Annabel Stephan’s Take
Charlie Strong is not messing around.
It's one thing to hear it and an entirely different thing to see it. This week, we have.
We knew that changes were coming to Texas, but you are either prophetic or crazy if you could say that this many players would be dismissed from the team IN ONE WEEK. While this could be a cause for panic, I think the reaction of both players and recruits has been extremely telling. The support for Strong laying down the hammer has been overwhelmingly positive, as we've witnessed in Twitter reactions (ex: Dominic Espinosa, a consensus team leader: "As a 5th year senior, I can promise a team with similar goals and attitudes. 8.30.14. #Hookem")
The truth of the matter is that whatever had been happening at Texas in seasons past was just not working, and Strong is addressing those issues in his own way. Will this help the team going forward? We can't be certain, but probably. It's evident that players are sick of the, in the words of Quandre Diggs, "complacency" at Texas and ready to emerge from being a middle of the conference team.
I also have to commend Charlie Strong on the way he has handled an even more difficult situation in the rape allegations facing Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander. Over the past year, we have heard multiple stories come out regarding violence against women involving college football players. We know that universities are legally not allowed to comment on ongoing investigations, but I am proud of the way Coach Strong immediately dismissed the players and that he is extremely vocal about his players treating women with respect. I think this is a serious issue in today's college football world, yet Strong is the only coach to come to mind who has taken such a vocal stance on the issue, stating in his press conference, "It's been made clear to everyone on our team that treating women with respect is one of our core values, and I'm extremely disappointed that two young men in our program have been accused of not doing that.
"With the recent charges against them, they have been suspended indefinitely from our football team and will no longer participate in any team functions."
Texas Tech also said that they did not tolerate violence against women, yet Nigel Bethel was reinstated shortly after his dismissal for punching a female basketball player. Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon was also accused of hitting a woman over the weekend, but OU has withheld further comment...and those are just two examples.
Kudos to Charlie Strong for standing his ground and not making up his rules on a case by case situation, depending on the talent of the player.
Finally, to end things on a positive note, I love that even though there has been a lot of negatives in the past week, Strong has managed to get three big commitments. Burton (Texas) athlete Louis Brown was huge; to sway a former Baylor commit when the Bears have so much recruiting momentum is a big win for the program. Brown has also been very pro-Strong on Twitter over the past few days. To land 4-star receiver John Burt was another huge win; talent aside, it's great to see the out-of-state ties the Charlie Strong has come into play. (It was reported that Mack Brown and staff had 31 out-of-state players come to the program in 16 years, while Strong already has nine in six months.) To have Burt's commitment immediately followed by that of 4-star defensive tackle Du'Vonta Lampkin, a former Oklahoma commit, especially when players are getting kicked off left and right, is a sign that things are moving in the right direction.
Gabe Brooks’ Take
From a strictly recruiting perspective, I thought what went down Monday afternoon was really interesting. Texas (officially) offering several underclassmen quarterbacks at the same time made for an exciting, if hectic, time for Longhorn fans and media, especially our guys breaking a lot of news here at Horns Digest.
I made this comment in one of the offer threads, but I'll say it again here ... two of the quarterbacks who now officially have offers are the two best underclassmen quarterbacks I've seen this spring/summer: Shreveport Calvary Baptist 2016 QB Shea Patterson and Denton Guyer 2017 QB Shawn Robinson.
My Patterson viewing was limited as it was all Elite 11 regional competition in Dallas in early May. I also saw Robinson there, but then saw Robinson completely dominate the Guyer spring game a few weeks later. Robinson also impressed at the "Under The Lights" camp.
As I said in a thread on this board, Robinson is probably the most impressive quarterback I've seen this offseason not named Kyler Murray. I really think he's a potential superstar in the making at 6-foot-2, 191 pounds entering only his sophomore season of high school. He will likely start ahead of 2015 Nebraska commit Kevin Dillman this fall. He has an electric arm and is a dangerous runner.
So, if you're asking for takeaway, then it'd have to be that Texas obviously knows who to pursue when it comes to underclassmen quarterbacks.
Chip Brown’s Take
I think we've learned Charlie Strong is going to win or lose his way. He's going to drop the hammer to pound the message that his program will punish behavior that violates his 5 core values: 1) Honesty 2) Treat women with respect 3) No drugs 4) No stealing 5) No guns.
It's always interesting to see coaches take a hardline approach while instilling discipline and teamwork in the image of that coach. Remember Randy Edsall running off like 20 players at Maryland when he arrived from UConn? Little by little, Maryland has gone from 2-10 to 4-8 to 7-6. Texas fans won't tolerate that kind of arc.
So Strong has to draw the line while still trying to make sure he's got the talent to win 8 or more games this season.
For those who think Strong is purposely running off players to have an excuse built in for a struggling (or losing) season, that's not how Strong rolls. He is convinced he'll get top-end recruits who can come in and help Texas. And he's starting to show that after grabbing commitments in the past week from former Baylor pledge DE Louis Brown, 4-star WR John Burt and 4-star DT Du'Vonta Lampkin, a former OU commit.
And it sounds like the No. 1 player in the state - 5-star OLB Malik Jefferson of Mesquite Poteet - is listening to Texas. The momentum definitely feels like it has swung in UT's favor. Especially after articles recently by ESPN.com saying the Longhorns had an in-state recruiting problem and that Strong didn't connect with coaches at a clinic in San Angelo this summer.
Strong has a simple philosophy about things: "Recruits want to see your product, and they haven't had a chance to see our product yet."
The headlines last week couldn't be much more negative: Six dismissals dating to last spring as well as indefinite suspensions for WRs Kendall Sanders and Montrell Meander, who were charged with rape (and Sanders with an additional charge of improper photography).
Yet that hardline stance seems to be appreciated by someone like Jefferson and his family. Let's see just how much Jefferson appreciates it when it comes time to select the college of his choice.
Jason Higdon’s Take
Charlie Strong means what he says when it comes to his core values and principles. It will be his way or you will need to find another team.
Regarding new offers, this staff is in no rush. They are going to be very calculating when it comes to extending verbal offers. Long gone are the days of the "token" fictional offer. When Texas offers it’s legit and means something.
William Wilkerson’s Take
If there was an official music video for Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” then Charlie Strong would play the featured roll.
Call him the kick in the pants UT needed after several years of mediocrity or someone who needs to ease off the gas a little bit, he simply doesn’t care.
The sweater vest assassin has a plan for which he’s laid down the foundation, and if you aren’t going to abide by his rules then he’ll replace you with someone that will.
If these dismissals/suspensions hold it could put the Longhorns in some uncomfortable situations in 2014, especially with early games against BYU and UCLA. But Strong is working toward changing the culture at Texas, which was in clear need of an extreme makeover.
On a recruiting front, I thought it was incredibly savvy for the staff to offer these quarterbacks all together as to not really play their hand on which one they like the best.
And offering 2017 star Shawn Robinson this early could pay off in a major way in a few years. I believe he could be a five-star product by the time it’s all said-and-done.