The reactions to Saturday’s loss overtime loss by the Texas Longhorns to the Kansas Jayhawks was swift and virtually unanimous — at some point in the aftermath, head coach Charlie Strong was going to lose his job.
In a heartbreaking moment, Strong said that he didn’t know what impact the loss would have on his future, but that was the only thing that he could say.
Everyone knew. Multiple sources made it clear what would happen in the immediate aftermath.
Entering Sunday, there was a possibility that something would happen, but not necessarily the expectation that the Texas administration would take immediate action.
However, the typical Monday morning media availability for Strong loomed as a critical moment — with his future all but decided, it made sense for the administration to shield him from that embarrassing scene by either making a final decision by that point or simply canceling his press conference.
Let’s take a look at how things unfolded on a wild day for Longhorns football.
12:30 a.m. CT -- Horns247 reports that Texas is ready to pursue Herman
With a consensus about Strong’s future already in place, a source told Horns247 publisher Bobby Burton that there were “no known obstacles” to the Texas administration pursuing Houston head coach Tom Herman. According to the report, the ‘Horns were ready to move forward with that pursuit in the early hours of Sunday morning.
10 a.m. CT — Kirk Bohls tweets that a decision will come before TCU
Charlie Strong has not been informed of his future yet, sources say. But Greg Fenves wants to treat this with dignity, won't wait till TCU.— Kirk Bohls (@kbohls) November 20, 2016
The Sunday morning wisdom from the longtime Austin American-Statesman writer indicates that the best thing to do is not make Strong wait all week for a decision. It makes sense — last season, Iowa State made the decision at a similar time, announcing it the Sunday after a loss, then allowing Rhoads to meet with the press and coach the final game.
Neat, tidy, respectful.
3:15 p.m. CT — Reports of a Sunday team meeting begin to emerge
Horn Sports was the first to report the meeting, publicly, at least, with Orangebloods confirming not long after:
#Longhorns will have full team dinner tonight. Asked my source if that was the norm ... "No." Could be interesting. #hookem— Jason Suchomel (@OB_JasonS) November 20, 2016
Strong sounded like he was resigned to his future at that point:
I'm told message from Strong to his team at meeting earlier today was, "Be good men. Wins and losses come and go." #Texas— Super K (@SuperK_TFB) November 20, 2016
5:00 p.m. CT — The first of several reports emerge that Texas officials had made the decision to fire Strong
The Austin American-Statesman was the first outlet to report that the administration was in agreement:
University of Texas officials have decided to fire football coach Charlie Strong, however the official announcement may not come until Monday, a high-ranking university source told the American-Statesman.
Texas has decided to fire Charlie Strong source told @ESPN. 1st reported by @kbohls & @ChipBrownHD— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) November 21, 2016
Can confirm the reports about Texas deciding to fire Charlie Strong. The timing of announcing it is still in flux.— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) November 21, 2016
However, Strong apparently wasn’t told:
Charlie Strong hadn't been told of UT's decision by president or AD as of 6:30 p.m. ET— Mark Schlabach (@Mark_Schlabach) November 21, 2016
6:30 p.m. CT — Texas AD Mike Perrin releases a statement saying that Strong will be evaluated after the season
In an apparent effort at damage control, the interim athletic director denied the reports:
“There are a number of rumors out there about the status of Charlie Strong,” Perrin said. “I’ve said it all along, we will evaluate the body of work after the regular season. We have a game to get ready for on Friday, and I hope our fans will come out and support our team. We’ll discuss where things stand after that.”
So, despite the leaky institution known as Longhorns football, the official word from the school was that no decisions had been made, though the damage was done from an optics standpoint, especially with the players.
Texas also confirmed that Strong would appear at his weekly 11 a.m. press conference, sparking further condemnation from many circles.
Sunday evening — Players react to news of firing with support for their head coach
A “post-game hangover” of players distraught about the result against Kansas and likely termination of the head coach spilled over into the aftermath of the initial reports about Strong’s impending termination.
Many players voiced their support for Strong and opposition to his firing on Twitter, including a mass of tweet with #Strong and the hook ‘em or cow emoji:
#Strong pic.twitter.com/ta8OoKRP9I— Patrick Vahe (@PatrickVahe) November 21, 2016
NO STRONG NO UT FOOTBALL!!!!!!! simple as that— Hovaa Gang⛽️ (@erick_fowler) November 21, 2016
I'm in tears!!!— 3️⃣2️⃣™ (@Officialmalcr32) November 21, 2016
10:00 p.m. CT — ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit discusses his phone call with Strong
After calling Austin a “cesspool” in early October on Gameday in College Station prior to the Cotton Bowl match up with Oklahoma, it was no surprise that Herbstreit called his friend in the aftermath of the termination reports, including those from ESPN.
Strong told Herbstreit that he’d heard the reports, but that the Texas administration hadn’t told him anything about his future.
“Everybody here is assuming that I’m fired, but the tricky part is that nobody’s told me anything. I haven’t heard from the university at all,” Strong told Herbstreit, which the analyst passed on to ESPN.
Now it’s just time to wait for the press conference, at which Strong said on the Big 12 teleconference Monday morning he will address questions about his future with an opening statement.