By Ryan Decker
Remember how after Texas’ (3-4) great win against Notre Dame at the beginning of the season most people, including myself, said the win signified that head coach Charlie Strong was there to stay and that Texas was back?
Well, we were wrong. I was wrong. I can admit that.
It’s for that reason that Texas fans should show up this weekend, because it may be one of the last times they see Strong in burnt orange. That should also be the expectation, though.
To review, Texas started this season off on the right foot. The Longhorns won each of their first two contests and were at one point the 11th-ranked team in the nation.
Then things took a turn.
Strong’s team has since lost four of its last five, including last weekend in a 24-21 defeat in Manhattan against Kansas St., the fifth consecutive time Texas has lost at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium.
The loss also marked the 12th loss in 17 games away from Austin under Strong’s tenure.
At this point it’s not a matter of if, but when, Strong’s run as head coach of the Longhorns is ended.
Longhorn fans should expect Strong not being a part of the team in 2017.
Texas athletic director Mike Perrin is said to have been at each of Strong’s weekly press conferences over the past three weeks, and is also said to have had a closed-door meeting with Strong on Monday.
Strong hasn’t been able to win on the road. His home record isn’t that great either, and with each of the next two home games against ranked opponents, it doesn’t look like it will get any better.
Oh, and Texas has had a winning record only five weeks in three years under Strong.
Texas football fans expect the world of their football team. Sometimes the expectations are too high, though.
However, the expectations of Strong in his third season haven’t been met, and going into the season those expectations were fairly tempered and rather realistic.
So what should realistic expectations be going forward for Longhorn fans?
- Don’t expect Strong to finish the season as the head coach. Multiple 3+ game losing streaks (which is very likely) would be the last straw.
- Don’t expect a bowl game appearance. The only assured win remaining is Kansas. Although ESPN FPI gives the Longhorns better than a 50/50 chance to win three of the remaining five games, they will likely be the underdog in all but one game left.
- Expect to see a different team after Strong is removed – for better or for worse. Some in-season firings can be a rallying point for a team, others can be the sure-fire sign the season is over and players’ minds can wander for the duration. Surely, though, it will be a different team.
- Expect a splash after the season. Texas will (once again) go with the “go big or go home approach” when hiring the next head coach. That splash is rumored to be Houston coach Tom Herman, who I wrote last week is certainly on his way out.