The top button was what caught my eye.
In the sweltering Hill County summer, with temperatures in the triple digits and percent humidity not far behind, who buttons the top button of their shirt?
Forrest Gump? Some nerd with thick glasses, a half-unzipped fly and a pocket protector? The Sherlock Holmes character from “Elementary”? A soulless, annoying Austin hipster doofus?
Well … Charlie Strong does. I have never seen coach Strong without the top button of his shirt buttoned. I mean, I’ve seen him wear ties and lots of turtlenecks, but, even with a sweater vest, long sleeves or short sleeves, winter, spring or summer, any time he wears a shirt with buttons, the top button remains buttoned.
The real question is: Why? Nobody else does it. Do you, Inside Texas subscribers, button your top shirt button in non-tie situations? I certainly don’t. What is Strong trying to prove? What is he trying to communicate? Why on earth would somebody always button the top button?
Fashion? Please. Does Strong look like he belongs on “Project Runway”? Although … Heidi Klum does have a thing for gentlemen of color.
Hmmm. Let’s just say the Charlie Strong is no fashionista and leave it at that.
Let’s see. Why else would someone button their top button? Modesty? Maybe Coach Strong is being overly modest in the way he dresses. Maybe that top button is his version of a burka.
Sorry. That explanation doesn’t work, either. Women have no reaction to Strong’s broad shoulders, biceps thicker than my neck, sleek, shaved head and trim waist but have to take a cold shower because they see an inch of skin at his neckline?
Like Ben Affleck playing Batman, I’m not buying.
An affectation? Just trying to be different? Doesn’t seem likely. People who are trying to get attention frequently change what they do as soon as others quit noticing. You can Google pictures of Strong from his Florida days, and he dresses exactly the same then as now.
So what’s going on? Why would somebody doggedly button their top button, casing aside common sense, climate and societal norms?
Because in Charlie Strong’s mind, that’s the right way to do it. I have no idea why, but years ago somebody convinced Strong the correct way to dress was to button all the buttons of a shirt.
And that was it. Somebody gave Charlie a reason that made sense to him, and, from then on, the top button is always buttoned. It doesn’t matter that fashion trends come and go; it doesn’t make a whit of difference that the way coaches dress on the sidelines has evolved light years (and not for the better) since Tom Landry’s fedora and Bear Bryant’s houndstooth hat. Charlie Strong always buttons his top button.
The reason doesn’t have to make sense to you, and you don’t have to agree. Strong is not evangelistic about it; he’s not trying to get the rest of the world tochange the way they dress. Strong won’t judge those showing a tiny bit of chest hair. He’s just doing it because, to him, it’s the right way to do it, and things always go easier if you do them the right way.
Over the past few months, a great deal has been written about the “change of culture” in the Longhorn football program. Most of what has been written is speculative poppycock, viewed from the outside looking in through the filter of the last four years of Mack Brown’s tenure. “There’s a new sheriff in town!” “Moorer is a drill sergeant!” “What these kids need is some real discipline!” “No more country club atmosphere!”
Honestly, I think Strong’s coaching style has less to do with being a red-ass, control freak, gung-ho disciplinarian than it does simply doing things the right way. In Strong’s mind, there’s the right way to do things, and then there’s everything else.
One of the team’s core values is treating women with respect. A real man never raises his hand to a woman. Never. You can’t come up with a scenario where’s it’s OK to hit a woman. If she comes at you screaming and hysterical with a frying pan and a Bobbit knife – hey, you’re a D-1 college football player – use your physical strength and speed to get away from the situation as fast as possible.
But never lower yourself to hitting a woman. Respecting women is just the right thing to do, and things always go easier if you do them the right way. Just ask Kendall Sanders and Montrel Meander.
In Strong’s thinking, there’s a right way and a wrong way to do things. If you do things the right way, you win football games. If you win football games, blue chip players want to be a part of your program. If blue chip players come and they do things the right way, the very least you’ll win are conference championships.
Of course, there’s only one Aggie in the punchbowl: Is Charlie Strong’s way the right way? If our kids do things Strong’s way, will they win football games? Obviously, that remains to be seen.
We’ll find out soon enough, because the first half of the Horns’ season this year is absolutely brutal. Just like the weather forecast for the North Texas game, with the temperature at kickoff predicted to be 94° and high humidity.
Perfect top button weather. Absolutely perfect.
A 1986 graduate of the University of Texas, Jeff Conner has held many jobs in his life: husband, brother, uncle, son, oil field roustabout, short-order cook, sandblaster, irrigation pipe mover, musician, retail assistant manager, attorney-at-law, public school teacher, preacher, cartoonist and writer. While he does have a hot, young wife, Conner is neither as clever nor as good-looking as he believes himself to be. Jeff is currently teaching 8th grade math and Pre-A.P. algebra in Taylor, Texas, home of the Fighting Ducks. Conner’s regularly submitted commentary appears in InsideTexas.com and Inside Texas Magazine. The opinions presented do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inside Texas editorial staff.