Charlie Strong didn't win his introductory press conference Monday morning in Austin.
A couple of wandering answers and a lack of witty one-liners were evidence that he's no Mack Brown.
The new Texas coach's response to the very first question asked of him made reference to future teams' struggles; pretty sure Texas didn't hire him to struggle. Then at one point, he praised Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and Baylor coach Art Briles. Can't imagine that made for a bunch of happy Horns.
But when it comes to what matters most — winning on the football field, not in the media room — Sooners and Cowboys alike should be concerned. Strong looks like a guy who is going to make the Longhorns a big-time nemesis.
“It's time to put Texas back on the national stage,” he said.
Strong has the character and the background to do just that.
For starters, he's a no-nonsense guy. He talked Monday about building a program based on toughness, both physical and mental. Accountability and responsibility were buzz words that he mentioned several times. That's the kind of approach you'd expect out of a longtime defensive guy who has a go-run-through-that-wall mentality.
Remember, Texas is a place where there have been whispers, right or wrong, about teams being soft. It's hard to imagine Strong being the head coach of a soft team.
Strong also made it clear Monday that he intends to recruit the heck out of the Lone Star State — he said he wants to “close the borders on this state” while cherry picking talent from other states, most notably Florida where he still has ties after four stints totaling 15 seasons with the Gators — but he made it clear that he isn't going to get hung up on recruiting rankings.
“Let's not get caught up in the five stars. Let's not get caught up in the four stars,” he said. “Let's get caught up in the football players.”
It's doubtful that Strong intended that as a jab at his predecessor, but Mack did earn the nickname “Coach February.” He always won big in recruiting, but these past few years, all of those four- and five-star players didn't mesh into championship-caliber teams.
In several instances, it looked like Mack and Co. were more interested in a player's ranking than by what he could become.
How else do you explain passing over Matthew Stafford for Jevan Snead, Nick Foles for John Chiles and Johnny Manziel for David Ash?
All of those passed over passers were Texas high school players who probably would've crawled to Austin if given a chance to play quarterback for the Longhorns.
Ditto for Robert Griffin III and Andrew Luck. Texas didn't get either of those two in a year when it signed no quarterbacks.
Strong isn't an offensive mastermind, of course, but he's no dummy either when it comes to that side of the ball. He knows what to look for in quarterbacks, having been at Florida when the Gators had Tim Tebow and Chris Leak and at Notre Dame when the Irish had Ron Powlus.
No surprise that Strong and Co. landed a good one at Louisville. Teddy Bridgewater was one of the nation's top-ranked dual-threat quarterbacks when the Cardinals signed him, and later this spring, he might just be the No. 1 pick in this spring's NFL Draft.
Imagine if the Longhorns had a Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback these past few years.
Chances are good, Mack would still be coaching the Longhorns instead of raising money for them, a duty that's sure to be part of his new gig as special adviser to university president Bill Powers. I mean, no one sells the university better than Brown.
(Suggestion for Strong, who apparently loathes camera lights: ask Mack to come to practice every day and be your Longhorn Network liaison. Dealing with that responsibility every day would be a drag for someone who loves the media, but Mack would do it in a heartbeat and would be good at it.)
The truth is, Strong wasn't the first choice of the Longhorns. There were candidates with bigger names and higher profiles who had the eyes of Texas upon them. But despite that and a so-so introduction Monday morning, there's no doubt that Strong can make the Longhorns a force that once again stands toe-to-toe with anyone in the Big 12.
“At the end of the day,” Strong said, “it's all about winning.”
Charlie Strong can do that on the field.
Win there, and no one will care what he does in the press conferences.
Jenni Carlson: Jenni can be reached at (405) 475-4125. Like her at facebook.com/JenniCarlsonOK, follow her at twitter.com/jennicarlson_ok or view her personality page at newsok.com/jennicarlson.