Column: Despite broken promises, Strong’s rebuild needs patience

Ezra Siegel

No, head coach Charlie Strong isn’t bolting to coach at Miami. He isn’t getting fired, and he’s not resigning either.

At 4-7, there’s no doubt Strong’s season hasn’t gone as planned. The team’s record is especially troubling — Strong said Nov. 17, 2014, that five losses “will never happen again.” But Strong knows there’s more to the season than the team’s record. Rebuilds don’t happen overnight, and Texas is building a foundation.

“[A 4-7 record] is never our goal and never will be,” Strong said. “I know this, we’re back there again. But you look at what we have, and I think the future is very bright.”

Strong has plenty of reasons to bank on Texas’ future. Redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard has flashed the ability to lead Texas’ offense. Freshman linebacker Malik Jefferson and freshman cornerback Holton Hill are already instrumental to the Longhorn defense. Additionally, freshman wide receiver John Burt leads the team in receiving yards and touchdowns. And freshman running back Chris Warren is coming off a 276-yard, four-touchdown game.

The freshman class’ impact signals a bright future for Texas — especially since several talented freshmen have yet to play. But the most encouraging aspect of Strong’s rebuild is his players’ unwavering support for their head coach. The players already responded with a 24-17 win over No. 3 Oklahoma when the national media questioned Strong’s job security. Although their momentum has since fizzled, they still preach faith in Strong’s system.

“I think the coaches and coach Strong have done a tremendous job recruiting and instilling the right values in this place,” senior center Taylor Doyle said. “That culture is something you can hang your hat on. And when you have that as a foundation moving forward, the sky is the limit.”

A talented freshman class and a group of invested players doesn’t excuse Strong for the team’s issues. His staff failed to implement the up-tempo spread offense he hyped for months leading into the season. Additionally, a seeming lack of preparation led to several losses Longhorn fans want to forget — including a 50-7 loss at then-No. 4 TCU and a 24-0 shutout at Iowa State.

But Strong still has time to turn the ship around. He’ll need to hire an offensive coordinator equipped to implement his offensive vision. He must continue to develop his young players and supplement them with another talented recruiting class. He has support from his team and from interim athletic director Mike Perrin. Now, he just needs patience from the Texas faithful.

 “I personally think the staff is great,” senior defensive end Shiro Davis said. “We are just in a rebuilding phase right now, and it’s taking a little while longer than expected. But once we get it turned around, Texas will definitely be a team to look out for.”