As it looks like athletic director Steve Patterson’s days in Austin are coming to an end, we can’t help but wonder what that could mean for Longhorn head coach Charlie Strong. With Patterson out, how safe is Strong’s job?
We discussed the situation as news of Patterson’s firing unfolded.
Jake Anderson – His job is not at all safe. It does not appear at this time that his team is capable of generating the kind of run that could save his job.
Kyle Lang – Even Nick Saban isn’t going to ride in on a white horse and save them from the dumpster fire that was started under Mack Brown.
Plus there’s the financials to consider. Including paying out the remainder of Patterson’s contract, Texas will have committed to pay almost $20 million in buyouts over the last 18 months. If UT doesn’t fire Strong for cause they owe him the full amount of his remaining contract; roughly another $15 million. It’s hard for me to believe they’re going to commit to $35 million plus over a two-year period to buyouts.
Jake Anderson – that is simply the cost of doing business. Texas will be able to fundraise the cost of all those bad contracts with the good will that will result from Patterson’s firing.
Landon Wilson – The next four games for Texas are Cal, Oklahoma State, TCU and OU in order. They will be very lucky to go 1-3 in that run. Personally, I don’t see them winning any of those games. If that happens and Texas is 1-5, I would be shocked if he was still there.
Robert Whetsell – I agree with Jacob. They’ll likely do whatever because the boosters will support it.
Jake Anderson – Strong is a good coach. His track record is substantial. It just looks like this was a really bad fit in Austin. I look at it much like Rich Rodriguez in Michigan. Coach Rich Rod is a good coach, Michigan is a good program, things just never jived for whatever reason.
Chris Ross – I don’t see Texas firing Strong, but maybe I’m being naive. I didn’t see them firing Patterson either. …well, not right now anyway.
Kyle is right, unless Texas knows a guy that has 20 4-star and 5-star guys willing to come to Austin with him, there isn’t going to be a magic fix to turn things around on the gridiron. For better or worse they started this with Strong, they would be amiss if they didn’t at least give him the time to get it done. At least wait until he’s playing with his own guys. If he can get a few more like Malik Jefferson watch out, they could be back in two years. Fire him now though, and you start all over, and that wouldn’t be good for anyone.
I also have to wonder just how brave a new AD would be. Should Texas fire Strong and he find success elsewhere while the Longhorns still struggle, the next AD might not even make it 22 months. Let the Charlie Strong experiment play out a couple of years longer though, and he either starts winning and everything is roses in Austin, or things don’t go well and you have a move in your back pocket to buy yourself a couple more years at the helm.
The one thing Texas isn’t worried about though is buyout money. They make head and shoulders more than everyone else. Oregon beat them out this year as top earner, but that was on the back of a monster donation from Nike founder Phil Knight. Think about it, that’s what it takes to keep up with Texas. Finding donations to cover buyouts isn’t an issue. Especially when the boosters are leading the charge.
Kyle Lang – Charlie Strong is a good coach and if Longhorn boosters can swallow their pride for another year or so they’ll start to see the product that they expect on the field. If they decide to avoid the reality of the situation that existed when Charlie Strong took over then they’ll certainly want to fire him as quickly as possible. The shortest route back to relevance for Texas is sticking with Charlie Strong, look at the number of freshman and sophomores that are playing right now. If/when Strong is fired Texas will bring in someone who will change things up for the second time in three years.
Tracy Guest – I agree that the wise move would be to keep Strong and allow the Strong era to play out, as this situation has been developing for years. The problem is that the big boosters are furious with the product and many never wanted Strong to begin with. For those, this is a validation of their opinion and I am doubtful he makes it to next season.
Chris Ross – You’re right. Red McCombs was definitely not a fan of the hire. Still, if you’re a Longhorn fan, you would like to see cooler heads prevail here.
It shouldn’t take too long to find out either way. If Strong can make it through the next five games with his job, I would think he’d be safe for another year. Although with West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Baylor bookending the season, a collapse there might be all the reason the powers at be need to make a change. Especially if the Longhorns fall short of bowl eligibility.
Matt Turney – The more I think about it the more I believe he gets one more year excluding an absolute train wreck of a season (four wins or less). I think the Texas faithful, while demanding, are smart enough to know that just because you fire someone doesn’t mean you’ll end up with a better alternative. Although I’m the only one on the planet who thought they should’ve kept Brown so what do I know.
Robert Spradley – I can’t see Strong getting fired anytime soon for the sake of change. The one thing this entire program needs now is some stability. You can’t win games on the field if you can’t go into a recruit’s living room and sell him on the fact that you’ll be the head coach at a program for a while. Of course all of this changes if the Longhorns suffer a string of embarrassing, one-sided, defeats in which they look non-competitive.
Grant Thome – Short of just a horrible campaign by Strong I think he is safe for a year three. Most AD’s whom come in mid-stream through a football season do not make a change after only seeing (at the moment) 10 games and make a decision. I think most people would be willing to give someone one more year before pulling the plug. No matter how big the booster, it would take quite the lobbying in 10 weeks or less to convince the new AD (especially given no relationship to said booster and AD) to pull that trigger. And keep in mind that is all based off the premise that a new AD is in place next week. These searches take weeks, so all of the scenarios above are likely shortened to something like seven games/seven weeks left in conference play.
At this point we’ll kick it to you. Will Charlie Strong be in Austin next season, or should he brush up his resume? Let us know what you think in the comments, and be sure to vote below!