There has been a lot of banter recently about Charlie Strong leaving Texas to take the Miami job. It's been loud enough that the coach denied the rumors Wednesday at a press conference.
On its face, this seems ridiculous, as Texas is a top five job and the Miami job probably isn't top-20. But while leaving for the Miami gig might not be the best decision, it could actually work out for Strong, Texas and Miami. This is not to say that any of this is going to happen, but Strong is very likely to be 11-14 or 10-15 in his first two seasons at Texas and his future in Austin is quite uncertain.
Since the turn of the century, if a coach is going to win a national title, it's almost certainly going to come during his first five years at a school. Strong would have to have a major reversal of fortune to make that happen at Texas during that time frame, and for it to happen at all, Texas is going to need to show uncommon patience for a program with almost unlimited resources.
Recruiting has been a problem
Strong is simply not recruiting at a national championship level. Teams that win national titles bring in more four- and five-star signees than two- or three-stars. Mack Brown failing to develop that talent may have jaded Texas fans to the accuracy of recruiting rankings, but there's a level that national champs hit, and Strong has not met it through two classes (22 four- and five-stars, 29 two- and three-stars).
The 2016 class is not on track, either, ranking just sixth in the Big 12 and 50th nationally. Coaches who succeed generally take advantage of early hype and momentum, and Strong has little remaining.
Could the young talent on Strong's team take major steps and produce a Big XII champion in 2016? Sure. But it doesn't seem likely, which means Strong could be sitting on a seriously hot seat rather quickly.
For whatever reason, Texas chose to not put a buyout in Charlie Strong's contract, other than the remaining salaries of his assistant coaches. He's due to make $15 million in the 2016-18 seasons in Austin, but if things continue to go poorly, the chance he gets a second contract is slim.
The 'Canes would be ecstatic
Miami would obviously love to have Strong, as he rebuilt the Louisville program after Steve Kragthorpe left it in shambles. Strong did this in part thanks to excellent recruiting in the state of Florida, including signing Teddy Bridgewater. Strong's connections to the Sunshine State remain, well, strong. He could upgrade Miami's roster and bring championship-caliber defense to a Hurricanes program that has not been stout on that side of the football in a while.
Strong could also demand some serious long-term security in Miami, even if it is at a lower per-year amount than Texas could offer. Expectations are also much lower at Miami. With that long-term security, Strong could build the program at a more reasonable pace than the pressure of Texas allows, implementing his core values. And maybe in his time there he could convince Miami to make a true commitment to spending the money it takes to win in modern college football.
Texas would still be Texas
There could be benefit for Texas in this, too, as if it were to terminate Strong it would owe the entire remaining amount on his contract (roughly $15 million after the 2015 season, $10 million after 2016). Sometimes a coach looks great on paper but is simply not a great fit, and this might be the case for Charlie Strong.
If Texas wants to go in a different direction, having Strong reach the decision for himself represents a huge financial savings. Hiring a new coach could restart the hype machine that is so helpful in recruiting, and the new coach would likely inherit a program with better standards than Strong inherited from Mack Brown. And elite coaches would jump at the chance to coach Texas, just as Strong did when he left Louisville.
It's too early to say that Charlie Strong won't work out at Texas, but it's not crazy to note the advantages a move to Miami could have for all parties involved.
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