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Texas DC Vance Bedford welcomes negative recruiting efforts

Strong and his staff believe the core values will attract recruits, not deter them.

Chris Covatta

The battle lines were drawn in the spring between the Texas Longhorns and other in-state programs, most notably the Texas A&M Aggies.

As the arrests in College Station piled up and the Purge began in Austin during the month of July, the differences between the two programs and what the two head coaches are selling became even more stark.

With Strong emphasizing his set of five core values and willing to dismiss key contributors, perhaps costing the program a win or two or three in the process, the debate continues to rage about how recruits will react to the approach at Texas.

Count Longhorns defensive coordinator Vance Bedford as someone who welcomes other programs to attempt to use negative recruiting against Texas in that regard.

"I hope they do because I think it's a positive," Bedford said Wednesday. "Because if someone is using it as a negative against us, then you talk to parents and they go "really?" So it's ok to let your son do whatever he wants to do whenever he wants to do it, and they are going to say no."

Ultimately, Bedford believes that the five core values Strong will go to such great lengths to enforce are the same values that every parent tries to instill in their children.

"We want to make people do things the right way," Bedford said. "When you talk about core values in somebody's home, you are going to tell your son or daughter to not be honest? You're going to tell you son or daughter it's okay to steal? You are going to say it's okay to use drugs? If you have a son, it's okay to hit a female? So that's okay if they are in your home? I don't think so."

"We are not doing anything different from what a parent is doing in their own home. What's wrong with that? I want someone out there to tell me what's wrong with that because something is obviously wrong with us being like parents because I'm getting that question. So what's wrong with that? Whose got a question about what's wrong with that if you have kids? Nobody said anything."

When talking about preparing football players for their life after they hang up their pads for good, Strong's sincerity comes through.

"Young people want discipline in their lives, and it's our job as a coaching staff to make sure that we provide him with discipline," he said.

"I always look at it like this -- right now, they are laying a foundation for 10 years from now. That foundation is the house they are going to live in, the wife they are going to pick to marry, their children and how they're going to provide for them and how they're going to raise them. If that foundation is provided for them now, 10 years from now they'll just be able to lean back on it and look back and say 'That's the life that I want to live. That's the life that I want provided for me.'"

Does that mean that playing football at Texas now can't be fun?

Strong himself countered the notion that he's all work and no fun on Tuesday when he showed up at the weekly media availability for play caller Shawn Watson to discuss the dismissal of junior offensive tackle Kennedy Estelle that morning.

"I'm not hard at all. Those guys have more fun around me then they will ever have around any coach, and that's just the atmosphere that I provide for them," said Strong. "I give them a lot of chances to get it right because I want them to still be successful."

And seeing the Texas head coach laughing as famous alum Matthew McConaughey on Wednesday evening as the actor took the team through the Wolf of Wall Street chant provides evidence to support that assertion.

Playing football at Texas under Charlie Strong isn't about a "boot-camp mentality" every day, the drudgery of tough conditioning seasons with Pat Moorer, or injury time in the Pit.

There are lighter moments and Strong has gone out of his way this fall to talk about how he wants games to be fun, a result of the confidence he has instilled in players after breaking them down and building them back up.

If other programs want to attempt to use the discipline that young players need against the program, Strong and his staff will merely shrug and turn back to the parents of recruits who will entrust their children's lives to a staff for four or five years and resume talking about how their child will be a man when he emerges.

At that point, which is going to win out, the negative spin on the program or the sincerity of the head coach and his assistants?