Two straight losses – and a lousy defense – have put Charlie Strong back on the hottest of hot seats. Who are the five best coaching options to potentially replace him?
5 Coaching Options To Potentially Replace Charlie Strong
You’re not getting Nick Saban, Texas fans.
You’re not getting a Harbaugh, and you’re not getting Mike Tomlin, and you’re not getting Jon Gruden.
And no, you don’t want Les Miles, by the way.
Many in the Longhorn world went batspit delusional the last time the coaching search kicked in, setting up an impossible bar for Charlie Strong to get over.
The program had to be completely built up again, and it was and is going to take time. However, this is when the turnaround is supposed to happen, and this is when the defense – Strong’s forte – is supposed to become terrific. Instead, the secondary can’t tackle, and that proved costly in losses to Cal and Oklahoma State.
Notre Dame, schmotre Dame. Texas is 2-2 now with one of the nation’s worst pass defenses, and in a span of two weeks with two losses, the screaming is becoming deafening.
Of course, one win over Oklahoma this week would change all that, but a loss might seal Strong’s fate – fair or not – no matter what else the Longhorns do.
So if Strong really is done, and I’m the Texas athletic director, my list of five coaches I’m thinking about goes something like this …
5. Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots offensive coordinator
I’m at least giving this a look.
McDaniels is either 1) likely the Next Coach Up if and when Bill Belichick is ever done, and/or 2) ready for another NFL job after his rough time as the wunderkind head man at Denver for two years. However, he’s only 40, he’s energetic, and while he’s never been more than a grad assistant at the college level – at Michigan State – he’d be as close as Texas can reasonably get to snagging a B+ list NFL coach to crank up the offense.
Again, other than looking at all the other college coaching retread names, I’m giving this some thought before really looking hard at …
4. Greg Schiano, Ohio State defensive coordinator
Just pencil him in for just about every list of Top 5 Head Coaching gigs I put together over the next several months.
If he’s not Penn State’s next head coach, he’s the guy Texas wants before it really knows it wants him.
There aren’t any Texas ties, but he’s a pro coach who just so happens to have constructed the most dominant defense in college football over the first month of the season. He likes to pound the ball, he likes aggressive, attacking defenses, and he’s more than qualified for the job.
3. Bryan Harsin, Boise State head coach
He’s Tom Herman without the Hot Head Coach tag.
Harsin will take Boise State to 13-0 this season with a second Mountain West title in three years. While no one is saying he’s Chris Petersen quite yet, others passed on a hot Boise State head coach a few years ago, and now Washington is starting to reap the rewards of getting one.
Harsin is going to be a really big deal this offseason, and while he’s a Boise State guy – born in Boise and a quarterback for the Broncos – was was also the hot young guy as a Texas offensive coordinator before taking over Arkansas State.
The problem? His offenses didn’t rock at Texas, and he’s not Herman. He’s also not …
2. David Shaw, Stanford head coach
I despise the checks-all-the-boxes cliche, but he does exactly that.
He’s a relatively young, smart, well-respected coach with three Pac-12 championships, another North title, two Rose Bowl wins, and a track record with four 11-plus win seasons in his first four years at a place with way too many restrictions to have that kind of success.
He’s not a Texas guy in any way in terms of his resume – he’d be a far better fit for USC – but he’s got NFL experience, and he’s got the tough guy offensive mentality to have created a factory on The Farm for pounding running games and hard-nosed defenses.
And yes, Texas replacing Strong with another African-American head coach would be a positive in every way.
The downside? The NFL is going to want him. Texas is Texas – it’s not the NFL. He might be too good for Texas. Shaw – even if Stanford has a down year – can write his own ticket.
1. Tom Herman, Houston head coach
This is the job he seems ready for, and this is one of the few guys Texas fans would be head over heels to get.
He’s actually not a Texas guy, but he’s become one after coaching in the state for a good portion of his career. The offensive coordinator at Iowa State and Ohio State before taking over the Houston gig, he’s turned the Cougar program into something playoff-worthy, and himself into the hottest of hot coaching names.
However, remember, it all looked great for Kevin Sumlin at Houston, too, and it’s been a bit of a rocky road at times at Texas A&M. Also, Charlie Strong did wonders at Louisville before getting the Texas gig. But here’s the difference – at least in terms of Strong – the pieces are in place now. Strong started putting the pieces back in place, and if he’s gone, Herman isn’t starting from Square One.
He’d be expected to produce big, big things immediately. There would be no honeymoon period – especially considering Strong didn’t get one.