As a dead coach walking, it was painful to watch Charlie Strong‘s final weeks at Texas. Saturday morning, the university mercifully put the carcass out of its misery.
Texas officially did the expected a short time ago, announcing via a press release that Strong has been relieved of his head coaching duties, effective immediately. “[A]fter thorough evaluation, the body of work over three seasons has not shown the improvement we were hoping for,” a portion of a statement from athletic director Mike Perrin read.
Strong will be owed an $11.2 million buyout from UT.
“Decisions like this are tough to make,” the AD’s statement began. “The responsibility is not taken lightly. I became friends with Charlie Strong before becoming Athletics Director. I have the utmost personal respect for him. His impact on college athletics and student-athletes should be celebrated. Coach Strong represented The University of Texas with class and dignity, and he demanded our student-athletes do the same by adhering to his system of core values.
“However, after thorough evaluation, the body of work over three seasons has not shown the improvement we were hoping for. This was an important year for our program to take the next step, and the results simply aren’t there, so we’ve decided to make a change. We appreciate Coach Strong so much, are grateful for all he has done with our program and wish him the best in the future.”
In three seasons, with the Longhorns, Strong went 16-21 overall and 12-15 in Big 12 play.
After a 6-7 mark his first year, Strong went 5-7 in back-to-back seasons. Those 16 wins are the fewest in a three-year stretch since David McWilliams hit the same number in his first three seasons from 1987-89. McWilliams ended up getting two more seasons at the helm, although patience isn’t what it was three decades ago.
This will also be the first time since a three-year stretch from 1991-93 that the ‘Horns have failed to go bowling in two or more consecutive seasons, yet another data point that trended toward a dismissal.
The true lowpoint under Strong, and what likely proved to be the proverbial final nail in his coaching coffin, though, was the loss to Kansas last Saturday, the first to the Jayhawks since the 1938 season. That was simply a loss from which Strong couldn’t recover, regardless of Friday’s outcome.
“It’s a very difficult day for me, my family and all of the people affected by this decision,” said Strong in a statement. “I’m most disappointed for these kids and our staff who have poured so much of their lives into this program for the last three years. I do understand that it comes down to wins and losses, and we have not done our job in that area yet. I accept full responsibility for that, but know in my heart that we accomplished our primary goal, which is the development of young men. We have had a positive impact on our campus and the community, and I’m proud of how our team is focused on earning their degrees. We were developing something really special. This program has a championship foundation built on great young men with tremendous character. There are very bright days ahead, and I’ll be pulling for these kids no matter where I am. I want to thank everyone who supported me and this program for the last three years. I don’t regret coming to Texas. I learned a great deal and grew as a person in my time here. I’ll miss the opportunity to lead this program going forward, but I’m ready to accept my next challenge.”
With Strong officially out, the focus will turn to Tom Herman, the Houston head coach who has long been as UT’s top choice to replace Herman.