From the time Strong was hired he felt the pressure to win. Upon his arrival at Texas there was a vocal outpouring by those who felt he wasn’t the right man for the job. There was also obvious racial tension. Though he recruited well, the conflict among supporters affected his ability to do the job. During his brief time as coach he reassigned and replaced assistant coaches to satisfy the naysayers while at the same time focusing on building a program the right way. He was in a hurry to return Texas to its former stature and that alone was much of his undoing. He was building a program, but because of the tension and the lack of key wins, he was separated from the job.
After he was fired, Coach Strong was quoted as saying that as a black coach he let a lot of people down. In his eyes, he had one of the best coaching jobs in the country and he failed to maintain it. Truth is, he didn’t let anyone down. If anything, the folks in Texas are learning that there is no shortcut to getting to the top and staying there.
You can’t just build a program with a few name sake players, or on the back of a name sake coach. You must put all the right things in place and maintain a system that players and supporters can buy into. That will keep ‘em coming. On the way to building a program, in FAMU’s case almost from scratch and with few resources, it is painful and often frustrating. The real victories are the small things that are acknowledged behind closed doors. You and I won’t hear about them.
People are wanting to say, “the Rattlers are Back.” Most of those people are getting old. The newer generation does not know anything about the Rattlers ever being at the top; not in this Century. That kind of success since the Jake Gaither era has been spotty and brief.
Why am I even having this conversation? I had not planned to write anything this year. I determined that things had become too political and even I had gotten too caught up in it. But people keep asking me to share my thoughts. So here I am.
As Rattler supporters, we are sometime our worst enemies. We analyze every decision that’s made public and second guess the coaching. I could tell the coaches a few things about opening the offense myself, but they seem set on efficiency, teaching the players discipline and how to play the game. They are looking at it long term and my thoughts should not short circuit their long-term gains.
When you are not winning it is easy to question everything! Was it a good decision to play the game in Tampa? Well, my ticket for a home game is $30. In Tampa, I was willing to pay the $62 dollars to attend the classic and see old friends. Oh, the FAMU and TSU bands were entertaining too. According to reports FAMU needed 10,000 fans in attendance to break even. There was well over 17,000 fans in attendance at a time when many locals were unable to attend the game thanks to Hurricane Irma. So yes, we won’t get rich on this game, but financially we probably won’t do any worse than a home game; and having a game in cities like Tampa and Atlanta will certainly help recruiting.
Since Charlie Strong has left Texas they have lost their first two games under their new coach. The new coach made excuses for not winning and appears ready today to replace a very talented and capable freshman quarterback with someone else at the start of today’s game. Though they are losing, the Longhorns are looking promising. With patience and consistency, I believe they will turn the corner. After all, the offense is scoring. It’s the defense that needs improvement. However, if the coach makes decisions on the field that are not beneficial to a long-term gain just to allay the concerns of alumni and fans, then the next generation of Texas Longhorns won’t know anything about being at the top either.