The Change Game

Charlie Strong at the Spring Game. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Charlie Strong at the Spring Game. (Will Gallagher/IT)

UT’s season hangs in the balance. Never a better chance to get Inside Texas premium for free for next 16 days!!!

Changes for the Texas Football team, pretty obviously, need to be made….

Primarily, changes in tackling. As in, the Texas defense needs to change from not tackling to, umm, tackling. Changes in defensive personnel. Changes in third down, get-the-offense-off-the-field performance. Big-time changes to prevent the opposing offenses from gaining yardage by the mile.

Changes in the suddenly difficult realm of extra-point kicking. Maybe changes in the defensive coaching staff. Heck, changes in the position of athletics director: either hire Mike Perrin as the permanent AD, or hire someone else and make the position strong, no pun intended. You’re doing your head football coach no favors with the current AD set-up. The question of “Who’s in charge here?” needs to be, once and for all, answered.

And after all of those changes are made, hopefully the UT brass will not make what some say should be the most necessary change of all: head coach.

Charlie Strong must – must – stay. Yes, this plea is subject to, well, change. But as of now – and through the remainder of the season – Strong needs to stay.

He needs to stay because his offense appears to have been “fixed” on his watch, though it took longer than most wanted; thank you, Shane Buechele and Sterlin Gilbert. The Longhorns have a quarterback and an offensive coordinator. The Longhorns have running backs. The Longhorns have an offensive line, and take-the-top-off-the-defense receivers. Blowing up the team by canning the head coach would likely stunt this growth and alienate many of the players who are most responsible for the offensive turnaround.

He needs to stay because, if you fired every coach for having a team without defense, then you’d be getting rid of every coach in the Big 12. Remember when Mack Brown told you a few years ago that tackling isn’t as good as it used to be? Like it or not, admit it or not, he was right. College football defense is weak overall; you can look it up.

He needs to stay because you’d want your son to play for him. Rarely do Texas fans read about something bad happening at 3 a.m. (not never, but rarely). This is not always the case in the world of college football. Good men need to be appreciated.

He needs to stay because if he doesn’t, who will arrive to save the day? Is Tom Herman better suited to “fix” a defense? Of course not. Nick Saban’s wife is not looking for a house on Lake Austin. Urban Meyer is at home; Jim Harbaugh is at home. Knute Rockne and Bear Bryant are dead.

He needs to stay because Texas needs him to succeed, for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most important reason is that when Strong wins, maybe it will cause the anonymous source/boosters to thus spend more time in the suites and less time on the phone with UT brass and members of the Austin media who think good journalism is a tweet that takes up the full 140 characters.

Saban would sooner cancel a football practice than come to Austin and deal with the “all other things as required ” aspects of the Texas job. One of the first things Saban did when he arrived at Alabama was tell his AD to deal with the boosters and keep them off the practice field and out of his in-box.

Malik Jefferson. (Will Gallagher/IT)

Malik Jefferson. (Will Gallagher/IT)

But instead of ensuring a proper distance between boosters and coaches – and letting coaches coach – at Texas, booster participation seems to be encouraged. Weak “journalists” who are more eager to tweet than research have boosters on speed dial, and start calling them at halftime. “Anonymous sources” who wouldn’t know a blitz from a gin and tonic are all too happy to toss in their two cents. Anonymously, of course.

Yes, the Texas job is special: facilities, money, fertile recruiting ground, passionate fan base. Money. A lot of money. But the lack of patience here is turning the working atmosphere for the head coach into a joke. Charlie Strong is an outstanding recruiter, his players love him, he represents the university well and he knows football.

Of course change is necessary from the product seen in California and Oklahoma, but “We’re Texas” will soon become more mocked than admired if the UT powers that be – whoever they are – do not stay Strong.