It's rare at the University of Texas for the focal points of an offseason not to rest squarely on its players. The stability that comes with having the same head coach for 16 seasons will do that to a program.
This spring appears to be one of those exceptions, though, as the Longhorns prepare to embark on their first spring practice under new head coach Charlie Strong and his staff, which consists of only one holdover from the Mack Brown era (Bruce Chambers).
Because of this, LonghornDigest is going to take a closer look at each member of the staff leading up to the first day of spring practice on March 18.
On Friday we took a look at wide receivers coach Shawn Watson.
Today we'll end our countdown with the man tasked with replacing Brown and building his own legacy as Texas' head coach.
Graduate assistant at Florida, 1983-84; graduate assistant at Texas A&M, 1985; wide receivers coach at Southern Illinois, 1986-87; outside linebackers at Florida, 1988-89; WRs coach at Ole Miss, 1990; defensive ends coach at Florida, 1991-93; assistant head coach/defensive tackles at Florida, 1994; defensive line at Notre Dame, 1995-98; defensive coordinator at South Carolina, 1999-2002; DC/DE at Florida, 2003-04; assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator/LBs at Florida, 2005-07; associate head coach/DC/LBs at Florida, 2008-09, head coach at Louisville, 2010-13.
The Strong Digest:
There were no corners cut by Strong to get this opportunity at Texas. He earned it. Braced by a foundation of tough-as-nails defense, Strong has been one of the hottest coaching commodities in the country over the last handful of years. He really made a name for himself as the defensive coordinator at Florida where he helped the Gators win a pair of national titles – 2008 over Oklahoma and 2006 over Ohio State. All told, he spent 15 seasons at Florida, including seven as the defensive coordinator. He's been a finalist for the Broyles Award (nation's top assistant coach) three times. The job he did at Florida earned him his first head-coaching job at Louisville where he was nothing short of terrific. When he took the program over they were coming off back-to-back losing seasons and a 15-21 record in the three years prior to his arrival. Louisville went 37-15, won two Big East championships and the 2013 Allstate Sugar Bowl over No. 4 Florida under Strong. Over the past two seasons, Louisville has posted a 23-3 record and won consecutive bowl games for the first time in school history.
How he differs from Brown:
No one talked a better game than Mack Brown. And, for the majority of his time at Texas, he backed it up. He could sale a salesman on a used car in record time then buy that same car at a bargain a few minutes later. That's not Charlie Strong. He isn't as media conscious as Brown and isn't the biggest schmoozer to boosters. Their personalities couldn't be more different. In addition, at least upon first glance, Strong is going to recruit out-of-state a lot more than Brown did. Seventy two recruits hold UT offers right now in 2015 and 21 of those live beyond Texas' borders.
Player he will most improve:
Junior WR/RB Daje Johnson. He was one of three players ruled academically ineligible for the Alamo Bowl. That's just not going to fly with a coach in Strong that expects so much of his players academically. If Johnson can buy into what Strong is selling, his athleticism could do wonders for the Longhorns over the next two seasons.
Recruits will love:
His expectations. It's not all about X's and O's and the final score for Strong. He wants you leaving his program a better person than how you came in. Be honest. Treat women with respect and don't dabble in drugs, stealing or guns. They might be common law but Strong wants it known he means business. The rules he's reportedly given players might seem harsh to some, but they could win over plenty of parents. And if you don't think he's serious just ask Leroy Scott and Chet Moss, who were kicked off the team for a violation of unspecified team rules.
Predicting coaching future:
Texas is one of the premiere coaching destinations in the country. As long as he's winning, there's no reason to believe that Strong wouldn't spend the rest of his career here if he had the chance.