On Tour with Charlie: Behind the Scenes of ‘Comin’ on Strong’


On Tour with Charlie: Behind the Scenes of 'Comin' on Strong'

Fun fact: You know that big, hulking, burnt-orange bus that’s making the rounds for the 2014 Texas Comin’ on Strong Tour? Charlie Strong isn’t actually on it.

No, UT’s new head coach is actually tackling his 12-city, 30-day Texas welcome wagon by air, alongside other Longhorn VIPs—like ADs Steve Patterson and Chris Plonsky—who are joining him on stops along the way. So when you’re waving to the opaque windows of the Comin’ on Strong bus as it rolls through your town, you’re more than likely getting an enthusiastic response from the Texas Cheer and Pom Squad, members of the athletics staff, and maybe a lucky reporter or two along for the ride.

Following successful pep-rally-like appearances in Fort Worth, Dallas, Houston, and Tyler, Strong and his bus (separately) rolled into San Antonio’s Sunset Station this week for their sixth stop, the tour’s halfway mark. More than 800 eager Longhorn fans purchased tickets to the event, which was designed to introduce Coach Strong to the Longhorn nation and vice versa. Smokey the Cannon, a giant inflatable Hook ’Em, the normal-sized mascot Hook ’Em, and the Longhorn Alumni Band braved the heat to offer UT-themed photo ops. With the 97-degree temperature, it was easy to forget it isn’t quite tailgating season yet.

Behind the scenes, Coach Strong spent some time rubbing shoulders with a private-event crowd that included San Antonio-area supporters of UT Athletics, prominent Texas Exes, and UT letter-winners and greats. On the guest list: legendary UT women’s basketball coach Jody Conradt, Texas Ex and former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Anthony Garza, and current women’s soccer coach Angela Kelly, among others. Strong graciously flashed his pearly whites and tossed up his newly learned hook ’em for photos before heading outside to sign autographs for a never-ending line of Longhorn fans and families.

Here’s a look at what else the Comin’ on Strong tour had in store for fans in San Antonio this week.


 The Venue

Just steps away from the Alamodome, where the Longhorns fell to Oregon in December’s Alamo Bowl under Mack Brown, Charlie Strong took to his largest stage yet at historic Sunset Station—a mostly outdoor special event space used for everything from weddings to tailgates. Tour attendees munched on chips, dip, and fruit and enjoyed a cash bar while waiting for the new coach to take the stage.

Photo Ops2

The Photo Ops

There were plenty of places for Longhorns to pose with their horns up at the event. The ladies of Texas Cheer and Pom joined fans in front of a Charlie Strong-themed backdrop, and members of the Texas Cowboys set up Smokey in the middle of Sunset Station. Strong himself didn’t offer up photos with the main-event crowd—and with 800+ attendees, I don’t blame him—but many managed to squeeze in a selfie with him while passing by the autograph table.


 The Face Time

A long, winding line of burnt orange led up to an equally orange autograph table, where Coach Strong sat signing 2014 football promo posters and handing them to fans. Because of the event’s short two-hour timeframe, Strong struggled to  interact with every fan in line, but that didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits. Many posted pictures of the new coach and their signed souvenirs on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using the tour’s official hashtag, #TXstrongtour14.


The Opening Act

A panel that included Jody Conradt, Angela Kelly, and college baseball’s winningest coach, Augie Garrido, warmed up the stage for Strong, taking questions from the crowd with the help of moderator and Longhorn Network personality Ahmad Brooks, BS ’05. In addition to sharing advice for UT’s newest head coach, they all expressed votes of confidence in Strong’s ability to lead and their excitement about the upcoming football season.


The Main Event

On the tour’s first stop in Fort Worth, Strong caught some flak from fans when he proclaimed, “We will not be in the championship game this year.” Uh, come again? So naturally, the San Antonio crowd was eager to hear what he had to say when he took the mic at Monday’s event. Strong kept it positive, explaining the phases of prepping for a season (we’re finishing up phase 2: spring practices) and emphasizing the importance of academics (he’s established a “breakfast club” for students who couldn’t seem to find their classrooms last semester). He also encouraged Longhorn fans to not get ahead of themselves when it comes to the upcoming season. “It’s going to be fun,” he said to the crowd, “but it’s only April. We’ve still got a ways to go.”

The Comin’ on Strong Tour continues this week with a stop in the Rio Grande Valley. Learn more here.


Tags: , , , ,


No comments

Be the first one to leave a comment.

Post a Comment