Bet you didn’t see this one coming: Texas has fired coach Charlie Strong.
Or maybe you did see it coming, given that the firing has been rumored for a week and speculated on for longer than that, given that Texas said it would evaluate Strong after the TCU game, which ended up a 31-9 Horned Frogs win, and given that Strong has coached the Longhorns to three straight seven-loss seasons.
Charlie Strong has been fired. Strong went 16-21 in 3 seasons as the Texas head coach.
— Longhorn Network (@LonghornNetwork) November 26, 2016
Texas AD Mike Perrin on Charlie Strong firing: “Body of work over 3 seasons has not shown improvement we were hoping for"
— Brett McMurphy (@McMurphyESPN) November 26, 2016
Here’s Strong’s statement on the firing:
Charlie Strong's statement on his firing. pic.twitter.com/UyHP8XqDMe
— FOX 4 Sports (@KDFWsports) November 26, 2016
So what comes next for Texas?
Well, probably Houston coach Tom Herman. Herman was the front-runner for the LSU job, but he reportedly turned down the Tigers’ advances, planning to instead take the Texas job. LSU went with Ed Orgeron, and Texas did its part by firing Strong on Saturday. Now the Longhorns will meet with Herman, whose hiring should be official before long.
Strong, who went 37-15 at Louisville and turned the Cardinals into an ACC power, never figured things out in Austin. After a 6-7 first season that ended with a bowl loss, his teams submitted back-t0-back 5-7 campaigns. This year, Texas beat Notre Dame to kick off the season, then lost four of its next six. The Longhorns upset Baylor and beat Texas Tech to improve to 5-4 but ended the year with three straight losses.
At a program with the brand name, fan base and resources of Texas, there’s not really an excuse for a seven-loss season, let alone three of them. Strong seems to command a lot of respect, from players, media and fans, but that wasn’t enough to win games. It will be interesting to see where he goes next, whether it’s a coordinator job in a prominent program or a head coaching gig at a smaller school. The success Strong had at Louisville shows he’s no chump, but Texas was apparently a poor fit.
We’ll soon see if Herman, who was offensive coordinator at Ohio State before taking over at Houston, will have better luck.