Texas booster apologizes to Strong for ‘kick in the face’ comment

Charlie Strong answers questions during an NCAA college football news conference where Strong was introduced as the new Texas football coach.

Eric Gay/AP

Texas coach Charlie Strong is mending fences less than a week into his new job.

Billionaire booster Red McCombs apologized to Strong on Thursday via telephone, according a report in the San Antonio Express-News.

Earlier this week, McCombs referred to Strong’s hiring as a "kick in the face" and said Strong, who went 23-3 in his final two seasons at Louisville, would make a good position coach or coordinator. McCombs had earlier campaigned for ESPN analyst Jon Gruden to replace Mack Brown.

"My interest is in Longhorn athletics, and in the University of Texas," McCombs told the paper. "My interest was to see that we hire one of the best three coaches in the United States."

McCombs has donated more than $100 million to the university and the business school is named for him.

Strong told him during the conversation that an apology wasn’t necessary.

"He wanted my help and my support," McCombs said. "I told him I’d be happy to do it."

He apologized to Strong and anyone "that might have been offended by anything I said or did," but took exception to the idea that his criticism stemmed from Strong being an African-American.

"I’m not sure I knew anything about the race issue until it was broadcast like that," McCombs said. "I didn’t even think about that."