A Strong Silly Season, No Doubt
November 25, 2016 by Jean Neuberger • Print Story •
The coaching carousel has likely picked up its biggest horse over the weekend.
Charlie Strong is well-liked and respected. Opposing coaches like him. His players love him. He does his best to run a clean program and doesn't embarrass the school off the field.
But facts are facts. Texas hasn't lost to Kansas since 1938. Last Saturday, the Jayhawks prevailed. And there was no doubt about it: the better team won.
Strong has only presided in Austin for three seasons and there's no doubt that Mack Brown left large holes in the cupboard for him to fix, especially at quarterback. However, Texas has a massive financial base, great facilities, a local recruiting base and its own television network. The natives want success immediately. And, with Baylor's rise (before the scandal hit) and Houston's quick ascension under Tom Herman, Strong was testing the patience of the Longhorn fan base time and again.
Then came Kansas. Boom goes the dynamite.
Strong will bounce back. Personally, I think he should take a year or two and go back to being a defensive coordinator, then emerge recharged as a head coach again. He's an Arkansas native, so heading back there wouldn't hurt. If it was borderline erotic for Bret Bielema to beat Strong, how does having him on his staff feel?
We know Texas will make a huge run at Herman. So will LSU. And Herman will have to decide which, if either, of two programs in very awkward situations he wants to accept. We know that Les Miles wants back into coaching (and he'd likely be a good fit for Purdue) and if anyone hasn't noticed, these programs should make a huge run at Colorado's Mike MacIntyre, who has engineered a football renaissance in Boulder after years of darkness. He should be college football's Coach of the Year easily.
If schools open up, I think Larry Fedora at North Carolina should be a welcome target. I think that you'd have to take a look at an offensive hand like Oklahoma offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. And watch Mississippi State's Dan Mullen in the coaching searches. Mullen wanted out of Starkville last season, knowing the well would be significantly drier post-Dak Prescott. He might be trying to make a northern move, as well.
And, of course, you've got to pay attention to what P.J. Fleck has done. He's young, he's full of energy, and he's made Western Michigan into a completely relevant program, one that even landed College GameDay in Kalamazoo. Fleck could get any mid-major job he wants, but he's also going to have some pretty good Power Five programs knocking at his door, and he'll have to decide which one he wants.
It's a lot of confusion and mass chaos for now. But one thing is for sure. Texas is going to give Charlie Strong the pink slip. With it, the largest domino falls and the coaching carousel will be in a swing that we likely haven't seen in several years.