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    The barbarians aren’t at the gate yet, but they could be window-shopping for pitchforks and torches in the near future. Charlie Strong walked into this situation possibly the moment he did the Texas two-step away from the University of Louisville.

    Strong once chastised UofL fans by saying “the truth hurts.” The truth is Strong is 7-8 at Texas – arguably the best college football job in America. Texas has one of the wealthiest athletic departments, a rich in-state recruiting base, with a manageable path to the four-team playoff. As an added bonus, Austin is a fabulous city. But will Strong get the time required to revive Texas, the same way he pulled UofL out of the Steve Kragthorpe quagmire? Perhaps the talent isn’t there; the Longhorns may not have a player selected in the 2016 draft.

    Texas’ dysfunctional athletic department is looking for a CEO after firing the unpopular Steve Patterson, who alienated deep-pocketed boosters, university employees and fans. UofL athletic director Tom Jurich stood behind Strong before it paid dividends. Strong was 14-12 his first two seasons before going 23-3 his final two seasons. Will the new athletic director at Texas do the same, especially for a coach he or she didn’t hire? Will the new AD preach patience? 

    Perhaps the better question is: should Strong have taken the job in the first place? In a vacuum, yes, going to Texas is a no-brainer for the aforementioned reasons. But consider this: when football coaches leave UofL for seemingly greener pastures a funny thing happens. They don’t succeed.Over the past two decades of UofL football three coaches have bolted: Howard Schellenberger, John L. Smith and Bobby Petrino. 

    Howard Schnellenberger: In December 1994, The Pipe departed for Oklahoma. You couldn’t blame him. Oklahoma must have looked extremely appealing for Schnellenberger who built the University of Miami from scratch into a national champion and established the platform UofL enjoys today. Schnellenberger quit after one season, going 5-5-1 in 1995.

    John L. Smith: In December 2002, Smith’s departure for Michigan State was the strangest in program history. News of Smith accepting the job broke during the Cardinals’ bowl game against Marshall. Again, you couldn’t blame Smith. It’s hard to turn down a Big Ten job especially considering UofL was in Conference USA at the time. Smith had one winning season in four years at East Lansing before being fired in 2006.

    Bobby Petrino: In January 2007, left to take over the Atlanta Falcons. The Petrino situation is a different from Schnellenberger and Smith for a multitude of reasons. Cardinals fans had tired of Petrino’s constant flirting with bigger colleges (remember the Auburn plane situation?). Petrino didn’t last a full year. He resigned mid-season in December 2007 from a 3-10 team to go back to college (Arkansas). The Falcons’ chances were crippled by the Michael Vick dog-fighting scandal.

    Schnellenberger, Smith and Petrino couldn’t find success after leaving UofL for bigger paychecks. Strong will try to buck that trend.

    Strong’s second year with the Longhorn is off to a rocky start with the season-opening 38-3 implosion at Notre Dame. The offense was so feeble that Strong removed play-calling duties from assistant coach Shawn Watson, who had followed him from Louisville. Beating Rice 42-28 may quiet critics for a while. But the Longhorns still must face California, TCU, Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas Tech.

    Leaving Louisville ain’t easy. Strong is finding out the hard way.


    Michael Grant's picture

    About Michael Grant

    Sports reporter in Louisville. Film buff. Capricorn.

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