UT’s newest head coach introduced himself to Longhorn fans and promised hard-nosed football.
Charlie Strong had his chance to make his first impression Monday, and there was no shortage of journalists, officials, alumni, and boosters to impress.
The 29th head coach of the Texas Longhorns was introduced to the Longhorn nation in a crowded press conference at Bellmont Hall, where he was quick to tip his cap to the history and tradition of the program while hinting at a hard-hitting future for the team. He said his focus would be on nurturing and graduating students—as well as winning games.
“I can’t wait to get started,” Strong said. “We will work like it’s fourth and one—or fourth and inches, more than that—and make sure that our Texas Exes are so happy about the product that we put on the field.”
The new coach paid respect to his predecessors, including the late Darrell K Royal, whose wife, Edith, was in attendance, as well as Mack Brown. Strong said he extended an open invitation to Brown to visit any time, and that Brown counseled him to be himself and coach his own way.
He also spoke frankly on the topic of recruiting, a responsibility that defined Brown’s early tenure as head coach. In recent years, however, Brown has been criticized for not landing Texas-bred recruits like Baylor’s Robert Griffin III and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel.
Strong said he would “close the borders” of Texas and work closely with Texas high school coaches to keep talented players in-state and playing for UT.
“We will recruit with fire and we will recruit with passion,” Strong said.
The athletic department’s motto, “Winning with Integrity,” was used in many variations Monday, suggesting Strong hoped to continue the University’s emphasis on responsible recruiting and avoiding NCAA rules violations. Officials pointed to Strong’s “development of the total student-athlete both on and off the field” as a deciding factor in the hire. The coach said running a “clean program” will be his focus, and noted that he wants his players to graduate.
“At end of the day, it’s all about winning, it’s about developing young people, and it’s about doing it the right way,” he said.
Rumors began circulating Saturday that the 53-year-old Strong, who previously coached the Louisville Cardinals to back-to-back bowl wins and two conference championships, would take over for Brown, who announced his retirement in December. On Sunday, newly minted athletic director Steve Patterson, BBA ’80, JD ’84, announced that Strong would come to Texas. The decision was made with the help of a selection committee that included numerous prominent Texas Exes.
Shaking off whispers that he wasn’t the University’s first choice to take the reins of the most lucrative college football program in the country, Strong said it didn’t matter.
“Whatever choice I was, I’m the head football coach,” he said.
Asked about the importance of Strong being the University’s first African-American head coach in a men’s sport, UT president Bill Powers spoke about the value of diversity. UT, which considers race as a criterion in some admissions, is currently fighting a court battle to continue that practice.
“We’re educating our students to be living in a diverse world. It’s important that we reflect the diversity of our state and our country,” Powers said.
After the press conference, Powers voiced his enthusiastic support for Strong.
“We’ve got the right football coach,” Powers said. “All the things we were looking for are embodied in Charlie Strong.”
In a statement, Brown had kind words for his successor: “I’ve known Charlie Strong for a long time and Texas not only hired a tremendous football coach but also a great man. Charlie’s a man of integrity and character. I wish him the best. He’s had success everywhere he’s been and he will do a great job at Texas.”
Click here for a full transcript of the press conference.
Photos courtesy Texas Athletics.
Cary Michael Cox:
Over the next several years I think that you will see many Longhorn's drafted un...
Cary Michael Cox:
Never has one man in modern history done such an amazing job vilifying himself t...
Cary Michael Cox:
Can't wait to see this staff and team in action!
Cary Michael Cox...
Great article, if your looking to get more people involved with supporting RGV s...
Even in the 1950s and 1960s students came to UT from the Valley. One of them was...