Nobody loses their opening press conference. Before you can decide who the USF Bulls have hired in Charlie Strong, keep that in mind.
Nobody fumbles. Nobody loses. Nobody mismanages the clock. There are no interceptions and no dumb penalties and no wasted opportunities. There are no losing streaks.
There is simply a man, a tie and a vision of the future. And lots and lots of strong soundbites.
That said, Charlie Strong nailed it Thursday. His voice was strong, his message was strong, his vision was strong. He talked about recruiting. He talked about education. He talked about the coach before him. He talked about an on-campus stadium.
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Heck, if they kept score for such introductions, Charlie could have been accused of running the score up.
Tell me the truth: How much are you looking forward to the next USF football season? How much do you want to see if Strong can heal the nation's 120th (out of 128) ranked defense? How much do you want to see if he can keep the mojo going with this offense? And even before that, don't you want to see how he recruits? Don't you want to see what kind of staff he assembles? Don't you want to see in which order he wears the team's 97 available helmets?
Oh, Charlie had a couple of gaffes. He almost referred to his team as “South Carolina” before stopping himself. He mentioned Gatorade, then changed it to water.
But he hit all the notes that a USF fan wanted to hear. He said there was no reason this team can't compete for championships every season. He said Taggart had laid the foundation, and that he wanted to build it better. He shrugged off suggestions that his tenure might be brief.
If it was the perfect introduction, you have to wonder if Strong is the perfect hire? His 16-21 record at Texas would argue against that. But it's also possible that Texas is one of the many schools (Notre Dame, Nebraska, Miami) who are chasing their tails in an effort to duplicate the past. Remember Mack Brown's 2009 National Championship? The Horns have lost 42 games (six a year) in the seven years since.
Yeah, Strong could have done better. Maybe, with time, he would have. But time runs short when a team loses to Kansas.
After trading in one Bull for another, Strong has a lot of obstacles to tackle. He has to maintain the offense, or it's his fault. He has to build the defense, or it's his fault. He has to repair his own reputation, or it's his fault. He has to recruit and he has to hire assistants and he has to make Texas fans wonder if they were a little quick on the trigger. He has to put the first brick down toward that new stadium.
Want to know what Taggart really accomplished at USF? He was good enough that the school could hire a man like Strong. He was good enough to measure up to.
In Strong, the Bulls have a coach who didn't win enough at Texas. But the players loved him. They didn't want him to go. Heck, as recently as November, Austin Statesman columnist Kurt Bohls wrote a piece wondering if Strong could get an extension if he had the right finish.
Presumably, it will be that way when Strong leaves USF, too. To where? Who knows? There are schools in Power 5 conferences where you just don't win. (Texas Tech, Purdue, Northwestern, Wake Forest, Kentucky, Indiana, a few other pillow-fighters.) There are schools that are every-now-and-then schools (West Virginia, Oregon State, Arizona, Duke, Dodgeball kind of schools). And there are the premiere jobs (Okahoma, Alabama, Florida, FSU, Oregon, Southern Cal, Ohio State, Michigan, Notre Dame and a few others) that are hard to get to for a coach at USF. There are only so many jobs that a coach such as Strong should aspire to getting.
Still, if he's good, then other schools will sniff around. That's okay. It beats the alternative.
For Strong, it's first down.
Don't you want to see how many yards he gains?