CFB AM: Longhorn sends brutally honest shot to Texas teammates
JUL 23, 2014 9:00a ET
Part one of Charlie Strong’s “put the T back in Texas” campaign was simple enough: restore a hardness to the program that had eroded over the last few seasons.
Strong began by implementing simple, discipline-driven rules – sit in the front two rows of class, no earrings in the football facility, etc – designed to establish toughness and order in the way he prefers things to be done.
If part two was finding an in-house sheriff to enforce this standard, consider that done as well.
Senior cornerback Quandre Diggs said a lot on Tuesday at Big 12 Media Days, and most of his words were designed to deliver a brutally honest message to his teammates who aren’t totally committed.
"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.
"I'm one of those guys where, you don't need to give me a pep talk to go out and play the game I love. I want to go out there, I want to be tough, I want to be physical with guys. I think when I'm healthy I'm one of the best players in the country, no doubt about it. I have a voice on this team and it means a lot and I say what I want to say around these guys. Those guys look up to me. Guys that don't respect it, I really don't care."
Diggs was just getting fired up at this point. He continues:
"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."
"Heck, if it was up to me and Coach Strong asked me, I'd help him weed guys out."
"I feel like the most humbling place you can be is on the bench. You ought to humble yourself if you're on the bench. You shouldn't get no recognition if you're not playing. You should swing the towel and accept it and be happy they're paying for your school. If you came to the University of Texas, you should be a great football player that wants to go out and compete each and every week. That's how I look at it.
"I came in with a chip on my shoulder. Still have that chip on my shoulder. I'll always have that chip on my shoulder. That's just the way I am. I feel like some guys have had things given to them throughout their life. I've lived a great life, I have a brother that takes care of me, but I don't want to live off my brother. I want to live my own life and be successful.
"There's 125 alpha males in there and everybody wants to be the man. If you don't think you're the man, you're weak-minded. That's just the way it is, you're going to have conflict. Heck, I get into conflict every week. I talk a lot of trash. I try to say whatever I can just to get under somebody's skin and make those guys push us even harder."
Those are some bold words, and I presume Strong loves them. Of course, this raises the expectation of Diggs’ 2014 season. Talk grows tiresome if you don’t produce.
How tough is this new Texas team? Week 2 against BYU and Week 3 against UCLA in Arlington will say something.
THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. The second day of Big 12 Media Days was mostly about Strong and the transition out of the Mack Brown era. “We’re not as bad as we used to be,” Strong said when asked to assess his team. Kansas State’s Bill Snyder gave him some good advice on how to be successful at Texas, saying, “The important thing is just be who you are. And if you indeed do that, be who you are, care about people, I think things can work out fine for him.”
There was also some interest around how Strong would handle his first Big 12 Media Days, given his reputation as being not as adept at the front-facing part of his job. All of that has been a bit overblown, I think. He’ll never be as sugary as Mack Brown, but charisma seems to take on a different perception when paired with on-field success.
2. There was a really important and unfortunate piece of news in the Big 12 on Tuesday: TCU’s Devonte Fields was suspended from the team as he’s being investigated for an alleged assault in which he allegedly punched a former girlfriend in the head and threatened her with a gun. Fields was the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2012 and was suspended for the first two games of 2013 for violating team rules before injuring his foot two games later and missing the rest of the season. If Fields doesn’t return to the program, it’s a huge blow to TCU. He was recently voted the preseason Defensive Player of the Year in the Big 12, and when we had coach Gary Patterson on The Audible a couple weeks ago, he spoke with excitement about getting Fields back. Listen to that conversation here:
THREE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
1. Texas named David Ash the starting quarterback on Tuesday. Ash was recently cleared for full practice after breaking his foot in spring camp; he’s also had an extensive concussion history that required him to miss a large chunk of last season while the team struggled to diagnose his symptoms. Ash is the most sure thing among Texas’ choices at QB, but there’s no certainty he remains healthy through the season, and it also prolongs the mystery of who’s the QB of the future. Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes needs work, and highly-regarded freshman Jerrod Heard is just beginning his Texas career. Hopefully Ash has a healthy and productive season; if not, where Strong goes at QB will be a driving storyline in the Big 12.
"I don't see that," Saban said on The Herd with Colin Cowherd. "I don't know where people get those opinions. Like I think the compliance in our league is actually better than it's ever been. I think (SEC commissioner) Mike Slive, that was one of his babies when he came in, he was going to make sure that we had a clean league and people did the right things. When you don't walk the walk in our league, you're going to get called down by our conference offices as much as the NCAA."
It's not perfect, Saban said. There are challenges facing the NCAA when it doesn't have subpoena powers.
"But I don't see players getting bought. I don't see players getting extra benefits any place," Saban said. "I think recruiting is so transparent now, I think most people are scared to death that they would get caught publicly — not by the NCAA, not by the conference office.
"But even if you have illegal contact with a player, he tweets that you talked to him. So that's a violation. I mean, it's so transparent, you almost have to do things correctly because I don't think anybody needs to catch you. I think the public would catch you."
THREE THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO KNOW
1. Bovada released updated national title odds, and Alabama is now co-favorites with FSU at 11/2. It seems like Vegas has been listening to all the SEC-is-unstable talk, because the biggest leap made in the updated odds came from Ole Miss, which jumped from 66/1 to 40/1 odds.
2. Former Penn State assistants Jay Paterno and Bill Kennedy are suing the university for more than $1 million, stating their release from the school in the wake of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case gave them “pariah status” and has ruined their reputation. We had Paterno on The Audible a little while back to discuss what it was like being inside that storm. Listen here:
3. Nick Saban and Steve Spurrier were on TV together on Tuesday, and when Saban was asked something about how he pitches recruits on playing time, the side-eye look Spurrier gave him was priceless. Have a good chuckle:
Christian and Sam Ponder named their daughter after Bobby Bowden, Christian’s college coach at Florida State.
What else needs to be said?
Have a good Wednesday, all.
What is CFB AM? Click here and scroll to 'Lastly.'
Teddy Mitrosilis is an editor and writer for FOXSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TMitrosilis and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.