Other Voices

Strong needs time to improve Longhorns

Texas head coach Charlie Strong, center, talks to an official during a Sept. 26 game against Oklahoma State.
Texas head coach Charlie Strong, center, talks to an official during a Sept. 26 game against Oklahoma State. The Associated Press

It is easy to be impatient and tempting to set unreasonable expectations — whether in politics, human relationships or sports.

This is one of reasons why when Charlie Strong was hired to coach the University of Texas at Austin Longhorns football team, many — including me — urged UT fans to be patient in waiting for things to turn around.

To be sure, recent performances by the team have been nothing less than abysmal, challenging attempts by me and other Longhorn faithful to remain patient.

The Longhorns lost to the TCU Horned Frogs on Saturday, 50-7.

Sadly, some have gone too far, suggesting that Strong should be replaced after less than two seasons. While there is no doubt that he has much work ahead of him to refocus and better prepare his team, it might be wise for us to step back and put the current situation in perspective.

Mack Royal, son of Longhorn legend Darrell K. Royal, recently wrote in a social media post: “When you run an honest program, it takes time to attract the good kids with great talent. Strong has a strategy and it will take some time for it to work. I understand this; I’ve seen it up close and personal. TCU happens to be awesome at times. DKR lost the Southwest Conference championship to TCU his first year of coaching UT.”

Royal further noted, “When parents understand that they are sending their children to be coached by a decent man running an honest program, it will slowly make a difference in recruiting. Give the man a chance, please. These kids are sent to school to get a degree, build character, and play football or some other sport. It’s a complicated picture and replacing the head coach is not the answer after one and a half seasons. It took DKR a while to get rolling … don’t forget that.”

I couldn’t agree more! Perhaps it would behoove us to recall history.

UT fans might remember that Nick Saban, the coach many wanted UT to hire instead of Strong, took three years to turn Alabama around and four years to do so at LSU.

Moreover, while Kevin Sumlin had Texas A&M performing exceptionally well almost immediately, it took him four years to turn things around at the University of Houston.

Not to be forgotten is the fact that Strong may not have inherited a team as good as either of the teams Sumlin inherited.

Our expectations should be more reasonable. As former Austin American-Statesman editor Richard A. Oppel reminds me, “A CEO usually gets three years to turn around a company. Sounds about right for Charlie.”

At the end of the day, patience in all areas of life, including sports, is a virtue we should practice. And setting appropriate and reasonable expectations is a must.

Running a clean, honest college football program that graduates players, for example, is a program that people who claim to love college athletics should be proud of and support.

I applaud everything that Charlie Strong stands for and what he demands of his players.

Sure, it’s not a great beginning from the standpoint of wins and losses, but it’s a promising start for turning the Longhorns into a team for which we can all be proud.

So, let’s give Strong a chance to do what he was hired to do — which involves more than but certainly requires winning games.

Rick Cherwitz is the Ernest S. Sharpe Centennial Professor in UT’s Moody College of Communication.