Today is the beginning of the Charlie Strong era at Texas … for the second time.
Like seemingly everything Strong does, there’s a savage, military-like regimen so consistent that it makes anyone with internet access a future teller. Whether it’s a 5:00 am jog, his weekly review of academic production of every player on his team or hurling youth into the fat of the fire, you can rely on his arrival.
Strong will march into the belly of the beast with 23 freshmen on his depth chart. Three starters on offense will be true freshmen, two on the offensive line. A large portion of the starters on this team were planning their prom arrangements four months ago. Now they will cut their teeth on the surface of what is widely considered the capital of college football. They will be wide-eyed. Charlie Strong will not.
This is formulaic. 2011 was the beginning of the Strong era at Louisville ... in his second season. There too, he thrusted youth forward as the first block in his foundation. At the end of his second season he was two games above .500. Then he won 23 of his next 26 games. 50% of one class were NFL draft picks, which is unheard of at Louisville … and Texas.
This is going to be bumpy, people. It’s likely that it will be around the beginning of the second quarter of this game that Longhorn fans will begin gnashing teeth. Our fanbase covets patience like a Catholic schoolgirl values chastity. But that’s every fanbase, really.
I’ve never been stirred in either direction by team slogans and mottos. But Strong’s audacity to open practice in t-shirts with the words “No More Excuses” printed large borders on arrogance and flirts with foolishness. I think it embodies the underlying genius of Strong. It seems directed specifically at the youth of this team to tell them from day one that nobody will be interested in their struggle to grasp the myriad of concepts being fired into their face with frenzied urgency. It also seems to shift the responsibility, or at least share it with the coaching staff. This is a team that will likely be punished. But they will find solidarity in this experience. In two years they will be frightening people.
With the right kind of eyes and foresight, seasons like this can be fun. Play by play you witness the promise of growth and the foul results of inexperience.
I’m not writing this as a qualifying exoneration of Charlie Strong. I write this as a request for anyone who reads this to educate those next to you who begin the inevitable chorus of doubt. Strong’s arrival times are as consistent as a burnt orange sunrise. Isn’t that flowery?
It’s not defeatist. It’s shameless, pro-Strong propaganda on a Joseph Goebells level to help all of you to identify the sound and shapes of our external enemies who must be terminated for sullying the purity of our inevitable growth. Geez, that puts a disturbingly ominous tone on the phrase “Get on the Train,” doesn’t it?
The razor edge of truth, logic and reality tell me that this first step is hopelessly perilous. But my heart says embrace the true beginning of the Strong era and Beat the Hell out of Notre Dame!