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Regarding Charlie Strong’s future, Texas fans need to let season play out

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Patience, young grasshoppers.

NCAA Football: Texas at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

As the resident Texas Longhorns football expert for a majority of my friends and family, dozens of people have walked up to me and asked the same question over the past few weeks.

“Do you think Charlie Strong’s job is safe?”

After initially searching for statistics, rhetoric, and history to provide a logical and nuanced answer to this complicated question, I inevitably answer with the same four-word response every time.

Let it play out.

Considering the audience, I know how difficult it is to carry out that advice, but it’s necessary to hear. Because in a world dominated by Twitter, circulating coaching rumors, and constant updates from the likes of ESPN, everyone seems to forget the all-important virtue of patience.

I can hear the Tom Herman fan club groaning through the computer screen already. However, before you rush down to the bottom of the screen to chastise me for being a fan boy who’s blind to the future of Texas football, let me clear something up.

I’m not saying Chalrie Strong should stay. I have also flirted with the idea of firing Strong, but giving up on Strong now results in nothing good.

First, despite what fan perception is, the third-year coach has the overwhelming support of his players. Probably no one on this Texas roster exemplifies that love for Strong than sophomore Fox end Breckyn Hager, a rising vocal leader for the Longhorns.

“You have to listen to us as players. We’re saying he’s a great coach, we love him as a coach,” Hager said this week, via 247Sports. “Getting a new coach is just going to set the program back. We have one of the best in the business. You have to keep him. He’s not only a great coach, he’s a great man that’s helping us become better men.”

With such loving adoration from his players, a firing of Strong midseason or overwhelming pressure to make a decision on his future right now would effectively splinter the chemistry of the entire Texas roster. In a situation where the players feel they have no control over the coach’s fate, the end result is usually a catastrophe on the football field.

Second, an effective decision on Strong’s future would result in a recruiting nightmare. Take, for example, the state’s top prospect, defensive tackle Marvin Wilson, who told reporters he would eliminate the Longhorns altogether if they fired the Texas head coach.

One prospect does not a recruiting class make, but the consensus is that Strong’s removal would negatively affect Texas recruiting everywhere. If a decision regarding his future came at the mid-way point, whether it be in official or unofficial capacity, the Longhorns would undoubtedly see negative consequences in recruiting with a lame-duck head coach.

Lastly, the realistic goals held by many Texas fans before the season are still obtainable. An 8-4 season, a mark regarded by many to be a sign of progression under Strong before the season started, is still possible for this Longhorns team, assuming improvements continue on both sides of the ball.

While an eight-win season may be disappointing considering the promising start to the year and a weak Big 12 conference, it would provide tangible results that Strong has the program in the right direction.

It’s hard to dismiss a lot of things this season, I understand. The egregious in-game coaching decisions, the regression of defensive players across the field, and losses to California and Oklahoma State all point to a conclusion that Charlie Strong may not be the right man to serve as Texas’ head man.

I understand that narrative. Heck, I’m close to adopting it, but the hand-wringing and calls for Strong’s job during midseason are closing in on ridiculous. If Strong is not the right man for this job, we’ll be able to conclusively make that decision over the course of a schedule that includes the likes of Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech, and West Virginia.

At this point, however, the jury is still out on Charlie Strong. He may not be the right man for the job, but shots at the coach’s job mid-season reflect poorly on the Texas football program as a whole.

My advice — let’s let the season play out.

Either way, it’s going to be quite a ride.