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Charlie Strong Fired After Three Losing Seasons at UT

charlie_strong_near-firing_nov_2016.jpg
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez
/
KUT
Charlie Strong at a press conference after the Longhorns loss to Kansas.

The University of Texas at Austin announced this morning that head football coach Charlie Strong has been fired. Strong had a few signature wins while at the school, but was not able to put together a winning season. Strong posted a 16-21 record at UT, the longest stretch of losing seasons at the university since 1935 to 1938.

The school is expected to move quickly to find Strong's replacement. As always, the moments immediately after a coach is fired are filled with rumors and speculation of who will be the next coach. For now that speculation is focused on University of Houston coach Tom Herman, who is also reportedly fielding an offer to take the helm at Louisiana State University.

Herman worked as a graduate assistant at UT Austin early in a coaching career that included stops as offensive coordinator at Texas State, Rice and Ohio State. The University of Houston is his first head coaching job. In 2 seasons he lead the Cougars to a 22-4 record and a Peach Bowl victory over Florida State.

In a statement today, UT Men's Athletics Director Mike Perrin said Strong didn't show the improvement the university was hoping for in his three-year stint with the Longhorns.

Decisions like this are tough to make. 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 a statement, Strong praised his players' character, and said that he accepted responsibility for the Longhorns' losing records during his tenure: 

It’s a very difficult day for me, my family and all of the people affected by this decision. 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.

UT Austin President Gregory Fenves said the decision to fire Strong was predicated on his results as a coach, but that he left an indelible impact on players on and off the field:

Strong is an outstanding leader and role model who worked hard and with great integrity to move Longhorn football in the right direction. He has been committed to helping our student-athletes succeed both on and off the field. I share the pride, admiration and respect that many in Longhorn nation and beyond feel for him. In the end, the results over three seasons were not there. It was not clear the future was going to be at the levels expected of Longhorn football. I congratulate our players, who showed great heart and resilience this season, with many outstanding performances. Elite student-athletes come to UT expecting to compete at the highest levels and succeed academically. The university will continue to pursue those goals and prepare them for life after college. I am grateful for the contributions Charlie Strong made to our athletics program and the community. I wish Charlie, Vicki and their family only the best moving forward. I will forever consider them friends of the university.

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