Charlie Strong is out at Texas with a record of 16-21 in his three seasons as head coach.
The decision announced Saturday comes after the Longhorns concluded their season with a 31-9 home loss to TCU. Strong’s Longhorns finished the regular season with a 5-7 record (3-6, Big 12). He finishes his three-year career at Texas with a 16-21 record (12-15, Big 12).
Longhorns athletics director Mike Perrin said in a statement that "after thorough evaluation, the body of work over three season has not shown the improvement we were hoping for. This was an important year for our program to take the next step, and the results simply aren't there, so we've decided to make a change."
“Decisions like this are tough to make. The responsibility is not taken lightly. I became friends with Charlie Strong before becoming Athletics Director. I have the utmost personal respect for him. His impact on college athletics and student-athletes should be celebrated. Coach Strong represented The University of Texas with class and dignity, and he demanded our student-athletes do the same by adhering to his system of core values. However, after thorough evaluation, the body of work over three seasons has not shown the improvement we were hoping for. This was an important year for our program to take the next step, and the results simply aren’t there, so we’ve decided to make a change. We appreciate Coach Strong so much, are grateful for all he has done with our program and wish him the best in the future.”
Strong released a statement saying he understands "it comes down to wins and losses and we have not done our job in that area."
“It’s a very difficult day for me, my family and all of the people affected by this decision. I’m most disappointed for these kids and our staff who have poured so much of their lives into this program for the last three years. I do understand that it comes down to wins and losses, and we have not done our job in that area yet. I accept full responsibility for that, but know in my heart that we accomplished our primary goal, which is the development of young men. We have had a positive impact on our campus and the community, and I’m proud of how our team is focused on earning their degrees. We were developing something really special. This program has a championship foundation built on great young men with tremendous character. There are very bright days ahead, and I’ll be pulling for these kids no matter where I am. I want to thank everyone who supported me and this program for the last three years. I don’t regret coming to Texas. I learned a great deal and grew as a person in my time here. I’ll miss the opportunity to lead this program going forward, but I'm ready to accept my next challenge.”
Texas President Greg Fenves wanted badly for Strong to succeed, but he needed some evidence in the last two weeks of the season to push back against the big-money boosters thirsting for Houston coach Tom Herman.
Instead, he got a six-turnover performance in a loss at Kansas, which hadn’t won a Big 12 game since Nov. 8, 2014. Then on Friday with a chance to earn a sixth win and reach a bowl game, the Longhorns fell apart in the second half of a close game against the Horned Frogs.
The defeat closed the book on the third consecutive losing season under Strong. It's the first time Texas has had three losing seasons in row since 1936-38.
Herman now likely becomes the leading candidate to lead the program if the Longhorns can move quickly. Multiple reports Thursday said Herman was closing in on a deal with LSU.
For all the recruiting success and the base of young talent Strong built for the future, the team continued to fail at the little things that mostly reflect on the quality of coaching. Penalties. Footwork. Special teams. Concentration.
Strong will walk away with a lot of money — a reported $10 million buyout — and perhaps an opportunity down the road to resurrect his head coaching career elsewhere.
It just didn’t work out, from an inconsistent offensive philosophy to a defense that regressed every year to squandering the historically significant production of running back D’Onta Foreman.
Under a contract that was set to run through Jan. 23, 2019, Strong will be owed a buyout of about $11.2 million that would be paid out on a monthly basis through the end of the contract term. However, Strong is obligated to make reasonable efforts to obtain other employment. If he does, Texas’ obligation to him will be offset by an amount equal to 50% of the total compensation Strong receives from his new job.
Texas also will be facing the prospect of considerable payouts to Strong’s assistants. Five of his nine on-field assistants are under contract through Jan. 31, 2018, three through Jan. 31, 2019. Collectively, those eight are being paid nearly $4.2 million this season.
Offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert is due $850,000 per year through Jan. 31, 2019, defensive coordinator Vance Bedford $760,000 in base salary through Jan. 31, 2018. Gilbert, Bedford and other assistants have the same mitigation obligations that Strong does, along with the same buyout offset arrangement.
This is a developing story. Please check back to KVUE.com for updates.