Football Off to a Strong Start as Coach Sets Expectations

Football Off to a Strong Start as Coach Sets Expectations

Charlie Strong doesn’t just want the best players. He wants the best student-athletes on his roster. Responsible leadership was the theme of the new football coach’s first media availability Wednesday, a meeting that came shortly after UT Athletics announced the full complement of coaches for the upcoming football season, a list that includes more than one Texas Ex.

Describing his coaching staff as a team of role models and teachers, Strong answered questions about who would call plays on offense (offensive line coach Joe Wickline), and what style of football they would implement (a “hard-nosed” spread offense with solid running ability). Wickline, while remaining a position coach, will call plays for the first time since his 1984-87 stint at Delta State, according to the Dallas Morning News.

Shawn Watson, who served under Strong at Louisville, will coach quarterbacks, and receivers coach Les Koenning, BS ’81, MA ’83, joins fellow Texas Ex and defensive coordinator Vance Bedford, BA ’84. Watson, Koenning, and Wickline are expected to work together, but Wickline will carry the load when it comes to calling plays, Strong said.

Strong and his staff aren’t just implementing a renewed style of play. They’re laying out a new set of responsibilities for players. A bevy of new guidelines were explained in a team meeting, as well as in one-on-one meetings Strong held with each member of the team. Among the expectations: players should attend every class, sit in the front two rows, and stay off their phones during class.

Saying he’s working to get to know and build trust with his team, Strong emphasized the importance of respect, both on the field and in the classroom. “Give the professor the same respect you give me,” Strong told the team. The new rules, which Strong said are not yet hard-and-fast policies, seem aimed at one main goal: helping players graduate.

“When you get that degree,” Strong told reporters, “it’s going to say ‘The University of Texas’, not ‘the university of Charlie Strong.'”

The newly installed coach, thought by some to be camera-shy, seemed to be quickly developing his own style—plainspoken, earnest, and focused on success.

“At the end of the day,” he said of his new staff, “our job is to help young men.”

Spring practice is expected to begin in March. After the conference, Strong was joined by some members of his new staff on a trip to Dallas, where they began a new year of recruiting.

Watch the full press conference below. Can’t see the video? Click here.

Photo courtesy UT Athletics.


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