Charlie Rival Write-up: Texas Notes (Part 1)

Image from USA Today Sports (Photographer: Brendan Maloney)

Ever since Charlie Strong was hired, I’ve been talking to a few Texas people I know — that were connected to the old regime — and trying to get a feel for what we can expect from Strong and the new staff.

There have been three specific things I’ve been really interested in:

1) How they run practice and how the players look in general.

2) What their recruiting strategy will be.

3) Just a general sense of the overall attitude of the staff.

Getting information out of there is a lot tougher than it used to be because everyone is still in the process of building their connections to the new staff. My initial feeling about the Strong hire were mixed, but I probably leaned more towards the belief that he’ll be successful there. After all, the last former Florida DC to take a head coaching job in the Big 12 did pretty darn good! Also, I generally tend to believe in defensive minded head coaches.

A lot of people have wanted to use Strong’s record at Louisville as a sure sign that he’d be successful at Texas. I’d hear things like “imagine what he’ll do when he gets Texas recruits.” There is no question he did a nice job at Louisville, but I have real questions about just how much better his talent is actually going to be now that he’s in Austin.

I haven’t verified this (we’re a blog!), but I recall hearing at certain point during Strong’s tenure at Louisville that a third of the roster was from the state of Florida (with strong Miami ties). I’ve never been shy about my infatuation with Miami talent. To the point made above: Is he going to be able to draw better talent? Yes. Will it be significantly better? I’m not so sure!

Not only am I familiar with the talent in Louisville, I personally know a lot of the kids and coaches in the Miami area. And Coach Strong has built such a great pipeline, that there were kids actually willing to pick Louisville over other top BCS schools.

I’ll give you one example. George Rushing was a big time WR out of Miami this past year that had legitimate offers from schools like LSU, Wisconsin, TCU, etc. And when I say legitimate, I mean those offers still stood all the way to signing day (which a lot of times isn’t the case). He was committed to Louisville over all those schools and only decommitted after Strong left for Texas. But he loved “The Ville” so much that he still seriously considered the Cardinals, even after Strong left and Bobby Petrino was hired.

I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating, Miami kids love to go where other Miami kids play. Miami is already a bit isolated from the rest of the US, and they have a very distinct culture so they love being around other kids from that area. A friend of mine in Miami actually told me that Rushing would go to Wisconsin because there were a couple Miami kids there, and I said “No way, it’s too cold! He’ll go to TCU or LSU!” Who did he end up signing with? Good ol, ground and pound, WRs block on every play in 10 degree weather Wisconsin. Exactly what you’d expect from a WR who has lived his whole live in a tropical climate, right?

But the same thought that led to my questions about Strong also forced me to recognize the fact HE built that pipeline, and HE recruited those kids. That’s a talent! To convince a bunch of Miami kids that their home away from home is Louisville, Kentucky is no small task. And to recognize it could be done also required foresight.

I’ll be honest, I am still salty about the fact OU let Juwan Dowels go. I always felt it would have paid dividends down the road, but even when I talked about it a couple months back I didn’t think it would have already benefited us. Not only is he a former teammate of Torrance Gibson, but the two are also pretty good friends. But I digress.

As I mentioned above, while it’s been tough getting information out of Texas lately I’ve managed to get little bits and pieces here and there I found to be rather interesting. This post is getting pretty long so I’ll break it up into two parts, but I wanted to start by mentioning one of the first things I heard about the new staff. I have a good friend who is also a HS coach that attended one of Texas’ jr. days. He was always on good terms with the old guard, so I was really interested in getting his take on the new staff.

He said Strong and co. are night and day different from the old staff in terms of the general impression you get when you hear them speak or you meet with them. He said that it seemed to him Strong and Vance Bedford, the DBs coach, seem to run things, and they are absolutely no-nonsense. My buddy said he hadn’t really come across a staff that seemed so intense at a jr. day, and certainly not one in Austin for a long time. He mentioned that, at one point, Coach Bedford got up and looked at some of the recruits and said “If you’re DB and you can’t hit like a linebacker, then you might as well leave now because you cannot play for us!” Now maybe that’s something you’d hear coaches say during a practice, but it’s not usually something you’d hear at a jr. day and certainly not in the tone that I was told it Bedford used.

