If you look at the numbers alone, it would be very reasonable to believe that Charlie Strong is on the thinnest of thin ice at UT. The Horns are currently 4-6 this season, which has featured horribly botched special teams plays, a blowout to TCU, and a loss to Iowa State. Strong’s Texas was the first team in university history to lose to Iowa State, let alone be shut out completely. In fact, of the 17 head football coaches that have lasted more than one year at Texas, Charlie Strong has the worst overall record of all but one of the coaches–Dana X. Bible, who ended his tenure at Texas in 1938. So, why is Strong still so beloved in Texas? Why did Texas decide to let go athletic director Steve Patterson (a decision that undoubtedly was made at least partially in response to the Longhorns’ poor results on the field) before letting go of Strong?
Strong’s job at Texas is much more than just winning games. Right off the bat, Strong sacrificed potential wins in favor of improving the culture of the football program. He removed nine players from the team and suspended several others, including starters and players with heaps of potential. Not many coaches would take such a drastic risk in the beginning of tenure–Strong isn’t here just to win games; Strong is here to make Texas great again. That said, winning matters, and if not for some freak errors outside of Strong’s control, Texas could have a winning record. If not for a missed extra point, Texas could have completed an epic comeback against Cal. Texas could have, and should have beaten OSU if not for horrid refereeing and a botched punt that gifted OSU a field goal. The positive results of Strong’s work are visible, but not in the numbers alone.
It also helps that Strong is so damn likable, and that somehow, someway, he manage to beat a much stronger OU in the Red River Showdown. For the current generation of Texas fans, Strong donning the Golden Hat after upsetting OU will be an amazing memory for years to come. Wins and losses do not define Charlie Strong, but that win certainly does.