USA Today


Two high-ranking Texas sources told they expect Charlie Strong to be fired at season's end - following a shocking, six-turnover, overtime loss at previously 1-9 Kansas. Another source close to the situation said UT president Greg Fenves wouldn't make a final decision until after next week's TCU game.

One high-ranking Texas source told Saturday night, "I do not see how he (Strong) can survive. But who knows?" Another high-ranking UT source said, "It's over."

The decision and any announcement will ultimately be made by Texas president Greg Fenves and athletic director Mike Perrin. Fenves couldn't immediately be reached for comment, and Perrin wouldn't comment outside the locker room after the game.

One source close to the situation said he didn't expect Fenves to announce the decision on Strong until after Texas' regular-season finale against TCU next Friday.

"We owe that respect to the student-athletes," the source said.

Strong has two years and $10.9 million remaining on a five-year guaranteed contract. Overall, it would cost Texas roughly $18.6 million to buy out the contracts of Strong and his assistant coaches.

Speculation will now start focus on Strong's possible replacement. A group of big-money Texas donors has been focused on Houston's Tom Herman for almost a year, sources told HD. Late last week questions arose about if Fenves would consider Herman as a candidate at UT, sources said. Some sources wondered if that was a pre-emptive strike by Fenves to try to maintain control of the circumstances surrounding Strong's fate - which now seem obvious.

Strong went 6-7 in 2014 and 5-7 in 2015. The stunning loss in Lawrence Saturday dropped Texas to 5-6 and came against what had been the laughing stock of the conference. Kansas had lost 19 straight Big 12 games and had lost 13 straight to Texas. The last time KU beat the Longhorns was 1938. 

Asked if he knew what his team loss at Kansas, fueled by six UT turnovers, means for his future, Strong said, "No I don't."

Strong's three-year tenure at Texas has 10 losses of 18 points or more, including this season's 49-31 loss at Oklahoma State in which UT gave up 17 plays of 10 yards or more as well as three blocked extra points (one returned by OSU for two points). 

There have been questions about his ability to manage his staff after demoting a play-caller mid-season for the second straight year. Last year, it was offensive play-caller Shawn Watson one game into the 2015 season. This year, it was defensive play-caller Vance Bedford four games into the season.

But off the field, Strong's ability to build his program during his first 20 months at Texas was definitely affected by a lack of support from the athletic director who hired him - Steve Patterson, who regularly told Strong no when requests were made for everything from more money for quality control staff to ping-pong tables for the players' lounge.

Thanks to two, Top 10 recruiting classes landed by Strong, Texas had 120 starts this season by freshmen and sophomores before Saturday's game - most in FBS - and will return 37 of its 44 in the two-deep next year.

But Strong said before the season, "No more excuses. We've got the talent. We just need to coach it up."

A reporter asked Strong if he thought a win over TCU next Friday and berth in a bowl game would be enough to save his job, and Strong, who seemed in a state of disbelief during his post-game press conference, said: "I just see progress, and we just need to get ready for that (TCU) game and get our seniors to a bowl game."

Strong just seemed in a state of disbelief after the game.

"You're up 21-10 and driving to put it away and you turn it over (on a D'Onta Foreman fumble at the KU 13 with 3:53 left)," Strong said. "The game was over. It was there for us. There was no reason for us to not just go finish the game."

Players said they were aware of Strong's tenuous situation coming into the Kansas game but can't focus on the likely termination of their coach at season's end.

"As much as it gets brought up, you try not to focus on it, because Coach Strong doesn't want us to focus on it," said senior WR Jacorey Warrick.

Sophomore safety John Bonney said, "That decision isn't up to us. We just gotta keep fighting. I know everyone in that locker room loves Coach Strong and would do anything for Coach Strong. This game was going to test our will for him and going into our last game against TCU."

Sophomore safety DeShon Elliott said, "I love Coach Strong. That's my dog. But that's not our decision. That's for the AD and the men up there."

But we'll fight for Coach Strong next week (against TCU)." 

Warrick said Kansas "may have wanted it a little bit more than we did with the way they kept fighting even after falling behind 21-10."

Bonney said, "This one is going to sting for a long time. We at the University of Texas, we don't lose to Kansas. For it to happen today, it's really going to hurt. Coach Strong told us, 'If you're really up to the challenge, it's now or never next week.'"

Sophomore LT Connor Williams said, "It's sad. It's saddening to be where we are right now."



Get the best UT recruiting and team coverage for just $4.17 per month!

1. Select the "Annual Pass" option RIGHT HERE.

2. Enjoy HD’s attack-free message board community, where you are pulling up a bar stool among friends, and, of course, unparalleled insider information from Chip Brown, who has 25 years worth of connections covering Texas and is all over Big 12 realignment; Jason Higdon, the Yoda of Texas recruiting; and team and recruiting coverage from Taylor Estes!


Horns Digest Top Stories