Culpepper's Commentary: The Charlie Strong Way

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By Pat Culpepper, Inside Texas Special Contributor
Posted Jul 29, 2014
Copyright © 2018

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Pat Culpepper (Will Gallagher/Inside Texas)

Several years ago I asked a Texas coach, who was in charge of recruiting the Arlington area, why UT didn't pursue Arlington Martin HS's Devonte Fields. I found my answer years later with Charlie Strong.

**Pat Culpepper played for The University from 1960-62 and graduated from UT with a B.A. degree with honors in history. He coached college football for 12 years as an assistant at Texas, Colorado, Tulane, Baylor and Memphis State and was head coach at Northern Illinois from 1976-79. He also spent 16 years as a high school coach in Texas at Midland, Lufkin, Galveston Ball, Westfield and his hometown of Cleburne. He was selected to the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1991. His commentary appears regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at**

"How did we let this player get to TCU," I asked after he spearheaded a Horned Frog defense that beat Texas on Thanksgiving night two years ago.

The assistant said,"Devonte is trouble character wise and he won't ever finish at TCU."

TCU HC Gary Patterson and fans have found this statement to be true with Fields last embarrassment with the law. The Big 12 picked him as its preseason Defensive Player of the Year. Perhaps Patterson will go the "Charlie Strong Way."

For all the good Patterson has done with the Texas Christian University football program - enough to get them in the Big 12 - he is setting himself up for trouble if he can't manage these problems. I admire him as a defensive coach, but this isn't the first trouble he's had in Fort Worth.

Baylor's coach Art Briles allowed his players to act up and get unsportsmanlike penalties in the Fiesta Bowl without discipline or repercussion.

Believe me it can happen to anybody. That's why I'm so happy with the type of coach Texas AD Steve Patterson picked for the UT job. 

So who is Charlie Strong anyway?

In his first head coaching experience, Strong led Louisville to a 23-3 record the last two seasons but getting the Texas gig was a long, hard journey. 

Born in Batesville, Arkansas, a town of no more than 10,000, into a family of 13. No hot water in the house, Strong worked at a young age to help out his family. As he grew older, he pumped gas at his uncle's Phillips 66 station and brought a paycheck home to help out.

South Carolina coach Lou Holtz hired Strong as defensive coordinator in 1999. Strong worked his way up to being Urban Meyer's Florida DC, which included a pair of National Championships. He interviewed for head coaching jobs only to be turned down.

From a graduate assistant position at Texas A&M under caoch RC Slocum, to becoming the head coach at Texas was truly a remarkable journey. 
To his credit, Strong made it trough so much of life's BS without becoming a bitter, cynical person. Finally he landed the UL head coaching position.

Strong recruited and developed three 2013 NFL 1st round picks - Teddy Bridgewater, Calvin Pryor, and Marcus Smith. He did it the "Charlie Strong Way."

This man has a plan and is determined to make it work. I mean he gets up at 4am every morning, drives to Moncrief, and runs five miles a day!!!

"Strong's Way" isn't dancing around his problems like Patterson seems to do or losing his team like Briles seems to have. Strong's former players hated letting him down.

Thankfully David Ash has a chance to lead his Texas team. He's got Malcolm Brown, Johnathan Gray, and Duke Catalon to hand off to and Jaxon Shipley to move the chains. 

Strong's got a sturdy defensive line, eager linebackers, and a secondary with a chip on its shoulders. Strong is happy to be in Austin with the talent that is here. He'll make this a football team Longhorn fans will be proud of.

The players know who's in charge. They're buying into the "Charlie Strong Way."


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