After posting a record of 16-21 in his three years as head coach, the University of Texas Longhorns fired Charlie Strong this past weekend, but not before paying out nearly $20 million for contract and buyout expenses over the last three years, in addition to paying Strong over $10 million to not coach the next two seasons. But now, instead of a business decision, Strong’s firing is being called “racism.”
Fox Sports analyst Tim Brando insists that Texas administrators never liked Strong, for no other reason than that Strong is African American.
Calling Texas “just anti-Charlie Strong from the get-go,” Brando claimed in a recent SportsDay interview that the whole administration lined up against the coach before he ever even took the field.
“But I got to tell you, from the moment Red McCombs had to reel in his statements about the hiring of Charlie Strong, you could see that there was a cultural problem he was going to have to face in the time that he was there. There’s no getting around that,” Brando said.
Brando recognized that liberal PCism has exhausted college football fans, but nonetheless labeled racism as what held Charlie Strong down at Florida and Louisville and racism that got him fired after three lackluster years at Texas, where, Brando claimed, “the pushback” against him “was immediate.”
The attacks, Brando said, came “from influential people with decimal points on their checks that were way up there. He never was going to get beyond that. I think that the notion that we can just bury our heads in the sand over this is gargantuan. You can’t. Clearly there was an agenda against Charlie Strong the likes of which we haven’t seen of any coach taking a job of that magnitude.”
Finally, Brando opined that Strong hated seeing things going sideways at Texas because his failure may affect other black coaches in the future.
“Charlie hated the fact that he was failing not because his career was going in the wrong direction but because African-American coaches had never gotten an opportunity in college sports as big as his,” Brando said. “And for him not to be successful there meant opportunities for others of color in his mind would not get greater opportunities in the future. I think the burden of all of that was a big problem for him and ultimately became a big problem for his team.”
During the same interview podcast host Kevin Sherrington said that Strong didn’t have the kind of personality for the sort of politics that head coaches need to play when dealing with administrators and school donors.
“And what this guy told me was, you can take David Shaw into River Oaks Country Club and everything would go just fine. He’ll deal with these people and he’ll wow them because he’s a great communicator and he’s a really smart guy,” Sherrington said. “He said you can’t take Charlie into River Oaks Country Club because he’s not going to handle himself the same way.”
Strong received $5 million for the 2014 season as well as a $4.375 million buyout to Louisville for a total of $9.375 million for 2014, according to USA Today. The university paid Strong over $10 million for the 2015-2016 seasons.
The coach will also be paid for the next two years, the remainder of his five-year contract, adding up to an additional $10.7 million or more. As the Austin American-Statesman reported, Strong was set to earn $5.3 million for the 2017 season and another $5.4 million in 2018. Both sums will pay out per Strong’s five-year contract.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at email@example.com.