If Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong goes the way of former LSU Tigers head coach Les Miles, it will be after the season, a source told ESPN on Saturday after the road loss to the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
As athletic director Mike Perrin and school spokesperson John Bianco indicated after the game, Perrin’s post-game comment about needing to “evaluate what happened” in Stillwater didn’t mean that Strong’s termination was an imminent or even likely midseason decision.
So what happens next week when the Longhorns travel to Dallas to take on the Oklahoma Sooners in the annual Red River Showdown at the Cotton Bowl?
The source believes that the result won’t immediately impact Strong’s continued employment by Texas:
This year's Oklahoma game is critical for Strong, but his future does not depend on the outcome, the source said. If the Longhorns continue to struggle, though, the most likely scenario is that the defensive staff would be sacrificed for Strong to return in 2017, the source said.
After the loss to Cal, Strong was quick to take ultimate responsibility for the defense, so it’s hard to envision a scenario where the results would be good enough to retain Strong, but poor enough to force him to cut ties with his defensive staff.
However, since the offense is scoring consistently, perhaps a 7-5 season with continued defensive issues forces Strong to make the choice between his own job and that jobs of defensive assistants like coordinator Vance Bedford.
Faced with a similar decision, reportedly, former Texas basketball coach Rick Barnes chose to resign and the guess here is that Strong would do the same in a similar circumstance.
So while Strong may not be the football coach for the Longhorns in 2017, don’t look for his tenure to end before the season finale against the Horned Frogs in Austin on the day after Thanksgiving.