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Charlie Strong has made some tough love statements to his Texas football team

Arguably the nicest thing the Texas coach said about his football team during Big 12 media days: “We’re not as bad as we used to be.” And by the look on his chiseled face, he wasn’t trying to be funny.
by Jenni Carlson Published: July 22, 2014

DALLAS — Charlie Strong isn’t promising national championships or predicting win totals.

Far from it.

Arguably the nicest thing the Texas coach said about his football team during Big 12 media days: “We’re not as bad as we used to be.”

And by the look on his chiseled face, he wasn’t trying to be funny.

On a day when Strong and his Longhorns got every bit as much attention as the Big 12 favorite Sooners, there was an obvious change in the vibe around Texas. Gone are the days of Mack Brown cracking jokes and shaking hands and kissing babies and treating everyone like a long-lost play cousin. Crossing the seriousness of a drill sergeant and the drive of Billy Blanks — I wondered if the broad-shouldered coach might jump up at any moment and start doing pushups — Strong seems like he’d enjoy becoming friendly with reporters about as much as walking across hot coals.

Heck, he’d probably prefer the coals.

Strong had to fight his way up the college football food chain, and it made him hungry, tough, successful.

He wants the same for his team.

But how do you breed that where the football program has every advantage, every facility, every gadget, every last luxury that the players could want?

Strong has taken them away.

The air-conditioned buses that took the players a half-mile to practice?

Now, the players walk.

The off-campus housing that a vast majority of players lived in?

Now, they’ve been told to move back to campus housing.

The unfettered access that players have to the Moncrief-Neuhaus Athletic Center, which is as impressive as it is massive?

Strong banned four of them from it earlier this summer.

“They did it (to) themselves,” he said Tuesday. “Go to class. Do what I tell you to do.”

Texas running back Malcolm Brown said of Strong: “He preaches that toughness is not just about physical toughness ...not just about going out and wearing us down in practice. He always says, ‘Toughness is getting up and going to class early when you’re tired.’”

Now, I admit that some of Strong’s tactics seem a little hokey. The Longhorn logo in the carpet in the middle of the locker room, for example, has been roped off. No one is allowed to walk on it. Only on game days will the ropes be removed so that the players can gather on the logo, hoot and holler on the horn.

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by Jenni Carlson
Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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