STILLWATER — A package from a reader arrived at The Oklahoman's office a few days ago.
It was an Associated Press story about new Texas coach Charlie Strong's introductory news conference. Certain words and figures were underlined in black pen, such as the years the Longhorns won national titles, Strong's annual salary of about $5 million and the nugget that Texas is the nation's richest athletic program.
But this was underlined in red pen: “(Strong) wants to ‘close the border' to out-of-state programs.”
“Big controversy ahead,” the reader wrote in red at the bottom of the story.
Strong's hiring — which came following Mack Brown's resignation following 16 seasons — was, of course, a national story. Moving forward, it also affects both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.
Strong brings a reputation for toughness and defense and rebuilding a program in a basketball-crazed state. What could he do in the Texas recruiting hotbed?
He's not only talked about closing those recruiting borders in Texas; he's stepped over the line into Oklahoma and poached arguably OSU's best assistant coach in Joe Wickline and turned him into the Longhorns' offensive coordinator.
Here's a look at the impact Strong could have on our in-state teams.
That marked-up AP story shows some are already thinking about it — and are, perhaps, concerned.
Toughness and discipline
When asked what the word “soft” made him think of, Strong responded with “a pillow.”
That drew chuckles from the crowd. But Strong knew the reporter was alluding to the perception that the Longhorns lacked grit and tenacity during recent seasons.
Strong vows that will change under his leadership.
“It's all about toughness, and players understand that,” Strong said. “If you're a disciplined program and you prepare them the right way and they have the right focus, that won't be an issue.”
Reports indicate that discipline won't just be on the field. According to the Texas blog Barking Carnival, all players will now be required to live on campus (unless they are a senior who has met a certain academic criteria) and sit in the front two rows of classes.
This tends to go hand-in-hand with the revamped overall attitude.
Texas featured the 2013 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in Jackson Jeffcoat. But this Longhorn squad was the definition of middle-of-the-road in the Big 12 in scoring defense (sixth, 25.8 points per game), rushing defense (sixth, 183.1 yards per game), passing defense (fifth, 224.2 yards per game) and total defense (407.2 yards per game).