He’s trying to instill a foundation for the rest of these young men's lives and if they won’t abide by his five core values - 1) Honesty 2) Treat women with respect 3) No drugs 4) No stealing 5) No guns – then they won’t continue forward as part of the program.
“The blueprint of this program has been, and always will be, to change and help direct the lives of young people,” Strong said on Tuesday evening. “I’m sorry that another player had to be dismissed. But when you are told something over and over again you want to make sure that you provide them with the right resources so that you can change lives.
“We will continue to develop young men and continue to ask them to follow our core values, which all of them have been brought up on. When you are asked to do something you are a part of the whole team, and when you don’t you affect the whole team. You are affecting your teammates.”
Strong would not comment on which core value Estelle disobeyed but he did say that something happened within the last 24 hours that led to his dismissal. On Monday, Strong mentioned that Estelle and Desmond Harrison, who is also suspended and has yet to play in a game this season, could return to the practice field this week.
Our Chip Brown reported during the first week of September that both offensive tackles told Strong they had a problem with substance abuse/addiction, and Strong bent over backwards for them getting them into rehab supervised by UT personnel.
Sources close to the situation told HornsDigest Tuesday Estelle violated the terms of his rehab program, leading to his dismissal from the team by Strong.
“Anytime a player is dismissed it hurts me,” Strong said. “We aren’t here to run young men off. That’s not our job. When you’ve been given opportunities you want to make sure you have every resource to be successful.”
With LB Deoundrei Davis being dismissed from the team earlier this month (for breaking a non-drug test related core value, sources said), Strong has dismissed 9 players from the team since the spring: FB Chet Moss, S Leroy Scott, WR Kendall Sanders, WR Montrel Meander, RB Joe Bergeron, RB Jalen Overstreet, S Chevoski Collins, Davis and Estelle.
“It’s disappointing when I have to dismiss players,” Strong said. “It hurts me more because you sit there and think ‘Oh my God what did I not do? What could I have done better to help this young man and help them with their future.’”
Strong is positive that young people want discipline and that it was up to he and his coaching staff to provide that for those in his program. The way he sees it, they are helping to lay a foundation for the next 10 years of these player’s lives.
“Right now they are laying a foundation for 10 years from now and that foundation is for the house they will live in, their wife that they will marry, their children and how they will provide and raise them,” Strong said. “If that foundation is provided for them now, 10 years from now they will be able to lean on it and look back and say ‘That’s the life I want to live.’”
Strong refused to place any blame on what’s transpired on Mack Brown saying he followed “an unbelievable head football coach,” and said that there is nothing at Texas that isn’t going on anywhere else.
But when you take over a program, some players might test you and those that have, have quickly learned that Strong is not one to mess with.
“Sometimes when you take over a program you have guys that want to find out who you are and what you’re all about,” he said. “When you say you are going to do something, it’s like your own child, they are going to challenge you. Then what are you going to do about it? It’s not so much the program. It’s just that young men want to make a decision that this is their prerogative that this is what they’re going to do.”
And when one of those players – or nine – bend the rules, sometimes it leaves Strong with no choice but to do what’s best for the program.
“That’s how you lose your locker room when you tell someone to do something and they don’t do it, then you tell them again and you don’t do it,” he said. “The players look at you and say ‘Well you’re not going to do anything coach.’”
Strong has done plenty, though, and insists that he’s not just being too old school in his approach. He said that his players have more fun with him than any other coach in America.
“That’s just the atmosphere that I provide,” he said. “I give them a lot of chances to get it right.”
Longhorns assistant head coach for offense/quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson echoed those sentiments saying that “it kills” Strong to dismiss players.
“I’ve seen this guy believe in so many people,” Watson said. “I can remember times at Louisville, I knew there was something bad for the team and he saw something in the individual that he changed peoples lives. But here’s the key, they wanted their lives change. Sometimes it doesn’t work. He is the last guy to ever give up on a kid, the last.”
In a bit of positive news Strong mentioned that Harrison and Daje Johnson, who has been suspended since before the season opener, were doing everything they’ve been asked to do and is hopeful they’ll return.