Texas Coach Charlie Strong Creating Winning Attitude
By Steve Pipps
Spring football practice began on March 18 for the Texas Longhorns, and the public is finally getting a glimpse of new head coach Charlie Strong's leadership style.
It's been a busy two months for Strong. He had to bring in his own recruits, assemble a coaching staff and settle into his new role, all while implementing a tougher coaching style to what has been called a “soft” Texas team.
Strong has much work to do to make Texas a contender in 2014. But former head coach Mack Brown left him with ample weapons. Strong inherited a squad that did not lose a single player to the NFL draft and also displayed little resistance to the coaching change.
During the last three seasons under Brown, Texas' recruiting classes ranked 24th, second and third, according to Rivals.com. However, the Longhorns failed to win the Big 12 or crack the Top 20. This year Rivals.com ranked their recruiting class 20th.
Strong has a different coaching style than Brown, which is a good thing. The team needed change. The players had become apathetic and were desperate for a wake-up call. That's where coaching comes in. Recruiting elite athletes doesn’t automatically translate into winning. Strong is promising to put the “T” back in Texas. That is, toughness, trust, togetherness and teamwork.
Under new strength and conditioning coach Pat Moorer, who worked under Strong at Louisville, the Longhorns have been run through the ringer with a solid month of conditioning workouts. Moorer pushes players hard, which fits Strong's toughness mantra from both a mental and physical standpoint. Moorer believes that passion, teamwork and hard work make a team thrive.
Strong must convince the Longhorns to buy into his program, because the only way they are going to win is by trusting him. Yes, he wants to work them hard, but he also also wants to know them as people, and not just as the pistons that fuel the Texas football tradition.
To drive this message home, Strong has implemented new rules designed to bring the team together and get their focus on football, including moving them all on campus to live together. He also allows no earrings in the football facility, requires they sit in the first two rows in class and forbids texting or headphones that will distract them from notetaking.
Strong is serious about what he preaches. During conditioning drills he occasionally joins in on sprints and sometimes during tug-of-war. He runs five or six miles a day at 4:30 a.m. and he probably is in better shape than some of his players. If players are slacking off, Strong can jump in and show that he can hang with them. Everyone is held accountable.
Strong is a good man who cares about his players as much as he cares about the game. That is what will make Texas a force to be reckoned with in 2014.
Here's a quick look into the Longhorns conditioning workouts.