Texas AD says Charlie Strong to be evaluated after next game
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas says nothing has been decided on football coach Charlie Strong.
Longhorns athletic director Mike Perrin, in the face of swirling reports that school officials had decided to fire Strong at the end of a third bad season, dismissed them as “rumors” and said the coach would be evaluated after playing TCU on Friday.
Perrin, who has been publicly supportive of Strong all season, didn't say Strong would return.
“There are a number of rumors out there about the status of Coach Strong. 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 against TCU on Friday, and I hope our fans will come out and support our team. We'll discuss where things stand after that,” Perrin said.
That sets up an awkward Monday for Strong when he addresses reporters on the Big 12 coaches conference call, and then later at his weekly campus news conference, which is televised by the Longhorn Network.
Texas President Greg Fenves, who has also been supportive of Strong this season, was silent on the coach's future Sunday.
With top administrative support, Strong appeared relatively safe until Saturday's 24-21 overtime loss at lowly Kansas. Texas (5-6, 3-5 Big 12)) held an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter.
Perrin refused to address reporters after the loss, and Strong, with his wife weeping outside the team lockerroom, said he didn't know what the loss would mean for his future.
“No, I don't. No idea,” Strong said.
But Strong was back at work Sunday. A team spokesman said Strong and his staff kept to their routine of meeting Sunday morning to review game film and start preparations for the next game.
Strong is in the third year of a five-year contract, but not even a $10 million buyout could be enough to save him. He has failed to take the program to the same heights he took Louisville. He is 16-20 at Texas and in danger of finishing with his third straight losing season.
His only bowl appearance came in 2014, when the Longhorns lost to Arkansas in the Texas Bowl.
“You're upset. You never want this to happen,” said Texas quarterback Shane Buechele, who threw an interception on the first possession of overtime that allowed Kansas to kick the winning field goal.
“You have to get everyone to rally back. We're a family in there,” Buechele said, before adding of Strong: “We're going to fight for him this next game.”
The Longhorns have shown some fight this season, beating Notre Dame in double overtime to open the season, ever-so-briefly giving Strong a reprieve from all the critics.
But close losses at California, Oklahoma State and in the Red River Rivalry against Oklahoma put an end to any fuzzy feelings. Another close loss to Kansas State a couple of weeks later combined with last week's 24-20 loss to West Virginia put his job in peril.
Nothing could be more damaging than a loss to the Jayhawks, though.
Kansas hadn't beaten a Football Bowl Subdivision school since 2014, and hadn't won a conference game in 19 tries. The Jayhawks' only win in nearly two seasons under coach David Beaty was against lower-level Rhode Island in the season opener, and the Longhorns had handled them in their last 13 meetings.
Yet four turnovers in the second quarter got the Longhorns in trouble, and more missteps down the stretch allowed Kansas to overcome a 21-10 deficit and force overtime in the final seconds of regulation.
Matthew Wyman's 25-yard field goal sent Strong striding off the field.
“This one hurts,” Texas wide receiver Jacore Warrick said. “Everyone is disappointed. We wanted to come out. We wanted to play well. Ultimately, no matter what happens throughout the game, the end result, we want to be a W. And it's not. We could have put the game away early.”
Asked about his coach's future, Warrick replied simply: “Trying not to think about it.”