My buddy went on and on about how they laid out their expectations and it seemed obvious they really want to send a certain signal to visiting recruits. I get the impression they want to show recruits a stern side of them that will either make those recruits want to stay and play for them, or walk out and never come back. I suppose that’s sort of their weeding-out process. Everyone has a different style, but the impression I got is that they are trying to set a tone early on in how the approach/recruit players.

In Part Two, I’ll drop some practice notes that I managed to get and also talk a little bit about Coach Strong’s big picture recruiting strategy. I’ll tell you right now, it has me a bit baffled.


  • Jordan Esco

    Texas!
    Sucks!

    Sorry, just needed to be said.

    • pitbull17

      Seconded.

      • http://www.TheFootballBrainiacs.com/ JY

        Thirded

        • Sooner316

          Fourthed

          • ohiosoonerdevildog

            Fifthed.

          • Gary Robbins

            Fifthed- I’ll drink to that and thumbs up to what Jordan said.

        • leatherneck1061

          Fourthed.
          Wait, is that a word?

          • Learguy

            Sixded!!!! I feel dirty again!!!

    • paganpink

      Yes. Yes, you are correct, sir!

    • ToatsMcGoats

      It will never need to be un-said.

    • Ed Cotter

      Tuck Fexas! Or is that too much! /w <—— my attempt at the Horns Down!

      • pitbull17

        Nope, it’s appropriate

    • Sooner Ray

      Like a HOOVER!

  • pitbull17

    I wonder if Strong is over compensating a little. Trying to be as stern as possible because of how lax Mack had gotten and because he’s now captain of the biggest ship in the big12. To come from Louisville to texass and the dumpster fire they have in Austin is a ton of pressure and I wonder if it hasn’t already hit him pretty hard.

    • Jordan Esco

      I actually don’t think so. I just think that’s his style. He’s a hard-nosed guy that demands effort and respect from his players. Much like so many things in life, some guys respond to that and others don’t. But he’s never struck me as a guy who would do something just to do it.

      • Sonny Schovanec

        He hasn’t changed. Ask his former players at Louy. Kids can tell when a coach is a fraud/faking/act. Strong isn’t that. Wether the kids at UT will respond to his style. time will tell. But Strong isn’t putting on an act. He hasn’t changed a bit.

        • pitbull17

          I guess I worded my comment wrong. I wasn’t trying to insinuate that he had changed. He’s had a hard nose rep his entire career. What I’m saying is maybe he’s being a little more stern than usual just to make sure that every recruit and current player knows that it’s going to be his way or the highway.

          • Sonny Schovanec

            I hear ya Bro.

          • leatherneck1061

            I would say that’s definitely the case to some extent. Very likely he has detected some apathy in Mack’s collection of entitled debutantes and wants to send a strong message right from the start that those days are over.

  • Sonny Schovanec

    http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/03/johnny-manziel-calls-out-charlie-strong-texas/
    Love me some Johnny Football. IF YOU HAVEN”T SEEN MANZIEL’S GIG on Strong hit the link.

    • Bob Browning

      Manziel is still a punk.

      • Sonny Schovanec

        Punk indeed. Id take him to Q my team any day. Sucker can play. Actually he has that “it” that we look for in a Q.

        • EasTex

          No doubt he is a talented football player, but that just isn’t enough.
          I agree with OU alumnus Dari Nowkah’s take.
          http://youtu.be/_pKO-HeRHfY

          • Shelby is a Patriot

            Everything that guy said is right on point. If you can’t grow up when handed the responsibilities of being the starting QB and a Heisman winner, you never will. I still remember that play in the wheat-eater Bowl against Duke where he had a clear path to the endzone, was clearly going to make it, but reached behind him and dragged the Duke player chasing him into the endzone with him before throwing him out of bounds. Johnny Douchebag.

          • Sonny Schovanec

            No offense but winning football games isn’t for choir boys. Football is a Man’s game. And if you don’t think Johnny Football starts for OU I disagree.. Nothing personal to you guys and we all have opinions and I respect that. We are talking about a Heisman Trophy winner who led the SEC in RUSHING and passing who helped Texas A&M win a ton in the SEC.. Ask Coach Mike what he thinks. I know. :)

          • Sonny Schovanec

            Remember although he had issues early he didn’t blow up until after the Heisman. Do you think Coach Stoops kicks him off after winning the Heisman????

