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Charlie Strong Officially Named Texas' New Head Football Coach

USA Today
Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 5, 2014

As expected, the Texas Longhorns have a new head coach. The program confirmed the hire of Charlie Strong in a press release on its website on Jan. 5:

Charlie Strong named 29th head football coach. http://t.co/w190q2PPeo

— Longhorn_FB (@Longhorn_FB) January 5, 2014

In the release, Strong commented on his exit from Louisville to head to Austin:

I'm excited and my family is excited to have the chance to lead one of the premier football programs in the country. Texas is one of those places that is always on your radar and a program anyone would dream of being a part of because you have a chance to compete on a national level every year. It's special because it has such great history, pride, tradition and passion for football.

Strong was officially introduced at a press conference at 12 p.m. ET, 11 a.m. local time, on Jan. 6, as ESPN Texas documented:

New Texas head coach Charlie Strong with Powers, Patterson pic.twitter.com/grt0nqCBro

— ESPN Texas (@ESPNTexas) January 6, 2014

Charlie Strong: “It’s a program that won 4 national titles. It’s time to put the program back on the national stage."

— ESPN Texas (@ESPNTexas) January 6, 2014

Charlie Strong: “Coach Brown and I spoke last night. I told him I want to continue tradition."

— ESPN Texas (@ESPNTexas) January 6, 2014

Charlie Strong: “We want to continue to build the pride and great reputation of this program."

— ESPN Texas (@ESPNTexas) January 6, 2014

Charlie Strong on when the job opened: “When you have an opportunity to go to the best, you have to put your name in it."

— ESPN Texas (@ESPNTexas) January 6, 2014

Pete Thamel of Sports Illustrated has the details on Strong's contract:

Strong's deal will be 5 years and $25 million and they've agreed to work through the $4.3 million buyout.

— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) January 5, 2014

This was the worst-kept secret in college football, as it was reported earlier in the weekend that Strong would be taking the job. Then, late on Jan. 4, ESPN's Brett McMurphy and Joe Schad reported the head coach met with Louisville's athletic director, Tom Jurich, which was likely about Strong's impending move to Austin:

Charlie Strong informed UL AD Tom Jurich tonight he was leaving UL for Texas a source told @ESPN

— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) January 5, 2014

Bleacher Report's Adam Kramer sums up the attitude from the general consensus of college football fans:

Happy for Charlie Strong, bummed for Louisville, hopeful for Texas, glad it's over. The coaching carousel is weird, man.

— Adam Kramer (@KegsnEggs) January 5, 2014

Strong replaces the legendary Mack Brown, who announced his resignation on Dec. 14.

Brown leaves big shoes to fill. His 158 wins over 16 years are the second most in school history, nine behind Darrell Royal's 167. Brown also won two conference championships and one national title.

In the release, Strong talked about taking over for a coach of Brown's stature:

To follow a future Hall of Fame coach like Mack Brown, who built a program that had great success and a reputation of doing it with class and integrity, is extra special. The National Championship, BCS Bowl wins and all he accomplished in 16 years built on the Longhorn legacy and makes it such an exciting place to be.

Coach Brown developed such a strong bond with his players, the lettermen, community and high school coaches in this state, and that's something I hope to build on. He made everyone feel at home. I had the opportunity to speak at the High School Coaches Clinic in Austin a few years ago and Coach Brown introduced Coach (Darrell) Royal, and everyone gave him a standing ovation. Meeting Coach Royal and being around him that day is something I'll never forget.

Brown also commented on Strong's hire via Jake Trotter of ESPN:

Mack Brown on Charlie Strong: "I've known Charlie Strong for a long time and Texas not only hired a tremendous coach but also a great man."

— ESPN Big 12 (@ESPN_Big12) January 6, 2014

It was obvious Texas wouldn't waste any time in announcing a new head coach. It was imperative for the Longhorns to begin the rebuilding process as quickly as possible, especially to assure potential recruits that the team's future is in the right hands. Strong emerged from a large field of candidates, including Alabama coach Nick Saban, who had been linked repeatedly to the job.

However, Texas athletic director Steve Patterson said that Saban was never a candidate (via Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News):

Texas AD Steve Patterson says Nick Saban was never a candidate and there was "some overstatement" about interest of others.

— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) January 5, 2014

Despite that, there's little doubt that Strong is one of the best men for the job.

At Florida, he built a reputation as one of the best defensive minds in the country. The Gators suffocated opposing teams en route to two national titles during his time as defensive coordinator.

He took over at Louisville in 2010, where he compiled a 37-15 record over four seasons. The highlight of his time with the Cardinals was a 33-23 win over Florida at the 2013 Sugar Bowl.

Under Strong's stewardship, Louisville saw a marked defensive improvement. Per ESPN Stats & Info:

During his four seasons, the Cardinals were in the top 10 in the FBS in points per game, yards per game, yards per play and sack percentage. In the three years before Strong’s arrival, Louisville ranked 75th or worse in each of those categories.

This season Louisville’s opponents converted an FBS-low 26.7 percent of third downs. Strong’s teams also featured sure tackling. The Cardinals defense allowed just 14 broken tackles, which led all schools from automatic-qualifying conferences this season. Louisville allowed just one touchdown of 20 or more yards this season, fewest in the FBS (Florida State ranks second with three).

Jurich discussed Strong's departure at a press conference, via Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News:

Jurich on Strong to Texas: "I don’t think he went into this thinking he would be head coach at Texas. It evolved into that."

— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) January 5, 2014

Strong and Jurich met at Strong's house for an hour last night. "I knew he was going to Texas." Wanted to show his appreciation to Strong.

— Chuck Carlton (@ChuckCarltonDMN) January 5, 2014

It's the perfect tonic for a team that surrendered 550 yards to the BYU Cougars in a 40-21 loss this year. The Longhorns finished 68th in total defense, giving up 224.2 yards a game through the air (52nd) and 183.1 yards a game on the ground (83rd).     

With Strong in the fold, Texas should see immediate improvement on the defensive side of the ball.

Nobody can say for sure whether Strong will be the man to bring the Longhorns back to the summit of college football, but few would seem as well equipped to pick up from where Brown left off. 

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