Strong fired after three full seasons on the 40 Acres

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Photo Credit: Emmanuel Briseño | Daily Texan Staff

Texas athletic director Mike Perrin released a statement Saturday morning stating that Charlie Strong has been fired from his duties as the head coach of the Longhorns after three seasons.

“After thorough evaluation, the body of work over three seasons has not shown the improvement we were hoping for,” Perrin said in a statement. “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.”

Strong entered the week after reports came out Sunday saying Texas had made the decision to move on in the wake of a 24-21 loss to one-win Kansas. Perrin refuted reports in a statement, saying Strong would be evaluated after the season finale.

The head coach battled through the week and prepared his players to perform in an emotional senior day game in Austin. A win may have well saved Strong’s position for yet another season while nudging Texas into a bowl game for the second time in his three-year tenure. But TCU’s 31-9 trouncing of the Longhorns nullified any chance of returning for a fourth season.

“There are very bright days ahead,” Strong said in a statement. “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.”

And despite leaving Texas with the worst winning percentage as a coach in school history (43.2 percent), Strong said it’s important to look at the positives he brought to the program.

“When I took the job, I just felt like I knew I would impact the players that are inside that locker room,” Strong said after Friday’s game. “I knew I would do that.”

Strong didn’t accomplish his goal of winning a national championship. He didn’t hold true on his promise to never lose five or more games in a season after Texas went 6–7 in his first year, either. Strong went 5–7 in his final two years here.

But he did win the hearts of most of his players, whether they were able to show it on the field or not. Junior running back D’Onta Foreman said the wins and losses don’t reflect the progress Strong made during his time on the 40 Acres.

“I feel like people overlook the progress that we’ve made,” Foreman said. “I feel like he can get this program right back to where it needs to be.”

Foreman, who finished the season with 2,028 rushing yards, isn’t the only Longhorn sad to see Strong move on. Sophomore linebacker Malik Jefferson said it’s frustrating to see Strong’s fate just two years removed from Strong heavily recruiting him to the program.

“We love that man; he’s made us better players and better men, of course, on and off the field,” Jefferson said. “You wish you could go back and change things but you can’t.”

Strong finished with a 16–21 record during his three years in Austin. But as he exits his office for the final time, he knows that his impact on the program ran much deeper than wins and losses.

“You still can't be afraid to go to the blackboard,” Strong said. “The reason why is that you may get knocked down. You're going to still have to pick yourself up. You don't quit, you don't ever quit on yourself.”