Tap the Breaks on Firing Charlie Strong

Multiple sources, and we mean multiple sources, are reporting that Charlie Strong is probably out at the end of 2016. His Horns fell to 2-2 with a loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Saturday. Compound that with news that Strong is demoting defensive coordinator Vance Bedford and taking over defensive play calling duties himself. 

Vance Bedford

Vance Bedford

As the din grows louder, Strong once again faces UT's nemesis from Oklahoma at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday. If the Horns beat the Sooners on Saturday you'll see how quickly all the noise dies down. After all, Texas fans will tell you that the OU game matters above all else; certainly more than Oklahoma State or Cal. 

Besides, at this point in the season Texas wasn't expected to be better than 3-1 according to even the most optimistic prognosticator, 2-2 seemed far more plausible. The Horns upset a then highly thought of Notre Dame team to create a seeming signature win. Only later did Notre Dame ruin that signature by letting Michigan State and Duke get signature wins as well. Cal on the other hand has done very little downgrade their win over Texas in Berkeley. The Golden Bears lost a close game at Arizona State and last week beat PAC 12 South contender and previously undefeated Utah.

Which brings us to Oklahoma State, a favorite against Texas in Stillwater that should've beaten undefeated Baylor a week before in Waco. Were it not for an untimed down that shouldn't have counted against Central Michigan, OSU is a one loss team. But college football fans often have, and brace yourself here, unrealistic expectations and demands. 

You want expectations? Try this, while the Longhorn defense has underperformed, Strong has delivered the offense. After two seasons of frustration, Strong has made changes, both in staff and personnel, that have yielded the explosive results fans have clamored for. As fans, we are too quick to discount the symbiotic relationship between all three phases of a football game. Texas has quickened its pace offensively which means the Horns will run more plays in a shorter period of time. It also means the Horns defense will see more plays, with less rest and adjustment time. The results are are interconnected. Ask Tech about playing defensive football. They've been loving the Air Raid's scoring but hating the defense's struggles for years now. 

Malik Jefferson

Malik Jefferson

The greatest argument for keeping Strong is this, UT's friends in College Station and Norman would love it if Texas fired Strong. Firing Strong would mean another period of instability and more importantly, Strong can't stockpile more talent. In 2016 Strong recruited a top seven class according to Rivals. That class included what looks to be the quarterback of the future and a bevy of young offensive and defensive linemen, a cornerstone of a top 10 program.

Rivals rated the 2015 class as the twelth best in college football. 2015's class included what is perceived to be the most important defensive recruit in the last 4-5 years, Malik Jefferson, two All-American lineman, a bell cow running back and an electric, world class sprinter at wideout. 

Recruiting in the Top 10-15 is another cornerstone of a winning program. Strong has done that. He's also made staff changes to help develop those players. Texas is a youthful team with a young two-deep roster than will, at some point, very soon, pay dividends. And that brings us to our last point, Texas' 2016 season is still way out in front of them. With a win over Oklahoma, which is not outside the realm of possibility, the Horns are set up for a favorable run. The Horns could be 5-2 entering a key game against Baylor in Austin. A Big 12 title isn't out of the question. Neither are eight wins or more. 

We love the snap judgment in college football. Small sample size conclusions. Texas loses to Oklahoma State and bang, it's time for a regime change. The same methodology that led many of us, this site included, to conclude that Texas was back post Notre Dame. It's best to let this play out a little longer before screaming "off with his head." Texas and Charlie might just surprise us. 

Posted on October 4, 2016 and filed under Southwest Round-Up.