Before his first game as the Texas Longhorns’ head football coach, Charlie Strong had no problem showing his dedication to excellence and dominance across the board by quickly dismissing nine players.
Strong established a “5 Core Values” system that stood for honesty, treating women with respect, no drugs, no stealing, and no weapons.
Off the field, this season was pretty good for the Longhorns after cleaning house this summer, but where Texas came up short, was in the execution on the field.
On Dec. 31, it was announced that Strong had fired wide receivers coach, Les Koenning, and tight ends coach Bruce Chambers. This, just days after Texas suffered a brutal 31-7 loss against the Arkansas Razorbacks, in the Advocate V100 Bowl in Houston on Dec. 29.
At face value one has to wonder, “Why Koenning and Chambers? Why not the offensive coordinator?”
As many might remember, Texas’ offensive coordinator Joe Wickline was able to avoid paying his former employer, Oklahoma State, a $600,000 penalty when he took the job, as long as he would be hired as a head coach or offensive coordinator, with play-calling duties. However, last summer, Strong alluded that Shawn Watson — the Longhorns’ quarterbacks coach — was calling the plays. Naturally a lawsuit and countersuit are still pending, but I know a few fans are shaking their heads at why this drama didn’t make Wickline the expendable outcome of today’s news.
Strong released a statement along with the decision.
“Les and Bruce are both good men and good football coaches. “It’s unfortunate that it didn’t work out, but I just feel like we need to make a change and head in a different direction in their positions. We wish them the best.”
Both coaches were on two-year contracts, however, Chambers had been with the staff for 17 years, and was the last remaining coach from the Mack Brown days. Koenning was a former Texas football player, and was hired from Mississippi State in 2014, where he was the OC.
As Strong is trying to establish that personal bests will only be tolerated at 40-Acres, the Texas offense was anything but, this season. And the Texas Bowl highlighted that, as the ‘Horns were only able to get seven first downs, and 59 total offensive yards: 57 passing, and just two yards rushing.
To make matters worse for the 6-7 Longhorns, Baylor, TCU, Texas Tech, and West Virginia all rank in the Top 11 in the nation in total offense. The Longhorns rank 110th, averaging 4.92 yards per play, and 4,385-yards for 32 touchdowns. Despite the Longhorns beating Texas Tech in Lubbock this season, just that offensive statistic alone was enough to get a solid metric that there would be an immediate change on Strong’s staff this offseason.
Senior wide receiver John Harris was possibly the best offensive stat to come out of the Longhorns, as his 68 receptions for 1,051-yards and seven touchdowns this season, made him just the sixth player in school history to reach the 1,000-yard mark.
There aren’t any names floating around the Coaching Carousel as possible replacements, just yet. But expect Strong to move fast, as National Signing Day is fast approaching.
*Section Photo credit to Matthew Emmons, USA Today Sports; Featured Photo (above) credit to Brendan Maloney, USA Today Sports