If I had to guess right now whether or not Charlie Strong would be back at Texas in 2017, I’d say he would not return.
After starting the season off with a bang against a then-ranked Notre Dame team, Charlie Strong and his Texas Longhorns currently sit at a precarious 2-2 as they head into the biggest rivalry game of the year.
Before the season began, the consensus was that Strong had to at least get eight wins this season to prove to those behind the scenes at Texas that he was still the right coach for the job. Whether or not you agreed with that, that’s where things stood.
Ironically, the last time Texas won eight games in a season was Mack Brown’s final season as the head coach in 2013.
Brown’s Texas team also began that season 2-2, had major issues on defense, and he relieved a defensive coordinator of his duties. That time, it was Manny Diaz.
The differences between Brown’s situation and Strong’s are evident, though. There’s no doubt that Strong has been dealing with youth throughout his two of his three seasons at Texas.
But like Brown’s final season, it feels like too many important people are getting to the point where they’ve seen enough mistakes and heard enough excuses from Strong to allow him any more time.
A Texas source says the school is "very close" to deciding to fire Charlie Strong at the end of the season. https://t.co/R5zaLDc1sM— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) October 3, 2016
Eight wins may have been the mark before the season. But the reality now is just getting to eight wins won’t cut it if Strong’s Longhorns limp all the way there.
Even a win against Oklahoma included in those eight wins may not be enough. Not only does the responsibility of correcting the defense now fall squarely on Strong, he also has to pick up the slack as the head coach. You know, the position he was brought to Texas for.
Along with breakdowns on defense, his special teams units have had issues, questions about his in-game management still pop up during games, and his team continues to struggle on the road and look unprepared in too many facets of the game.
Really, the one part of the team many would consider its strength this season, the offense, is the one part Strong admittedly doesn’t have as much involvement in. That side of the football is now run by new offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert.
Demoting Bedford, the second coordinator Strong’s demoted in three years, has gotten the most attention as the sign that Strong is out of lifelines. Behind that, though, other issues have loomed for too long.
With each loss, the odds have continued to stack up against Strong. And at this point, I have my own doubts about Strong’s ability to turn around this defense, beat Oklahoma, and ultimately turn around this team.
I’m not saying it’s impossible, I just now see it as a harder road than some perceive it to be.