After a month of speculation, Texas’ next head coach didn’t come from the NFL or the college football pantheon. Instead, the Longhorns’ opted for Louisville head coach Charlie Strong.
It’s a quiet hire after a month of loud speculation. But men's head athletic director Steve Patterson feels Strong is the perfect man for the job.
"I am excited to have Charlie Strong here to build on the proud tradition of Texas football and the 16 great years that Mack Brown gave to the program," Patterson said in a statement. "Our committee and former lettermen helped create an extensive selection criteria and after visiting with Charlie, it was clear he met them all."
The 53-year-old Arkansas native coached four seasons at Louisville before leaving for Austin. He had a 37-16 record with the Cardinals, which included a Sugar Bowl victory in 2012 and a combined 23-3 record over the past two seasons.
When Strong entered Louisville the Cardinals were 15-21 the previous three seasons. Under Strong, Louisville did not suffer a losing season and its only loss in 2013 was a three-point defeat to Fiesta Bowl champions UCF.
"I'm excited and my family is excited to have the chance to lead one of the premier football programs in the country," Strong said in a statement. "Texas is one of those places that is always on your radar and a program anyone would dream of being a part of because you have a chance to compete on a national level every year. It's special because it has such great history, pride, tradition and passion for football."
With the hire, Strong becomes Texas’ first black head coach in any of its three major sports – basketball, baseball and football. University president Bill Powers termed the hiring as a significant moment in the school's history.
"This is a historic day for The University of Texas and a historic hire for our football team,” Powers said. “Charlie Strong is one of the best coaches in the country. I'm confident he will continue the Longhorns winning tradition while maintaining the integrity and commitment to students that have always defined our program.”
Strong follows Mack Brown after 16 seasons at Texas. Brown cited a splintering fan base and a needed infuse of new energy into the program as his reason for stepping down.
"It's been a wonderful ride,” Brown said when announcing his retirement. “Now, the program is again being pulled in different directions, and I think the time is right for a change.”
Brown left a lasting legacy in Austin, winning one national championship, two Big 12 titles and lifting the Longhorns to national relevance once again. But Brown posted a 30-21 record over the past four seasons as the program floundered.
It’s now up to Strong to bring Longhorn nation back together.
All of the resources are there; a talent-rich state, the largest athletic budget in the country and the best facilities available.
But the measure of success for Strong will be simple, as he knows – wins.