With a 16-21 record in three seasons at Texas and coming off two disastrous losses to close the 2016 season, Charlie Strong has been fired as coach of the Longhorns.
Strong, who was hired by Texas after going 23-3 in his final two seasons at Louisville including a Sugar Bowl win over Florida, was never able to turn things around at Texas. Strong lost a bowl game in his first season, failed to qualify for the postseason in 2015 and was 5-7 in his final season.
"It's a very difficult day for me, my family and all of the people affected by this decision. I'm most disappointed for these kids and our staff who have poured so much of their lives into this program for the last three years," Strong said in a statement released by the school. "I do understand that it comes down to wins and losses, and we have not done our job in that area yet. I accept full responsibility for that, but know in my heart that we accomplished our primary goal, which is the development of young men. We have had a positive impact on our campus and the community, and I'm proud of how our team is focused on earning their degrees.
"We were developing something really special. This program has a championship foundation built on great young men with tremendous character. There are very bright days ahead, and I'll be pulling for these kids no matter where I am. I want to thank everyone who supported me and this program for the last three years. I don't regret coming to Texas. I learned a great deal and grew as a person in my time here. I'll miss the opportunity to lead this program going forward, but I'm ready to accept my next challenge."
Texas fell 24-21 to Kansas in overtime last week, the Longhorns' first loss to the Jayhawks since 1938. At the time, Kansas had not won a Big 12 game since 2014 and was 1-20 under coach Dave Beaty. On Friday, despite knowing it may be Strong's last game, Texas was routed 31-9 by previously 5-5 TCU.
In all, Strong's career might be remembered for big wins and devastating losses. As Zach Barnett of Football Scoop pointed out, Strong was 4-2 against Baylor, Notre Dame and Oklahoma ... and 6-12 against all other opponents. Strong never won more than three straight games in any season.
The Texas administration maintained throughout the year that it would wait until the end of the season to decide on Strong's future. With Houston coach Tom Herman lurking as the reported top target for the Longhorns job, Texas has finally acted in removing the face of its program.
"Decisions like this are tough to make. The responsibility is not taken lightly," said athletic director Mike Perrin. "I became friends with Charlie Strong before becoming Athletics Director. I have the utmost personal respect for him. His impact on college athletics and student-athletes should be celebrated. Coach Strong represented The University of Texas with class and dignity, and he demanded our student-athletes do the same by adhering to his system of core values.
"However, after thorough evaluation, the body of work over three seasons has not shown the improvement we were hoping for. This was an important year for our program to take the next step, and the results simply aren't there, so we've decided to make a change. We appreciate Coach Strong so much, are grateful for all he has done with our program and wish him the best in the future."
Texas president Gregory Fenves offered a similar sentiment.
"Charlie Strong is an outstanding leader and role model who worked hard and with great integrity to move Longhorn football in the right direction. He has been committed to helping our student-athletes succeed both on and off the field. I share the pride, admiration and respect that many in Longhorn nation and beyond feel for him," he said.
"In the end, the results over three seasons were not there. It was not clear the future was going to be at the levels expected of Longhorn football. ... I am grateful for the contributions Charlie Strong made to our athletics program and the community. I wish Charlie, Vicki and their family only the best moving forward. I will forever consider them friends of the university."
Strong's buyout sits at over $11 million.