Kansas Jayhawks head coach Charlie Weis said at Big 12 Media Days this week in Dallas that he thought Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong was more in the process of instilling a personality change in Austin rather than a culture change.
One player who has always had a strong personality on the team is senior cornerback Quandre Diggs, who addressed the personality change around the team with some eye-opening comments about the group's makeup in years past.
Simply put, Diggs said that some Texas players didn't care enough about the game:
I told Coach Strong that I just feel like we had guys on the team that just didn't love football the way they should. That's something that I've always sensed since I've been here: We had guys that just didn't love football. If you don't love football, you don't need to be a part of this university or a part of this team. That's just something I feel greatly and strong about.
Though the mainstream media hasn't played up Diggs' comments as an indictment of the previous coaching staff, his comments are an absolute indictment of the previous coaching staff, which recruited those players and, in all likelihood, let many of them stick around the program for too long.
It's not hard to imagine how former head coach Mack Brown's complacency in many regards contributed to both of those factors.
Diggs continued with his blunt comments by noting that those players won't be seeing the field at the "New Texas."
There was a prevalent strain of thought when Brown was at the helm that his best teams drew their primary leadership from players with big personalities -- guys like Vince Young, Kasey Studdard, Brian Orakpo, and Roy Miller, among others.
The early returns and the rhetoric from Strong hold that the burden of enforcement and policing on the team in the future will fall less to players and more to the coaches, especially strength and conditioning coach Pat Moorer, who seems to play his role of the enforcer to the hilt.
Ideally, that's how it works at a functional program -- the head coach dispenses punishment, but is removed from the enforcement, a big reason why Strong could honestly say at Big 12 Media Days that the players don't fear him. Why fear a coach who is sincerely concerned with the well-being and development of his players as people?
Now, Moorer on the other hand? There might could be some healthy fear of him instilled in players by this point -- that's functional.
Still, as much as the leadership in Texas football will now be much more top-down than bottom-up, the 2014 version of the Longhorns will no doubt benefit greatly from the presence of Diggs, who seems re-energized with the change in coaching staff and ready to do whatever it takes to reverse the trend of disappointing seasons:
I want to weed guys out. That's just me. I'm an up-front person. All my teammates know me. I'm going to tell you how I feel. I'm not going to jab at anything. I'm going to take an uppercut, take the hardest swing I can take, and I'll try to knock you out.
I don't sugarcoat anything just like [Strong's coaches] don't sugarcoat anything. That's just how I am, how I was born, how I was raised. I love the way they're taking the approach of getting guys out of here that don't belong.
One example of that mentality from the coaching staff? The news that four players were banned from the football facilities this summer and spent time with Moorer as punishment. In addition to Strong establishing his authority and setting the clear precedent that problem players won't be around the team, those players are subject to even more rigorous checks of their grades, whether they're in their dorm past curfew, and possibly to more frequent random drug tests.
Where Brown paid lip service to accountability and hoped for his players to emerge as the type of leaders that would key a successful football team, Strong's actions since he's been on campus have served notice that he's serious about his core values and will not compromise them regardless of the situation.
Accountability is once again a real thing around the Texas football offices and in the locker room.
And so the comments from Diggs are both an indictment of the previous staff and indicative of the new direction of Texas football -- don't expect for any opposing players to show up at the 2015 version of Big 12 Media Days talking about how the Longhorns give up.
Diggs won't allow it, and more importantly, neither will Charlie Strong.
Welcome to the "New Texas," as Diggs calls it.