The seat keeps getting hotter at Texas for Charlie Strong. According to some reports, he will not last beyond the season.
The repercussions of that will resonate everywhere. With LSU having already moved on from Les Miles and USC likely regretting the Clay Helton experience, three of the top jobs in America could be open at season’s end. (Insert obligatory Tom Herman rumors here).
As good as these jobs are, the current landscape at all three is a concern. There is instability among boosters and management at all three in differing ways. A great coach can fix all that, but if Herman decides to wait for another job or turns them down, do you trust any of these leaders to make the right call? USC just messed up a year ago. There is a new AD at Texas. And who knows what will happen with LSU if the Tigers don’t get their top choice. And rest assured, if Herman is everyone’s top choice, at least two schools are going to be on plan B.
As for Strong, there is still time to turn the season around. A win over OU would silence the critics, at least for a week. And Texas has enough talent to compete in the Big 12. But the talent — especially on defense — has not developed. The coaching details under Strong are lacking, especially on defense and special teams. And while Strong did a total reboot and established a more stable program from a discipline standpoint, the bottom line is you can’t have losing seasons at Texas. I like Strong a lot, but the results have not been there. Barring a massive turnaround, it looks like Texas will — and should — move on.
And in truth, as it is with LSU, it is way too early to speculate on possible replacements. Once you open that trap door, then you wind up down a rabbit hole of rumors and lies fueled by agents looking for better deals for their coaches.
Let’s play that game for a minute and see where it takes us.
For Texas, it’s easy to say Herman, but who knows what other jobs will be open? What if Urban Meyer decides to resign again? Even without that, you now are competing with other top 10 jobs. So it’s no lock to get him. And there’s always the chance he stays another year and waits for a different opportunity. Chip Kelly might be the other hot name, but what if Oregon opens back up? He might wish to return there. You never know what motivates these guys and where they want to go. Would anyone have ever thought Gary Patterson would be a TCU lifer? Oh, let us not forget Patterson, whose name will come up in all of these as well.
Let’s keep going down the rumor hole, because now there is the secondary market.
As these dominoes fall, there will be other good jobs open, and these fired coaches will get new gigs. Miles will get another job. Strong will get another job. If Gus Malzahn is whacked by Auburn, he will get hired somewhere. But then that opens up another quality job, too. Other coaches already having success — Bobby Petrino, for instance — will come up as candidates for bigger jobs. If that happened, would Louisville bring Strong back? Pursue Miles or Malzahn? Did we mention Baylor will likely be open? Will someone be stupid enough to hire Art Briles?
That’s why speculation now is just that. Maybe all of this happens. Maybe Strong wins out. Maybe Petrino stays put. And then maybe none of this happens.
But that’s where you wind up when you go down that road. A sea of pointless speculation that will not play out until the season is over. But if you are a major school that is already out of the playoff chase, that is what you do. Speculate.
So much of success at a school for a coach comes down to fit. Does the coach fit the culture? Can he deal with the alumni and get the kind of players he needs? And can he coach them up? Convince the school to pay big money for assistants? There are very few guys out there who can win anywhere. Saban, Urban Meyer, Jim Harbaugh come to mind. Even Chip Kelly only won in Oregon. Could he win elsewhere? His two NFL experiences would certainly indicate that is no lock. Many high profile guys have failed when they move out of their original fiefdoms. It is highly possible that Strong was the perfect guy at Louisville, and it was never going to translate to Texas.
Maybe Strong is just a good coach who was never a good fit.
That’s an awful lot of maybes. But that is what happens at this time of year when you fail to meet expectations. Strong has not met them. And the rabbit hole of speculation, rumors and flat out lies can now begin.
Norse gods?: Minnesota thumped the Giants last night 24-10, and continue to look like a serious contender in the NFC. That is not good news for the Texans, who visit Minnesota on Sunday. The Vikings defense is tough on all three levels. The Texans will have to play by far their best game of the season to be competitive.
Big change across the dial: Longtime radio host Charlie Pallilo is out at 790. Josh Innes returns from Philadelphia. He is a talented dude and I love competition, so…Still, it would be nice if occasionally the Chron recognized that there is a third station in town, and one that has been competing with 610 and beating 790 for years now. But hey, at least they did not refer to us as “local programming” this time. At least this guy recognizes us.
We also found out with the departure of Pallilo, the Blitz is the longest-running sports show in Houston now. Not sure if that is bad or good, but it has been an interesting run.
Early lines: I love New England -10.5 this week. The Tom Brady revenge tour starts now and the Browns are squarely in the cross hairs. I rarely fade double digits in the NFL but will be shocked if the Patriots don’t cruise…also looking at Tennessee plus 7 at A&M. The Aggies should win, but that line seems high. Will know more later in the week.
And Florida: With all these clowns running around, maybe “punching the clown” is no longer a viable euphemism. Maybe “take a selfie with the baby gator?” Well that’s too long, but it was inspired by this story.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
(In honor of the coaching carousel)
“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be.”
— Isaac Asimov