The Big Mac Blog

Three realities working against Charlie Strong in Austin

Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong is already off to an awful start in his second season in Austin.
Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong is already off to an awful start in his second season in Austin. AP

By the middle of August we all should have known Texas Longhorn football was in trouble just by following Charlie Strong’s Twitter account, @Strong_TexasFB. His last post remains from July 28 with the Tweet, “Got some very exciting news for the future of the program! #LetsRide”

Not a word since. By that point, camp had started and Strong knew what we all saw on Saturday night in South Bend, Ind. - his team still stinks. A couple of days have passed since Year Two of the Strong Era started at Texas and Bevo and his obnoxiously wealthy friends quickly realized that their worst fears are not close to what they could have imagined.

The numbers compiled by Jimmy Burch from UT’s season-opening 38-8 loss at Notre Dame on Saturday night are depressing.

The University of Texas is the flagship school in the great state a Texas, and Strong’s team remains an expensive joke. That’s on Strong, and it’s on the guy that should never have been given the keys to UT sports - AD Steve Patterson, who hired Strong.

When Strong went with Tyrone Swoopes as his quarterback, even as a combo with redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard, he was cooked. Swoopes simply can’t play. The end. Swoopes should have been nudged to transfer at the end of last season, but the fact he is back is telling for the program, and a coach.

Theoretically, Strong should not be sweating anything as far as his status is concerned, but he has three major problems working against him:

1.) It’s 2015. Expectations are stupid high, and we no longer have the patience to wait for microwave popcorn let alone to rebuild a college football team.

Every new coach at a major program has a decreasing amount of time to turn around their respective job. Texas is viewed as one of the top five programs in the nation, because it is, meaning the coach should be able to attract anybody he wants and get it done yesterday. Even if the clock is accelerated, Strong’s team should look far better than it has shown but for a few games in his tenure.

Strong is 6-8 at UT. The Big 12 is down, but given how UT’s putrid offense looks, even in a mediocre Big 12 Bevo looks no better than an invite to the Who Gives a Crap Bowl.

If the Horns are another .500 team this season, that will mark the seventh consecutive year the Longhorns have not won at least 10 games.

2.) People don’t like the guy that hired him.

Compounding the matter is that the guy that handed Strong the job is an athletic director who operates his department like the front office of an NBA team. With more than 20 years in the front office of professional sports teams, Steve Patterson should never have been hired by Texas. College ain’t the pros.

Patterson is a capitalist to the bone; he would monetize a trip to the toilet if he thought he could get away with it. College athletics is often called the pros, but it does not function that way. If it did, it would die and he would have been fired.

People in Austin were accustomed to long time AD DeLoss Dodds, who clearly grasped the atmosphere of college athletics.

That Patterson has alienated old alums and boosters, as outlined by Chip Brown of OrangeBloods over the summer, does not make him unique. A lot of new ADs implement new programs, methods and ideas that change things, and people inherently hate change.

All of the complaining and anger at Patterson would be tolerable if football was winning. Football makes an athletic department happy. Having worked in an athletic department for five years, when football wins, everybody is in a better mood.

If football is not going to win 10 games for a while, Patterson and Strong needs friends. Mack Brown was the best “friends” coach ever created, and his AD was no slouch. Friends can buy time in college athletic departments.

Patterson isn’t making any friends, and if football loses there is no bigger enemy in Austin.

3.) Hate to say this, but race.

Charlie Strong is the first black head football coach at the University of Texas, and one of the highest paid public employees in a state that sadly has some horrible details in terms of race relations. Strong getting the job is a big deal, and another sign that it’s about production more than appearance.

You have to at least ask yourself - will the power$ that be in Austin and with the program tolerate an average record from a coach they may subconsciously judge because of the color of his skin? It wouldn’t be the first time.

The Horns host Rice on Saturday night, which assures Bevo will be 1-1 by this time next week.

Maybe then Strong will update his Twitter account with the news that is “exciting news for the future of the program!”

The current news is awful.

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