The apparent culture change within the University of Texas football program continued Friday as yet another player was ousted from the team.
According to Chip Brown of HornsDigest.com, new Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong dismissed senior running back Joe Bergeron due to unspecified rule violations:
Brown later reported on two more players dismissed from the program (subscription required):
ESPN's Max Olson also reports that "according to one source close to the situation, as many as five more Texas players could be facing dismissals due to violations of team rules."
Bergeron was forced to miss part of spring practice due to apparent academic issues, per Anwar Richardson of OrangeBloods.com. Despite that, he was able to work his way back onto the team and drew praise from Strong:
He'll be back in the mix, has done everything we've asked him to do, not only academically but just showing up doing those little things. When you take something away from a player sometimes and when you take something away that they really enjoy doing, then you can see a lot of change, and that changes very quickly if it's important to them.
Bergeron's foray out of the doghouse was apparently short-lived, as he now finds himself in purgatory. With that said, his dismissal isn't necessarily official since he has the option to appeal, according to Richardson.
The veteran back is just the latest Longhorn whom Strong has taken disciplinary action against in recent days. Running back Jalen Overstreet and defensive back Chevoski Collins were dismissed Thursday due to rule violations, per Taylor Gaspar of OrangeBloods.com.
Additionally, wide receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander were suspended indefinitely after being charged with sexual assault, per Ryan Autullo, Brian Davis and Tony Plohetski of the Austin American-Statesman.
Bergeron had been used inconsistently during his time at Texas, accruing fewer than 1,400 total rushing yards over three years. He is coming off a season in which he rushed for 362 yards and four touchdowns.
His most productive campaign came in 2012 when he rumbled for 567 yards and 16 scores. Bergeron is a tough runner at 6'1" and 230 pounds, but the Longhorns will no longer have him at their disposal.
Even so, Jeremy Fowler of CBSSports.com doesn't expect the dismissal to hurt Texas much since it possesses a lot of depth at the running back position:
Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray combined to rush for nearly 1,700 yards last season, so Bergeron found himself on the outside looking in to some degree.
Dismissing a player is always a last resort, but Strong clearly felt as though it was his only choice. He is certainly trying to make his presence felt at Texas and has done that to great effect already.
Whether or not his team responds to this brand of tough love remains to be seen, but the Strong era already has a decidedly different feel than the Mack Brown years.
Strong has no tolerance for violations of team rules, and Bergeron and a number of his teammates are finding that out the hard way.
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