          • Shelby is a Patriot

            If he wouldn’t have I’d be pretty disappointed in him. Just because you win the Heisman doesn’t mean you get to act a fool. Manziel needs to grow up, and this coming from an 18 year old.

          • Shelby is a Patriot

            I would say with his issues on and off the field that he wouldn’t start unless he changed, try walking away if Stoops was yelling at you like he did Sumlin. That, and a man who acts like a child is not a man at all. I don’t care how good you are, with his arrogance and character issues, he wouldn’t start on my team, Heisman or not. Perhaps he should start acting like a Heisman winner, no?
            Maybe I just put more value in a players attitude and character, I wouldn’t like Trevor or any player on OU if they acted like Manziel. But agree to disagree.

          • Sonny Schovanec

            Shelby I value your opinion greatly. You are one of my fav posters. And I have a heck of a time disagreeing with East Texas. Look we are talking about millions of dollars here. Stoops is set, Sumlin wasn’t. BECAUSE OF JOHNNY FOOTBALL SUMLIN IS A FREAKING MILLIONARE 30 TIMES OVER. Johnny made Sumlin millions of dollars. You think Sumlin gave a rip when Johnny walked away ( Which Ive never heard of by the way)?

          • Shelby is a Patriot

            Idk if Sumlin cared or not, not relevant, just saying he wouldn’t get away with that under Stoops. Tim Tebow may not have panned out in the NFL, but he was a kid you could root for; Manziel is NOT. He clearly loves and craves the spotlight, and is not responsible at all.
            I can’t remember what game it was when he walked away, the opener maybe. Thank you, I value your opinion, as well. Still don’t like Manziel and pray he gets out of Texas so I don’t have to hear about him anymore, Lol.

          • Sonny Schovanec

            Shelby my friend he wouldn’t pull that crap with Stoops IMHO. I work with teenagers everyday for going on 25 plus years. Dang I’m getting old. They know what they can get away with. I bet Stoops would have taken him after he was 22/34 passing 287 2 TD’s and 1 pick. He RUSHED FOR freaking 220 plus and 2 TD’s.

          • Shelby is a Patriot

            Again, and I guess this depends on perspective, stats are meaningless if you’re arrogant ass and pull the crap he does. I’ll take the player who cares more about the team than himself and is an average player over the superstar with character issues that clearly can’t see his flaws.

          • Sonny Schovanec

            Hate to admit but I’d take the player who would make me a millionaire. $30 million Guaranteed. Then I’d deal with the ramifications later. Talk to you later. I have to go to my second job tonight. It helps pay the bills.

          • Shelby is a Patriot

            I couldn’t blame you from a money stand point, but I think finding guys like Sam Bradford, Russell Wilson, RGIII, etc. pays off more in the long run.

          • Sonny Schovanec

            Amen Shelby!

          • Shelby is a Patriot

            Anyway, we should probably put this to rest, Lol. Good debate and I can see what you’re saying.

          • Sonny Schovanec

            Shelby one question. You think Bob Stoops has never put up with an attitude when that player gave him a chance to win ball games?

          • Shelby is a Patriot

            Every coach has, I just think if Manziel continued to act like he does under Stoops he would’ve ended up like Damien, or got benched until he fixed it. If not, I wouldn’t hold as much respect for him.

          • Sonny Schovanec

            I will buy that! See we can agree on this. AND AMEN!! to that. YOUR last sentence. It gets all over me when a coach puts up with a jerk.

          • Sonny Schovanec

            Look Shelby I agree with a lot of what you are saying and Hate too stand up for a kid of character like Johnny Football but when the food that you can buy and put on the table for your family depends on wins and a player like JF can make you millions in Guaranteed contract it happens.

          • Shelby is a Patriot

            I’m mostly talking about if he were playing at OU, and like you said, Stoops already has money. Won’t matter soon, though, because he won’t make it in the NFL. ;)

          • Sonny Schovanec

            Hey I don’t want you to think I believe Coach would sell out to a player and lower his values and his expectations of player conduct for money. Coach has more values then that. I just think Manziel would have been a different kid within OU’s parameters. The FB talk about it often. Thanks for the Debate.

