry hand on a woman.
Without an official confirmation yet from Strong, but based on published reports, as many as six holdover UT players, with the number possibly going to nine, or higher, have been kicked off the team at Texas. And that’s so far.
So what is there not to like about the rules, the regulations and, most of all, the walking of the talking from one Charlie Strong, new head coach of the Longhorns?
I say nothing. Absolutely nothing not to like, but there’s also an echo coming in this morning. I’m hearing the voice of the late Gordon Wood, who during his days at Brownwood became the most revered high school football coach the state of Texas has ever known.
Reporter: “Coach, what are your team rules?”
Gordon: “I don’t have any rules.”
Reporter (shocked): “You don’t?”
Gordon: “If you’ve got rules, you may have to enforce one.”
When that exchange happened many years ago, Wood gave a big smile. I think he was jacking with me. But it made sense.
What if your best player breaks a hard and fast rule the night before the big game? But that was also the ’60s and ’70s. For the right coach, players of that era ran through walls. Nowadays, players may have a coach shoved up against that same wall.
Charlie is not a coach who will be shoved. Gordon Wood would like that. I like that. But it does come with ramifications attached, particularly in this day and age. A sizable number of UT players broke Charlie’s hard and fast rules.
Based on the pulpit pounding I read from my esteemed colleague, the Rev. Mac Engel, the players doing that kind of coach shoving are the “knucklehead element” who must be eliminated from a local college football program.
Are you listening, Gary Patterson? Stop recruiting “knuckleheads.” Rev. Engel said so.
GP has certainly had his TCU problems with that element over the last few years, and lately it involves the ongoing headaches associated with once-stud defensive end Devonte Fields.
I agree with Rev. Engel. Get rid of Fields. This is twice he’s been an embarrassment, although this current case is much more serious than a year ago.
But in total disagreement with Rev. Engel, there’s also not a college football program in the land that can afford to eliminate all the knuckleheads in recruitment.
More than not, the knucklehead element tends to clean up their act in college and become productive players for you by doing right and living right.
Unfortunately, the ones who don’t clean up their act will make the ugly headlines, from Austin to Norman to all points east and west. Those headlines make your school and your program look cheap.
But just read the small-type headline every day in this newspaper. Football programs across the country are having serious knucklehead problems.
But then again, there was a noted knucklehead playing quarterback in College Station the last two years. Is any Aggie anywhere sorry?
Is there a school in the United States of America that doesn’t wish it had had that Johnny Knucklehead? Or the knucklehead who plays in Tallahassee right now?
Recruiting is the same thing as buying stock or betting horses. You make your educated wager and then hope it turns out for the best.
If you don’t make the knucklehead wager in recruiting, and if you don’t cash on enough of those knucklehead gambles, then you are going to win about five games. Then you get fired.
What Charlie Strong is attempting to find out in Austin is which of Mack Brown’s knuckleheads want to play by Charlie Strong rules. Obviously, some don’t.
Those some are gone, and others may follow. Charlie’s immediate challenge is to go find his own knuckleheads in recruiting, and then win the long-term gamble on them.
For 2014, Charlie’s looming issue is he didn’t inherit a ton of top talent. He is taking over a program that didn’t have one — not one — player drafted in the NFL in May. Seven rounds, not one Longhorn taken. That was a staggering message to a new coach.
Some of those holdover players who reportedly are now gone in Austin were going to see a lot of snaps. At least three of them were at that level. Others provided depth.
Charlie also doesn’t have a proven quarterback, unless David Ash can stay healthy. That’s real iffy, of course.
Uh-oh. A QB shortage and a depth shortage loom for Strong in the fall. The Whiny Orange Nation is not a patient bunch, but the Whinys in my circle of friends are praising the Strong-arm of Charlie at the moment, liking it that he’s kicking butt and cleaning house. I promised each one of those Whinys I’d get back to them on Strong in, like, November.
But regardless of how the 2014 season turns out in Austin, Charlie Strong was a great hire. When Mack Brown was fired, the anti-Mack was needed, provided the ’Bama cat couldn’t be lured by a trillion-dollar offer.
Charlie is the anti-Mack. Charlie is a proven coach. If he can survive long enough in Austin, it’s his recruits who will carry him, not Mack’s knuckleheads.
But imagine this: a coach who delivers his message then backs up that message. Live right, do right. If not, I-35 runs both ways out of town.
Leave a message for Randy Galloway at 817-390-7697.