Bad losses to BYU, Kansas State, and TCU in 2014 all had Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong frustrated in post-game press conferences, but nothing compared to the barely-contained anger that visibly simmered in the face and words of Strong after Monday night's humiliating blowout in the Texas Bowl at the hands of the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The first-year head coach was clearly tightly wound, in large part because he was worried about letting his anger and frustration get the best of him in the immediate aftermath of the loss, though he did assure reporters that his players will be receiving a "strong message" during the spring.
"I really thought about it now," he said. "I just don't want to say something to them that I may regret later, but the message will be very clear to them."
During the press conference, one thing that Strong made clear with his public comments is that there's still a great deal of pride that has to be established in the program once again. There's a standard of effort that leads to a standard of play that the team wasn't able to reach over the last two games of the season. Wasn't able to reach in the other three blowout losses that marked the first time in the history of the program -- which dates back to the inaugural 1893 season -- that Texas had lost five games by 20 or more points.
"The last two games are just so frustrating because you look at the TCU game and you look at this game, that's not an indication of what this football is and what this football team is all about," Strong said. "For that to happen, it's an embarrassment to the program. That should never, ever happen within this program."
Yet, it did. Again. After it had already happened three other times during the season.
Had Texas been able to win either one of those games or even turn in competitive performances, the coaching staff could have pointed to those improvements as a foundation upon which the team could build during the offseason.
Instead, the offseason workouts and spring practice will happen under a cloud of lingering frustration and disappointment, fuel for the fire of Strong's intensity and fuel to the fire of his assistant's intensity, especially among his strength and conditioning coaches.
Those coaches will form the backbone of the offseason since they will be spending the most time with the players until practice begins once again in three months.
When the players report back after the short break for the holidays, Pat Moorer and his staff may work the team harder than they would otherwise because it's clear the team has so far to go in developing mental and physical toughness:
Off season will be pure HELL so get your mind and heart ready to work your ass off and don't complain just work! #HookEm— James Hester (@JHesIronDog) December 30, 2014
Well, that is definitely a clear message. And perhaps it will tear away the last shreds of entitlement.