Charlie Strong must be fired after Texas’ indefensible loss to Kansas
Charlie Strong held off the angry mob in Austin for a while. It was a noble effort, too — after an encouraging start and mid-season regression, Strong was able to build up some momentum heading into the final two weeks of the season.
Strong was dead-to-rights halfway through the year, but there was an undercurrent bubbling up that he might just keep his job this winter. He might just get a fourth year in Austin.
That is no longer a possibility. The reason why is simple: A coach on the hot seat cannot lose to Kansas.
But that's exactly what Strong's Texas Longhorns did Saturday.
It was a downright indefensible loss that reverses any positive momentum the Longhorns might have had going. A loss to Kansas, which was improving but only had one win this season — over lowly FCS outfit Rhode Island — is a loss that reverts any program back to rock-bottom.
Strong has lost any benefit of the doubt with the 24-21 overtime loss — it's his third year and a coach who is building something worthwhile cannot lose to Kansas in their third year … or any year.
The Longhorns will have one more game this season — a contest against TCU that could get the Longhorns to bowl eligibility — but Texas' season and Strong's tenure might as well ended Saturday in Lawrence.
Heading into the game there were reports that Strong had a chance to keep his job with two wins in the final two weeks, but also that there was an “extreme pressure” to fire the coach at the end of the season and hire Houston coach Tom Herman.
After Herman's team's win over No. 5 Louisville Thursday — an emphatic victory that reminded the nation just how impressive Herman's two-year run has been — and Texas' loss to the Cleveland Browns of college football, those loud calls are only going to ring louder.
There's no way Strong stays standing through the storm that's heading his way — his footing was uneasy at best going into the week.
Strong is not a bad coach — his work at Louisville earned him a shot at one of the nation's premier programs — but he was never a logical fit or the first choice at Texas.
Strong is a defensive-minded coach in a league that's overwhelmed by super spread offenses and a recruiter who could attribute his team-building successes to the state of Florida but had to change bases and make immediate and significant inroads into the Texas recruiting market. (Strong was successful recruiting at Texas — he had back-to-back Top-10 signing classes, per 247Sports in 2015 and 2016 — but he also signed seven kids from Florida in his first two recruiting classes, a clear sign the transition to a new recruiting base was tough.)
Strong will be a head coach again — he'd be a hit at Cincinnati, should they fire Tommy Tuberville this winter — but the truth that had been avoided for weeks was inexorable Saturday:
Strong hasn't earned a fourth year at Texas. His time in Austin must be over.