Don’t mess with Texas? How about don’t mess with Charlie Strong?
The Longhorns’ new head coach has suspended or dismissed numerous players in recent weeks, and he might not be finished.
“It’s just been a massive culture change under Charlie Strong, who came in and was going to do it his way,” HornsDigest.com writer Chip Brown said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “He said it at his opening-day press conference. At first, it was little things – like getting rid of the Gatorade, juice bar, smoothy stands (and) protein bars. All throughout the locker room, (he had) the TVs (taken) out. (He) told the players they couldn’t throw up their horns until they’d earned it.”
So far, not so good.
Wide receivers Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander have been suspended after being charged with sexual assault, while running backs Jalen Overstreet and Joe Bergeron and defensive back Chevoski Collins have been dismissed for a violation of team rules.
More players could be sent packing as well.
“I’m told that there was a random drug test that was administered to the football team recently and that some of this is the result of that,” Brown said. “At this point, (Sanders and Meander) have been suspended indefinitely after being charged with rape, (and) I’m told two more players are under review for possible team violations.”
Unfortunately, the players have no one to blame but themselves.
“Charlie Strong has five core values that he says he’s not going to waver on,” Brown said, “and all of these players who have been dismissed have been talked to about their attitude having to change, their behavior having to change – dating back to February. So none of this should come as a surprise to these players.”
Still, many fans and boosters don’t care about their players’ actions away from the field. They just want wins.
Does Strong still have the unwavering support of Texas brass?
“There’s no question he has the support of his athletic director, Steve Patterson,” Brown said. “The question, though, is how much support does Steve Patterson have? The (university) president will step down next June, and Steve Patterson went about the hiring of Charlie Strong really outside the circle of influence. It’s a very tenuous time.”
Enter Admiral William McRaven, 58, a top candidate to become UT’s next Chancellor. McCraven, a former Texas track star, organized and executed the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.
“That may be the kind of leadership Texas needs to cut through all the political rhetoric that has sort of filled this campus for the last three years,” Brown said.
But what about the product on the field? Texas has gone 30-21 over the last four years, including 8-5 a season ago. Will the Longhorns be competitive in 2014?
Given the number of suspended or dismissed players, probably not.
“They’re going to have to be really, really scrappy, and they’re going to have to (avoid injuries),” Brown said. “They’re going to be thin. They’ve got some good front-line starters on defense, but they can’t afford an injury on the defensive line or the offensive line.”