History may not be kind to Charlie Strong’s Texas tenure, but as it turns out, Strong wasn’t just coaching for the Longhorns; he was coaching for African Americans everywhere.
“I never thought that Texas was better than Louisville, but you had a platform there,” Strong said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “There was a stage where I felt like if I was successful at Texas – and not only for the African American coaches, but (for the young African American) who wants to be the CEO of IBM or wants to go run a major corporation – I just felt like the success that I had would put them in position where, when they do have a chance to take over, they will get a look because of the success that I was having.”
Unfortunately, Strong went 16-21 in three seasons at Texas. He never finished with a winning record and was fired in November.
“Even though it didn’t happen for me the way I thought it would, I hope I was able to open some more doors,” Strong said. “ I just felt like I was in that position. I probably put more pressure on myself than I probably should have, but we don’t get many opportunities. I just felt like that was a great opportunity. . . . You didn’t want to say no because you would always be wondering, ‘What if? What if?’ But still, though, I’d sometimes say, ‘Hey, it’s a burden, but I can have some success here and move this program forward and continue to build and be consistent here, (and it could still help) another young coach that’s coming along or another young person who’s looking to take a step and move up the ladder in their profession.'”
Strong may carry Texas with him forever, but he’s not going to let it consume him. He’s going to learn from it and move on.
“When you weren’t successful, it always is going to kind of linger, but you don’t want it to consume you,” he said. “You can’t let it consume you because I have taken over (at South Florida) and I’ve got to pour everything that I have into this job and go make this the best job in the country. I have to do that. I’ve moved on now. And you have to move on because if you don’t, you’re going to spend so many days continuing trying to figure out why – and there’s no why now. We’ve moved on. That chapter in your life has been closed. let’s move on to that next chapter.”
Strong, who is 53-37 in his career, was asked about some of his former players, including Teddy Bridgewater, who suffered a torn ACL and dislocated knee during a Vikings practice last August.
“He came by here two weeks ago, and he came up to see me,” Strong said. “I look at him and I said, ‘Teddy, have you gotten taller?’ And he said, ‘Coach, yes, I have. I’ve grown since that injury.’ He had such a great attitude. He said, ‘I’m rehabbing. I’m working it.’”
Bridgewater, 24, played 16 games in 2015 before missing all of last season.
“He hasn’t had many injuries, and mentally it’s really tough, but he was in good spirits with it,” Strong said. “We won’t know until he gets back out there and starts moving around, but he felt good about it himself and he said, ‘I’m going to be all right, coach. I’ll be fine.’”
Strong was also asked about NFL Draft prospect D’Onta Foreman, who rushed for 2,000+ yards last season season at Texas. The 6-0, 233-pounder averaged 6.3 yards per carry and scored 15 touchdowns.
“I think that D’Onta is going be an outstanding running back,” Strong said. “He rushed for 2,000 yards. One game, I gave him the ball 50 times.”
Actually, it was 51. Foreman rushed for 250 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-21 overtime loss at Kansas last November.
“He is big, he’s strong, he’s powerful and he can run,” Strong said. “People don’t realize he has breakaway speed where he can run away from people. I just love his whole attitude. People really don’t know because he left early, but I just think he’s an outstanding player.”