New Texas Longhorns coach Charlie Strong has been working hard to mold his team into something that fits his vision of how Texas football should be. Obviously the most significant of these moves — and possibly the most beneficial— was the dismissal of several players, and suspensions of others. It might hurt the Longhorns a bit in 2014, but long-term it will do a lot to make sure that Strong’s teams buy in to the way he does things.
But some of the more unconventional moves he’s made seem a bit, gimmicky.
First there was this:
— Brian Davis (@BDavisAAS) August 4, 2014
Notice something? The Longhorns’ logo has been stripped from the helmets. Strong decided that the players will have to earn those logos, along with the right to use the “Hook ‘Em Horns” sign, according to Laken Litman of USA Today.
At first, this sounds like a nice way of building some team pride. The problem, of course, is that it can’t continue into the season. The players can’t wear different helmets and obviously they aren’t all going to wear plain white ones. Even if Strong decided that his team didn’t deserve to have the logo on their helmets, marketing and branding would end up winning the day (as they always do).
Once you realize that the Longhorns logo will inevitably return in time for the first game, it becomes harder to take this move seriously.
Then there was the announcement Strong made after practice this week that the coaches were living in the dorms with the players. This might be slightly less silly than the stunt with the helmets, but after dismissing and suspending several players and defacing the remaining players’ helmets, it just seems like overkill.
Maybe the state of the program really was so rotten that all of this has been necessary. Who knows? Strong is a very good coach, and maybe a great one. For now, he deserves the benefit of the doubt.
Ultimately though, the way Strong’s decisions will be perceived will depend on how his Texas football team performs on the field this season. If they win, Strong will be hailed as a genius. If they lose, he will be mocked, and these decisions will almost certainly be cited in the cries for his job.