Cut Coach Strong some slack

John Daywalt

Despite my previous commentary on frustration with the athletic department’s ticketing system prices and options, I believe football head coach Charlie Strong is doing an excellent job leading the football team. Even with a tough loss last weekend, he is making the best of what he can with the players provided and continuing to be a leader in the face of defeat.

Since our devastating near-blowout loss to BYU, Strong has received his fair share of negative feedback. Our football team now holds a 1-2 season record, which could possibly get even worse as two of our next three opponents are ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation. Unfortunately, one of those teams is Oklahoma — but don’t worry, OU still sucks! Plenty of people are already criticizing Strong because he hasn’t produced an undefeated record after only three games with the program. But to be fair, there are only two teams in the Big 12 with 3-0 records at this point of this season. 

What many forget is that Strong did not start with a clean slate. Although he is the head coach, Strong did not have the opportunity to execute his excellent recruiting skills. It is important to remember that Strong was hired last January, with National Signing Day the first week of February. The players UT signed this year were recruited under Mack Brown, not under Strong. Strong was known for his strong recruiting classes at Louisville, and I am excited to see the players he is able to acquire throughout these next few years. 

While Brown was an excellent coach during his tenure, I was not impressed with his recruiting efforts his last couple of years, which ultimately resulted in no Longhorns being drafted into the NFL this past April. Brown also missed out on two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks from Texas in recent years — I played high school football with Robert Griffin III, so I witnessed this personally. Griffin won the Heisman Trophy at Baylor of all schools. Another recruit was a quarterback who ended up winning the trophy at Texas A&M the next season. Both of these players were successful in college football and could have been superstars here on the Forty Acres. Imagine the possibilities once Strong has the chance to recruit future Heisman caliber candidates to UT.

Despite the criticism, Strong has continued to be a leader. During press conferences he has taken full responsibility for his team’s actions. In an interview after the BYU loss, Strong said, “I take responsibility and all the blame for this loss.”

Strong has laid down the law with players. He has stood by his principles and dismissed or suspended players from the team even when it would be more convenient to just let them play. This is especially true for leaders or starters on the team. We don’t know specific team rules that some of the players violated, and some of these violations may just be minor, but Strong is sticking with his principles. Five years from now — presuming Strong is still the head coach — some of these same violations may be given a slap on the wrist. But early on, Strong has no choice but to rule with an iron fist. 

Strong is a true leader and will lead Texas back to our glory days in the future. Let’s give him some time to recruit star players, mold them into superstars and not be so quick to judge his success after only three games. 

Daywalt is a government senior from Copperas Cove.