Louisville football, Charlie Strong, Art Briles, Texas football, coaching search
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Charlie Strong ball, Texas football not a good match

January 2, 2014

No one really understands the Texas thought process when it comes to football, not even in Texas, because there are so many divergent opinions from major donors who influence the Longhorn program and the UT coaching search.

The names of numerous successful coaches,including Nick Saban of Alabama, have been mentioned. David Shaw of Stanford, Kevin Sumlin of Texas A&M, James Franklin of Vanderbilt, Mike Gundy of Oklahoma State, Les Miles of LSU, Jimbo Fisher of Florida State, even Bobby Petrino at Western Kentucky.

But according to the Dallas Morning News, the coaching search appears to be honing in on two candidates — Art Briles of Baylor University and Charlie Strong of the University of Louisville.

The only thing Briles and Strong have in common besides being successful coaches is they both lost to the University of Central Florida this season, Baylor losing 52-42, UofL 38-35. Those losses marred otherwise exceptional seasons for both coaches. Baylor finished with an 11-2 mark, UofL with a 12-1 record.

Briles coaches an exciting brand of football, his team scoring 70 points or more in three games, more than 60 twice and 50 in one game. His team averaged 50 points per game and a 36-point margin of victory in the 11 wins. No slouch on defense either, allowing 19 points per game. Take away the UCF loss and the Bears were holding opponents to 16 per game.

Strong, on the other hand, is a defensive-minded coach, stressing ball control and milking the clock, resulting in grind-them-out, slow motion games even against sub-par opponents. The 36-9 win over Miami an exception, of course. His team averaged 35 points per game and a 22-point margin of victory in 12 wins. Opponents averaged only 13 points per game.

Briles is a Texas native, led his team to the state championship game as an all-starter, played his college football at the University of Houston, coached at three Texas high schools, and had successful coaching stints at Texas Tech and Houston. He knows the state and knows what he would be getting into at Texas.

Strong, meanwhile, is from Arkansas, played his college football at Central Arkansas, and served apprenticeships at South Carolina and Notre Dame between 10 seasons at the Florida. He was a graduate assistant for a year at Texas A&M. His defensive coordinator, Vance Bedford, did play at Texas.

None of this leads us to conclude that Charlie Strong is prepared for the Texas job or that Texas is genuinely interested in handing over the coaching reins to him. Texas fans would not be satisfied very long with the grind-it-out approach. If Strong were the choice, we believe the offer would have already been tendered.

The best Louisville fans can hope for is that Texas, which seems to drag its feet on every issue, finally gets around to making a decision soon. But that might not be the end of the drama.

The fact that Strong has apparently shown some interest in the Texas opening could mean that he would be receptive to offers from other schools as the revolving doors continue to circle over the next week or so.

Briles is open about it, wants to talk with Texas, admits it’s a business. Strong is quiet, too quiet, doing the normal football coach thing. We’ll go with Briles at Texas, hoping for the best with the current UofL football coaching situation.

Comments (17)

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  1. Juan Carlos says:

    Texas fans would not be satisfied very long with the grind-it-out approach?!!!

    Uhm… our stadium is named after a man who ran the WISHBONE!

  2. Matt says:

    I’m a Texas fan, and I can tell you unequivocally that Texas fans would love Strong and his brand of football. Moreover, every other UT fan I spoken with has Strong and Franklin at the top of their wish list.

    Don’t confuse the noise for what’s happening on the inside with the Texas coaching search. The national media may be turning it into a circus, but Texas has said almost nothing…and by that I mean the school and not the loudmouth boosters. Yes, boosters matter, but they don’t do the hiring. Those who find it funny that Texas put together an 8 member committee to help with the coaching hire are entirely missing the point. Texas didn’t put together the committee because they believe a federal judge and ex-Ambassador to Switzerland know about hiring coaches. They put it together so that its comprised of people with enough gravitas to buffer the loudmouth boosters. Red McCombs and Tom Hicks may be able to barge into the AD’s office whenever they like…but they can’t do the same with anyone on that committee. See where this is going?

    The national media is driving this madhouse, not Texas. Texas is doing what any school has to under the most intense scrutiny ever seen for a college coaching search. I think it’s actually as shocking to the UT Athletic Department as it is to me. I’m utterly baffled by the national fascination over this coaching hire. I get it’s important on some level because it will likely make waves for other programs, but this is totally unprecedented and a little weird, honestly.

    Anyway, respectfully…you’re wrong. It’s actually Briles’ brand of football we don’t want. We would love what Strong brings to town.

    • Matt says:

      And as a side note, I agree the Texas boosters are wildly entertaining, but do a little digging. Texas has one of the largest endowments of any in the nation (public or private) because it was deeded millions of acres of “worthless” West Texas grasslands in 1876 by the State Legislature.

      I’m sure you can imagine why the state came and asked for it back about 40-50 years later, to no avail…

    • Michael says:

      Texas fan here. 100% agree.

    • LonghornAlum says:

      Good post. Trust me, the fans that are alums pine for the days of the Class of Beef and 200 yds on the ground each week. I don’t think anyone wants ‘grind it out’ – but we’ll take a dominant run game over the flash of Baylor and Tech that simply don’t get it done on the national level. We want the next Ricky, not the next VY or RGIII (though we’ll take him).

  3. Matt, thanks for the comments. Not trying to be a Texas fan here, strictly views from a Louisville perspective, as site name indicates. We were fairly certain that Texas has one of the largest endowments but the grasslands note adds new dimensions beyond our imagination. Good luck in your search. Just stay away from Charlie Strong. I really believe it would be a mistake for both parties.

  4. Steveko says:

    No one has mentioned Jim Mora- he’ll be the next Texas coach. How come “Matt” doesn’t know this?

  5. Steve says:

    If Charlie Strong leaves as expected – I wonder would the replacement candidates would be.

    Top of my list would be former UofL QB Jay Gruden.

    Mcelwain (Spelling?)
    Kirby Smart
    Chad Morris
    Shawn Watson
    Vance Bedford

  6. Charles B says:

    Texas wants a winner. That’s the bottom line.

    Texas fans will complain if we have a high offense and a lousy D, or vice versa. Texas fans lead the list of fans with unrealistic expectations. If we are favored by 20, it won’t matter if we win 10-7 or 48-45, Texas fans will complain.

    They were after Saban, he is certainly a D first guy. He sure ain’t running the spread. It’ doesn’t matter to Texas fans. Just win.

    If Strong wins, he’ll be a genius and a great hire, great coach. If he loses, a dummy and a bad hire and a lousy coach.

  7. Cardinal Fan says:

    Hopefully we won’t see the blogs yelling “Why are we hiring a coach who hasn’t done anything just because he’s black” which shocked me quite a bit.

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