Charlie Strong promised the Longhorns wouldn’t lose five games again after his 6-7 inaugural campaign as Texas’ head coach. But after a 24-0 loss to Iowa State, Strong has lost five of eight games so far in his second year.
“I can make those predictions,” Strong said. “But it doesn’t always happen, so there’s not much I can do about it. We’ve just got to keep playing.”
Strong’s woes stretch throughout his time at Texas. Seven of his worst losses as head coach have come during his time in Austin. He’s lost 12 of his 21 games at Texas — eight of those by 20 points or more.
Strong called his loss embarrassing. After his first loss at Texas — a 41-7 blowout to BYU — he said it was “an embarrassment to this program, it’s an embarrassment to this university.” After a 50-7 road loss to TCU on Oct. 3, Strong called the day “awful. It was embarrassing.” Strong, however, didn’t call the loss to Iowa State an embarrassment.
“I don’t think that [the players] were embarrassed on Saturday,” Strong said. “I don’t think that was embarrassing. The guys played hard. It wasn’t a factor where they didn’t go out there and lay down and they didn’t play hard. This team didn’t go out there and quit. They played hard. This team did do that.”
But Strong’s losses are becoming a trend. The Longhorns appeared to turn a corner after a 24-17 win against No. 14 Oklahoma. But Texas’ winning momentum blew away after a loss to the Cyclones.
Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said he wants the players to step up after the disappointing loss.
“Go put your stamp on what it means to be a Longhorn,” Bedford said. “That means every day in practice and every ball game, you’re fired up to represent all the great players and great teams, and the coaches that have come before you. What they did, you had nothing to do with. Put your stamp on it.”
Freshman linebacker Malik Jefferson said he doesn’t have answers for the Longhorns’ struggles. He feels the losses could help Texas.
“It takes you from off the pedestal to at the bottom,” Jefferson said. “The feeling is horrible, but that feeling is what we need to humble ourselves. I don’t take it as something that’s going to damage us in the future.”
Senior linebacker Peter Jinkens said the team needs to channel its fears of losing Strong and its chance to make a bowl game.
“After this loss, we have to make a statement for the rest of this season if we want to get things turned back around,” Jinkens said.
Strong and the Longhorns have struggled during his tenure at Texas. Strong will need his team to find its way in the final four games to become bowl eligible. Strong will need to stop his ‘embarrassing’ trend.