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Strong spent 3 decades prepping for job like Texas

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 16, 2014 at 11:30 am •  Published: August 16, 2014
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Charlie Strong has been prepping to lead the Texas Longhorns for 30 years. The evidence is tucked away in his office, stuffed into file cabinets one page, one lesson, one line at a time.

Inside the drawers are daily notes, quotes, practice reports, meeting agendas and conversations that span a career from his first job as a graduate assistant at Florida in 1983 to stops at Texas A&M, Mississippi, South Carolina, Notre Dame and back to Florida before his first head coaching job at Louisville.

Some are typed on pages still crisp. Others are handwritten on floppy and withered paper. They have followed Strong to every job he's ever had, including Texas.

"His attention to detail was unmatched," said Gary Darnell, who coached with Strong at Florida in 1988-89. "He loves gathering information. He was either going to be a college professor or a coach."

And it likely explains why Strong comes off as so confident to face the mission in front of him: returning Texas to the top of the Big 12.

"It isn't a monster," Strong said of Texas, despite the fact that his office view of the stadium is partly blocked by a video board so big its nickname is Godzillatron. "It's a program with all the resources you need."

Strong will need every bit of that confidence — and those resources — as he begins his tenure. Strong, the first black head coach of a men's sport at Texas, was hired to replace Mack Brown, who in 2005 delivered the Longhorns' first national championship in 36 years and led them to another national title game after the 2009 season. But the run ended there. Since 2010, Texas hasn't won more than nine games in a season.

Texas offensive coordinator Joe Wickline, who was with Strong as a graduate assistant at Florida, describes him as "insanely organized."

"He's always been like that," Wickline said. "He made notes of drops, missed assignments. Charted everything."

But it was more than routine stuff. By documenting the details, Strong was soaking up years of valuable teaching from national championship-winning coaches like Lou Holtz, Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer.

Spurrier taught him how to build team confidence, not just for a game, but a swashbuckling program-wide swagger.

"(Spurrier) built a confidence in a team where you knew you weren't going to lose a game. It didn't matter who we played, he made that team feel it's time to go put on a show,'" Strong said. "They came here to watch US play ... No matter where we went, Alabama or Auburn, it didn't matter. That's the confidence you have to build in a program."

Holtz taught him about attention to detail. Not just within a game or practice or playbook, but within his players. Holtz demanded that his assistant coaches know their players better than he did. And it was challenge because Holtz seemed to know everything about every player on the roster, from their personal lives to their weekly academic status.

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