No Official Decision on Strong’s Future Yet

strong

Third-year Longhorn football coach Charlie Strong addressed the media on Monday morning, as he does every week following a game. But this week was different in both tone and attendance. Conflicting rumors swirled about Strong’s fate Sunday night on the heels of a 24-21 overtime loss to Kansas on Saturday evening. Kansas had not won a Big 12 game since Nov. 8, 2014 and hadn’t beaten Texas since 1938.

Athletics Director Mike Perrin sent a statement on Sunday evening after multiple outlets reported that the decision had been made to fire Strong. It read: “There are a number of rumors out there about the status of Coach Strong. I’ve said it all along, we will evaluate the body of work after the regular season. We have a game to get ready for against TCU on Friday, and I hope our fans will come out and support our team. We’ll discuss where things stand after that.”

A throng of current players, including quarterback Shane Buechele, punter Michael Dickson, and the nation’s leading rusher D’Onta Foreman showed up to support Strong.

“I want to come back,” Strong responded when asked about his future at UT. “I look at the job the staff has done and how far we’ve come. The wins and losses don’t stack up, but we’re a young team.” Strong mentioned that he had spoken with Perrin after the Kansas game and that he speaks with UT-Austin president Greg Fenves following every game.

He echoed Perrin’s statement that his future would be evaluated following the TCU game. Despite wins over No. 10 Notre Dame and No. 8 Baylor, the Longhorns are 5-6 this season, and Strong’s record at Texas is 16-20 over three seasons, the lowest winning percentage in school history.

Strong focused on the foundation he has laid in his short tenure at Texas, including a top-10 2016 recruiting class, and the desire to get the seniors to a bowl game. He also pointed to the character of his players, mentioning that all of his players are on track to graduate.

“When you get in this profession, it’s about developing young men,” Strong said. “They have to be taught how to handle themselves, bounce back from adversity, and overcome obstacles.”

Just before the press conference began, the Austin American-Statesman reported that several players were considering boycotting the TCU game if Strong were fired. Their coach quickly stamped that out.

“Players won’t boycott this game,” Strong said. “This game is about the seniors. It won’t happen.”

In perhaps the most tender moment of the most candid and heartfelt press conference Strong has given since arriving at Texas in January 2014, Strong addressed his players, standing silently in the corner.

“I will always take the hit for you guys,” he said.

After the final question, his players broke out into spontaneous applause.

 

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