There’s no more milestones for Charlie Strong to check in order to save his job as the Texas football head coach. After losing to the worst team in the Big 12, his time as the head of the Longhorns football program is coming to an end. It’s only a matter of time, and he knows it too.
There’s no redemption after losing to Kansas, a team that hasn’t won a conference game in over two years, until they played Texas. The Longhorns lost in overtime, 24-21. It’s the second consecutive week of giving up 24 points and losing in a close game. Five of Texas’ six losses this season have been by 7 points or less. This isn’t the bad team from the first two Strong seasons, blown out mercilessly by their conference rivals and outside of it. Besides their 18 point loss to Oklahoma State, Texas have been within one possession of a win, or actually won the game.
The most painful part of the Strong post game presser.
“Do you know what this means for your future?” http://pic.twitter.com/MRNuTko8au
— Casey Keirnan (@CaseyKeirnan) November 20, 2016
But those ‘moral victories’ won’t be enough for Strong to hold on to his job. Not with a 16-20 overall record since taking over for Mack Brown, going with a 12-14 conference record, and a good shot at a second consecutive season without a bowl game. Strong has been asked a number of times over the last two seasons about his future. He’s always looked like someone who knows things will be better, and he just needs more time. After the loss to Kansas he was asked that question again. He looked deflated, beaten. Someone who knows that there’s nothing saving him from getting fired this time. Anyone who defended Strong and his process of bringing Texas back to the front of college football has run out of credit or excuses.
Who comes next? Tom Herman is the name everyone keeps mentioning, as he’s guiding Houston to another strong season, which included wins over Oklahoma and Louisville. And mentioning the Cardinals takes you back to Strong’s time with the red side of Kentucky, and wondering if all of his success there, including winning the Sugar Bowl against Florida, was actually Teddy Bridgewater’s doing, and not some brilliant coaching and recruiting.
I guess we’ll know when Strong gets another job, and he will. Whether he’ll be fired before Texas play against TCU (they can still get to a bowl game with a win against the bad-looking Horned Frogs) or later, it doesn’t matter. Boosters who have been pushing for Strong to be fired since the day he was hired will get their wish. Whether or not someone else would have done a better job of getting Texas out of its poor form is impossible to say. At a different program, Strong possibly would have gotten a little more time to turn things around. But he got in his recruits. He got in his staff. And things didn’t improve. Wins over ranked Notre Dame and Baylor seem meaningless now. Without beating Oklahoma last season he wouldn’t have made it to 2016 still holding the job. Will Texas be sorry for letting him go? Only if the next coach will fail at turning this program around as well, which will leave more questions than answers as to how such a strong program has suddenly turned into a place no one can succeed at.