With spring practice in the books, first-year Texas coach Charlie Strong has begun a publicity tour to meet with Longhorns fans face-to-face. It did not take long -- the first stop on the bus tour -- for Strong's no-nonsense approach to created a stir, as he shared some realistic expectations with a group in Fort Worth.
"We have everything available, and I don't know why we can't be successful," Strong said via the Austin American-Statesman. "There's no reason for us not to be. Now, I can't tell you how soon it's going to be. Don't hold me to that. Don't say, 'Ooh, coach said next year we'll be in the national ...' We will not be in the national championship game."
Such a comment would not have been expected from Strong's predecessor, Mack Brown. The Statesman noted that Strong might have realized what he said to the group immediately and followed the comment with some nervous laughter. But there were others in attendance who believe that the change in attitude can be good for rebooting a program that has just two Big 12 titles in the last decade.
"He's not going to go around kissing babies,” former UT coach David McWilliams said. “And that's good. I know when coach (Darrell) Royal came in, all those guys after the first meeting said, ‘Things are going to change around here.' And you're seeing the same thing.”
You could see people nodding in agreement when Strong talked about the culture within the program, which hasn't won a Big 12 title since 2009.
"A lot of our guys, they feel entitled and they get a little complacent because of where we are,” Strong told the crowd. “So then as a coaching staff, that's what we have to be so conscious of when the guys feel they are a little better than what they are. It's all about building their confidence, and I tell them each and every day. You are a good football player. Don't let anyone tell you that you're not."
Mack Brown stepped down from his position as head coach of the football program following an 8-5 season in 2013. Strong started feeling the extra heat that comes with the UT job almost immediately, thanks to some comments from mega-booster Red McCombs, but he will ultimately be judged by the product on the field.
Texas is still looking for a solid answer at the quarterback position, but a strong running game and defensive line should put them in position to contend for the Big 12 title again in 2014.