Charlie Strong addressed his future as the head coach of Texas at a news conference on Monday, saying he’s turned his focus to the Longhorns’ final regular-season game against TCU on Friday with the hope of getting his seniors to a bowl game. Strong also vehemently denied any possibility of a boycott by his players.
Strong spoke to Texas athletics director Mike Perrin on Sunday and reinforced what the AD said in a statement — that he’ll be evaluated after the end of the regular season. “We’ll discuss where things stand after that,” Perrin said in the statement.
Still, there’s no hiding that Strong’s dismissal appears imminent after suffering embarrassing 24-21 overtime loss to bottom-feeder Kansas last Saturday in which the Longhorns blew an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter. It was the Jayhawks’ first victory against Texas since 1938.
“I know the wins and losses don’t stack up,” Strong said.
Strong expressed frustration with reports saying he’d been fired filtering to his players and said he’s done his best to refocus them on Friday’s game.
“When they’re playing the way they’re playing, they’re playing not to lose, they feel like they’re playing for the coaching staff,” Strong said. “I told them (for Friday) to loosen up and have fun. You owe it to yourself.”
Strong also addressed rumors that members of the team would boycott Friday’s game, saying: “They won’t boycott this game. That’s not going to happen.”
Several players have come to Strong’s defense on social media, pointing out his impact off the field stretches further than wins and losses. The Austin American-Statesman reported that some team members were considering a boycott.
Strong has gone 16-20 (12-14 Big 12) in three seasons with the Longhorns, including a 5-6 stance in 2016 that has the program now fighting for a berth in a bowl game. In the Big 12 news conference Monday, Strong said it was “critical” to get the Texas seniors to a bowl game.
“I know how important wins and losses are,” Strong said. “Also, there’s the overall development of a young man. …Young people today, if you look at society, there’s no discipline. For young people, it’s my job when they leave a program to understand who they are, what their image is about and what platform they have. …They’re counting on you. Some of these young kids have never had direction, never had a father figure.”
If he’s fired after the TCU game, Strong will be owed a $10.7 million buyout for the remaining two years on his contract, a fee that would be reduced if he takes another job.