New attitude, winning among many changes expected for Texas in 2014

Garrett Callahan

In the past 12 months, Texas has been buzzing with changes.

Longtime Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds retired while Steve Patterson came in to fill his large shoes. On the football field, Texas hired Charlie Strong as the new head coach, and with him came a whole new team of coaches. Things changed quickly, and while Longhorn fans said goodbye to the Mack Brown era, Strong was already planning the beginning of his own.

And still, as the Longhorns prep for the start of the 2014 campaign, there are many more changes to come — the main one being winning.

After nine straight 10-win seasons, Brown set a standard so high that it basically pushed him from the helm of Texas 16 years after he started. For the past three years, the Longhorns experienced mediocrity with a 9-4 season and two 8-5 seasons that ended with non-BCS bowl appearances.

But now, with a revamped football staff and a new attitude surrounding the program, Longhorn fans should expect to win again.

Strong has brought in a staff with experience at making a losing team into a winning team. Four of Texas’ new coaches traveled to Austin with Strong from Louisville, which made a remarkable turnaround under the new Texas head coach. The Cardinals had a 4-8 record in 2009, the season before Strong started, and, by the time he and his staff finished, they had four bowl appearances and three bowl wins under their belts and a 12-1 record in Strong’s last season.

Strong’s biggest challenge will be to change attitudes. During Brown’s last few years, players became complacent and many players expected to win just because they had on a Texas uniform. However, Strong — as he already pointed out with the dismissal of four players last month and the possible suspension of three starters to begin the season — plans to change that pattern.

“Our whole attitude has to change,” Strong said. “This program will never change — this culture will never change — until the attitude of the players change. Right now, [change] is coming from the coaches. I told them the seniors have to take over the leadership of this football team.”

Strong hopes these changes will add up to more wins for Texas. However, those victories might not come all at once.

This season will be a test for the Longhorns as Strong begins his new era in Austin. With a sturdy roster returning and an influx of potentially great freshman, the Longhorns should gather 10 wins this season, which would be the first time since 2009. And, while it will take time, Strong — along with his carefully picked staff — will bring Texas back to the
national spotlight.