Chip Shot

What was Charlie Strong really saying when he told the Comin' On Strong tour stop in Fort Worth that Texas won't be in the national championship game this year?

Especially when Auburn went from 3-9 to the national championship game a year ago?

I spoke with some people close to Strong who told me everything Strong says is directed to his players. Not to the fans. Not to the media.

And Strong's message to his players (and, thus, everyone else) has been, "We've got a long way to go."

When I asked people close to some seniors on this team what those players thought of Strong's comments, they said it was no big deal.

"Charlie made it clear in the first team meeting that he expected to win now and that the program was going to be about championships," one source close to a senior player said. "The players know Charlie is not going to give this team one, single reason to relax or feel entitled about how good they are.

"Charlie is never going to sell hope the way it was around here before. Any glory the players get in the program now will come after winning games on the field, not from their coach's mouth before that."

After that conversation, I realized just how plugged in Strong is to his players.

I had a subsequent conversation with former Longhorns' S Michael Griffin about Strong. And Griffin said Strong is taking every last step to rid the program of entitlement.

Griffin said he asked Strong about the players not throwing their Horns up during Pro Day.

"I asked him (Strong), 'What about the Spring Game? They're going to play the Eyes, and the players are supposed to throw their Horns up?'" Griffin said. "And he said, 'Yeah, I might have to let 'em do it then. But when we get back for those two-a-days, it's back to zero.'"

Strong knows how tough players have to be. He's coached the likes of Carlos Dunlap, Brandon Spikes and Joe Haden. Strong lives his life that way. The discipline he shows is the way he lives - getting up at 4:30 am every weekday for a 5-6 mile run; meeting with the academic support staff every Thursday to go over every player on the roster.

Junior DT Malcom Brown said after the spring game he welcomes the hard coaching Strong and his staff have brought in.

"I'm sure everybody, at some point in their career, has had hard coaching," Brown said. "I came from a high school with hard coaching (Brenham under Glen West). So I'm used to it.

"When the new staff came in, I just felt like everybody knew by the way Coach Strong was talking he was serious about what he was going to do. Because everything he said he was going to do, he did it.

"Then, they had so many punishments for us. If you mess up, you're going to get in trouble. They're on that. So I feel like everybody knows we have to stay in line. If we do, we're going to get it right."

One source close to Strong said if a player went to Strong to ask him about saying Texas won't play in the national championship game this year, Strong would reply, "I need reasons to say we would be in the national championship game. And I haven't seen those yet. So show me. Give me the reasons."


I absolutely believe Strong is all about his players. I think he has helped turn around some players with questionable attitudes and is still in the process of doing that with some others.

He's done it by showing those players how much he cares, by inviting them to his office to spend time with him, to do their homework in his conference room next to his office.

He's done it by working out with them and talking trash to them.

And when he hands out praise to one of those players in the media, he does it to reward them for their change in attitude as much or moreso than any play they made in practice.

His players would be shocked, at this point, if Strong started talking them up because he's still in the process of breaking them down and ridding them of any entitlement.

I've said this before, but there is a senior on this team who thought of graduating this semester and giving up football, even though he has a year of eligiblity left. He was simply burned out and exhausted by all the drama in the program the last four years.

But his father talked him into waiting for the new coaching staff to be hired. And now that player wishes he was a sophomore and has never worked harder in his life. Strong is getting through to these players.

And just remember that anything Strong says to fans and to the media is really directed to his players.

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