          • Sonny Schovanec

            An opinion. His right.
            http://thevikingage.com/2014/01/27/gil-brandt-calls-johnny-manziel-better-version-fran-tarkenton/
            Gil Brandt’s take on Johnny Football. Who are you believing?? Some guy who never played the game or a guy who not only played it at the highest of levels but has been in the game 50 years at the highest levels and has put numerous of his draft selections in the HOF.

          • Sonny Schovanec

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5HxUc5JVaUw

            Or how about Gruden? He was Farve’s position coach and has a ring. You think he knows a little about QB’s?

          • Sonny Schovanec

            http://news.yahoo.com/manziel-leads-m-cotton-bowl-rout-sooners-085903476–spt.html
            Just one more “Best Player Ive ever Played/Coached against” Mike Stoops. He’s coached against how many NFL players? I’m just looking at it from a coaches perspective

          • EasTex

            I understand your perspective and respect it.
            We just disagree on this one, which is cool with me.

        • Shelby is a Patriot

          I doubt with his attitude he’d start at OU, just sayin’. I see fifteen-year-olds everyday that can conduct themselves in a more mature manner, and if you’ve seen my generation, that’s not saying much.

      • EasTex

        I call him Miley Cyrus because you know he is going to show is rear end, you just don’t know when. Judging by his behavior and the long line of criminals in his lineage I fully expect him to be in prison in the next ten years.
        My oldest brother and I have purchased every ‘Dave Campbell’s Texas Football’ magazine since the early 60’s. We both refused to buy last year’s edition because it featured Miley and included a full size fold out poster. Glad he’s gone so I never have to see or hear about him ever again.

        • Sonny Schovanec

          Look my friend I don’t like his off the antics any more then you do. Football coaches are paid to win games. If they don’t WE get fired.

    • Learguy

      Johnny Assbag is a punk ass bitch. Karma will bitch slap his ass hard…

      • Sonny Schovanec

        Yeah like all the millions he’s already made in endorsements. Karma.

        • Learguy

          He’s got a lot of living yet to do. It will catch up to him.

        • Learguy

          He has a lot of living yet to do. There is time.

  • SoonerPhins

    Personally I don’t see Strong as the answer to Texas. Just a feeling, Time will tell I guess.

    • Perry Dickey

      I feel one things for certain, if the ‘get tuff’ attitude doesn’t win games the mountain will fall very very quickly.

      • leatherneck1061

        For some reason it makes me think of Pete Carrol’s days at USC which were supposedly a stark contrast to the ‘get tuff’ attitude. Practices were designed to be fun, fun, fun and the mood was kept high energy but light to make the workouts more enjoyable (or so it was said). Whatever the case, I’m not sure how long you can run the show with just fire and intensity before your players get emotionally drained.

  • Steve Cooke

    1 contrast between him & Stoops is Bob only wants his players in the dorm for a mac of 2 years I’ve been told and an article written when Strong got the job is all football players will be in the dorms. It was said all their leases were or are bought out of any other accommodations.

  • BigJoeBrown

    I am going to admit…it’s just weird seeing Tejas on this site.

  • Sooner Ray

    Whaaaa? We can get tejas practice reports and not our own? That just ain’t right.

    • Super K

      Lol it’s not very detailed just some notes I got from a friend who attended a couple practices.

  • EasTex

    It’s still Austin and it’s still UT.
    As a Texan I recognize that this school and this city defy the laws of physics.
    They both blow and suck…simultaneously.
    Even with great talent and a hard nosed coach they will not be a consistent contender because of where they reside and the culture they are surrounded with.

  • Cory Reedy

    Ok, Texass notes. We saw..we read…we discussed. NOW DELETE THIS CRAP! : )

  • Eddie and Amber

    Texas fans are probably eating the new “militant regime” up; well that’s until they lose one or two games early. Can’t wait to read the Austin Statesmen then.

  • Learguy

    Heard Charlie banned the “Hook ‘em” hand gesture. Anybody else heard same or otherwise?

    • Sooner Ray

      Wasn’t really a ban, more like suspension. He’s making them earn the right to use it similar to what Nebraska did with the blackshirts a while back.

      • Learguy

        That makes more sense…

  • SilverFox

    whorens until i see different.

  • Shelby is a Patriot

    My stepfather is a Texas fan and alum so being able to give him some info on the Texas practices would be much appreciated. Plus, know thy enemy.