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New Texas football coach Charlie Strong has character, background to turn Texas back into a championship-caliber team

by Jenni Carlson Published: January 6, 2014

photo - Charlie Strong holds up the
Charlie Strong holds up the "Hook'em Horns" hand signal during an NCAA college football news conference where he was introduced as the new Texas football coach, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Strong acknowledged the historical significance of being the school's first African-American head coach of a men's sport. He takes over for Mack Brown, who stepped down last month after 16 seasons. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

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?

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by Jenni Carlson
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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