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Berry Tramel


Oklahoma football: Charlie Strong & Bob Stoops comparisons

by Berry Tramel Modified: January 6, 2014 at 12:55 pm •  Published: January 6, 2014
(AP Photo/John Raoux, File)
(AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

Texas has just hired a 53-year-old former University of Florida defensive coordinator who spent some formative years with Steve Spurrier. OU is coached by a 53-year-old former University of Florida defensive coordinator who spent some formative years with Steve Spurrier.

It’s doubtful that the Charlie Strong/Bob Stoops rivalry will last as long as the 15 years of Stoops/Mack Brown. But it should be fun watching how OU-Texas morphs with a new Longhorn coach. The last time OU-Texas had a new head coach, it was the 20th century and the world was different.

Here’s a quick bio on Strong. He was born Aug. 2, 1960, in Batesville, Ark. That’s 38 days before Stoops was born in Youngstown.

Batesville is a town of about 10,000 located in northeast Arkansas. NFL quarterback Ryan Mallett is from Batesville. Former major leaguer Rick Monday was born in Batesville. NASCAR star Mark Martin was born and raised in Batesville.

Strong went to Batesville High School, then to the University of Central Arkansas, as a walk-on. Strong quickly earned a scholarship as a defensive back — he had 186 tackles, 11 interceptions and a 100-yard interception return against Southeast Missouri State.

Strong went to graduate school at Henderson State and then began a coaching odyssey.

Graduate assistant at Florida for two years and one year at Texas A&M. Then two years coaching at Southern Illinois. Two years at Florida, where he coached for Galen Hall, the long-time offensive coordinator at OU.

When Hall was fired, Florida hired Spurrier. Before Spurrier made up his mind about his staff, Strong took a job at Ole Miss. A year later, Spurrier called Strong and brought him back to Florida, as assistant head coach.

In 1995, Lou Holtz hired away Strong for Notre Dame. But after one year, Holtz resigned. Bob Davie took over, and Strong stayed on the staff. Three years later, Holtz became head coach at South Carolina and brought Strong to Columbia as defensive coordinator.

In 2002, Spurrier went to the NFL, and Florida promoted Ron Zook. Zook hired Strong to be defensive coordinator, and when Zook flamed out and Urban Meyer came aboard, Strong stayed on.

In December 2009, Louisville hired Strong.

So next October, Strong and Stoops meet for the first time in an ancient rivalry. They will enter the Cotton Bowl with some shared history.

by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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