Charlie Strong took over as the Longhorns’ head coach in 2014 with one goal in mind: He wanted to put the ‘T’ back in Texas.
Two years and three seasons later, he ultimately failed. Although Strong kicked out several players who didn’t adhere to his five core values for the program, he failed to bring the toughness required to manage a winning team in a power five conference.
Strong’s successor, former Houston head coach Tom Herman, spoke to the Austin media for the first time Sunday evening as the man in charge of Texas football. He preached accountability on behalf of his players, a fatal flaw that eventually ousted Strong.
“The first few months is going to be a lot of proving,” Herman said. “A lot of me proving myself to the players and the plan and a lot of the players proving themselves to not only me and our coaches, but to their teammates as well.”
Strong’s team showed its love and praise for its coach until the bitter end but never proved it on the field. But Herman has the reins now, and the Longhorns appear poised to move forward — more so than with Strong at the helm just days ago.
Herman is a proven winner. He holds a 22–4 record in two years as head coach at Houston. Strong recorded six or more losses in five of his seven career seasons as an FBS head coach. The 41-year-old still can’t match Strong in years of experience, but he already knows not only how hard it is to win, but exactly how to do it, too.
“They don’t give and hand out championship trophies,” Herman said. “Never once have I ever seen a football coach ever hoist a championship trophy … and say, ‘You know, we out-finessed them.’ That’s never come out of any coach’s mouth ever.”
Sure, Herman kisses each of his players on the cheek before they take the field every Saturday. But he also runs a rigid, tough program. If he didn’t, athletic director Mike Perrin wouldn’t have been so adamant to replace Strong mere hours after Texas’ loss to TCU Friday night.
“Tom Herman was our choice after meeting with him that night,” Perrin said. “And [we’re] very, very impressed with everything he did to get to this point in his career. So he’s the clear choice.”
University President Gregory Fenves was fully on board, too. When he and Perrin met with Herman at an undisclosed location late Friday night, Fenves liked what he heard.
“We talked for several hours to determine if he was the right coach for the University and if we were the right university for him,” Fenves said. “The answer was yes to both questions.”
Success doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t always happen with time, either. Charlie Strong learned that the hard way.
But just days into his tenure in Austin, Herman already has big plans for Texas in mind. He said his team will be the most mentally and physically tough squad to hit the gridiron each and every Saturday.
And most importantly, he’s ready to bring results.
“It’s not going to be Camp Texas around here, I can tell you that,” Herman said. “This is going to be a very difficult program, especially at first. And you’re going to have to earn the respect and trust and love of our coaching staff and of myself.”