The Charlie Strong Era begins in Austin on Saturday, as Texas hosts North Texas at 8 p.m. ET. Strong will be charged with revitalizing a national power that won 10+ games every year from 2001-2009 but is 30-21 in the four years since.
“We’ve been very pleased with the job Charlie and his staff have done,” Texas athletic director Steve Patterson said on The MoJo Show. “He’s, I think, really connected well with the student-athletes and with the campus and with the donors. We did the Charlie Strong Tour across Texas – 13 cities in 35 days. The crowds were enthusiastic. We’re excited about where we’re headed.”
Strong will replace Mack Brown, one of the most successful coaches in the history of college football. Still, Patterson has a good feeling about the 54-year-old Strong.
“It was interesting meeting with him,” Patterson said. “Usually when you go through these processes, you got an agent and you wind up meeting at a restaurant or a hotel suite or your office or someplace else. With Charlie, it was very direct, very much, ‘I don’t have an agent. Why don’t you come on out to the house? Let’s sit down and talk.’ And we actually met him at his home, sat across the kitchen table with his wife and his two daughters there and had a great conversation.”
“He’s really focused not just on football, where he’s had a lot of success, but his commitment to graduating his student-athletes and building successful young men who can go on from the University of Texas and have great outcomes in their lives, I think, was very great to hear – and he’s followed through on that commitment once he got there.”
Texas will need to be locked and loaded right out of the chute. After tune-ups against North Texas and BYU, the Longhorns host No. 7 UCLA on Sept. 13 and also face No. 10 Baylor on Oct. 4 and No. 4 Oklahoma on Oct. 11.
And everyone will be watching. When Strong was unveiled as Texas’ coach, there were 26 television cameras at the press conference.
“That’s the most I’d seen since the Super Bowl,” Patterson said. “We really are the national team of Texas. There’s a tremendous amount of media attention.”
After the Red River Rivalry, Texas plays just one ranked team – No. 20 Kansas State – in its last six games.
In other news, Patterson addressed the Ed O’Bannon case and how much it will affect Texas.
“Well, I think we’ve been a proponent of full cost of attendance for some time; from that standpoint, we welcome that part of the case,” Patterson said. “I think the part that’s going to be interesting to administer is the likeness, image and name part of it, particularly as you try to look across all the 500 student-athletes that we have at the University of Texas.”
“In the long run, I think it’s going to be tough for some of the schools out there. I think we’ll be in good shape, but I think for a lot of schools they’re going to have to make decisions about how many sports they’re going to carry and how many scholarships they’re going to offer. The cost is going to go up, and it’s probably not going to be supported by an increase in revenue. Your only other alternative, then, is to really cut costs – and I think that would be unfortunate for college athletics and for college attendance as a whole.”