It might feel like Charlie Strong has already lost his job, and since Texas has indicated it doesn't want to fire a head coach midseason, he might've.
The possibility of a five-game winning streak to close out the season and finish 8-4 would seem to preserve some hope, but dialing that down to a best-case scenario of 7-5 doesn't inspire the same level of optimism.
So, a loss to No. 8 Baylor to fall to 14-19 over two and a half years might be the end, whether it's formalized in October, November, or December.
Every detail of the game presents a further obstacle for Strong (or an opportunity to move even more of the mountain with an upset win, to be fair).
- Most of the Longhorns' most important alumni boosters will be at this game, which isn't usually the case.
- Strong awkwardly praised Baylor a few weeks ago by describing their systems as empowering "lesser athletes," a piece of analysis with some virtue to it, but not one that'll be received well if ABC's announcers are referencing it while the Longhorns are down by 30.
- Texas' biggest problem this year has happened to come in Strong's area of expertise: defense. UT ranks No. 87 in Defensive S&P+. Yeah, Baylor can make a No. 87 defense look really bad.
- It's Baylor. The Bears have clawed deep into the Texas psyche. Baylor isn't supposed to beat Texas in four of six years, and no Texas head coach is ever supposed to lose to an interim named Jim Grobe.
- Recruiting was already wobbly. In the summer, many in-state recruits headed to Oklahoma or indicated they were waiting on Strong's status. There's almost no chance the Bears out-recruit Texas this cycle, no matter who's coaching either side on Signing Day, but an in-state loss would still be costly for UT.
- Baylor's only a 4-point favorite, perhaps because it's played nobody of note, as usual, and hasn't exactly lit up scoreboards. Even if the Horns can knock off an undefeated team to reach .500, it might not feel like all that much of an upset. The pressure to win at Texas Tech the following week (HOO LORD, TTU's offense against Texas' defense) would probably remain nearly as high.
More from Steven Godfrey, on the question of whether the media-averse Strong and the media-saturated Longhorns would both be better off apart:
In the course of securing my interview with Strong, I spoke with a number of boosters, some young and some seasoned, none of whom agreed to go on the record and put their names next to their opinions on Strong. Such is the murky water of Texas.
But they did deliver something of a consensus. For all Mack Brown's coaching faults, he was undefeated at dinner, be it with one booster or 1,000. A week ago last October, one donor told me a story about Brown blowing into his West Texas city on the offseason circuit:
"He would come in to our town once a year, sometimes not even that often because we weren't a big-priority alumni market, and we knew it. That was fine.
"Some years we would get a basketball coach. But when he did, he remembered your name. Every coach comes to town and remembers the high school coach's name, or the guy who owns the whatever factory, but Mack remembered your name. Seriously. He shook my hand one time and asked how my little brother was doing, because we'd both met him at the same event two years before. I'm nobody, I'm just a lawyer.
"Mack would piss you off in Red River [against Oklahoma] and then win you forever in May and June."
That's not Charlie. It never will be.
Card Chronicle, on a pattern of coaches leaving Louisville and then having to think twice about it:
At a press conference leading up to the Cardinals' Belk Bowl game against NC State, Strong recalled a talk he'd had with former UofL head coach John L. Smith years earlier.
"I remember having a conversation with coach Smith when I found out that Tom (Jurich) was considering me, and he told me that leaving Louisville was the biggest mistake he ever made," Strong said. "He told me, 'if you get that job, don't ever leave.'"
Smith was speaking from experience.
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LSU player is so turned up, he says the Tigers will dominate Bama and that he doesn't even care if the Tide pin his comments up on the bulletin board.
NC State's head coach clarifies that he wasn't actually celebrating a headshot that knocked out Clemson's running back.
Apple's MacBook event thing reminds you of that time NC State lost really bad, then changes the channel to that time Arkansas lost really bad.
- Virginia Tech field goal'd its way to glory and command of the ACC Coastal, beating Pitt in a game that'll mostly be memorable for Pat Narduzzi complaining about the officiating. (There were inconsistent calls, but it must be pointed out that Pitt's DBs repeatedly got away with grabbing Virginia Tech's bigger receivers.)
- USC dropped the hammer on Cal early, then cruised.
- Cal coach Sonny Dykes has a point about the Pac-12 scheduling his team for a Friday late-nighter and then for a Thursday nighter on the road.
- App State gave rival Georgia Southern one of its worst home losses ever and remains unbeaten in the Sun Belt.
- Ohio won at Toledo! Weird!
- Oh, most importantly, a nation enjoyed the sight of Pitt's best lineman in his usual bike shorts on the field, and another Pitt lineman took a gosh dang end around for his second TD of the year.
Tonight, from the Week 9 Watchability Grid (all times ET):
|Maybe watch this
|This is a football game
|No. 22 Navy - USF
|San Diego State - Utah State
|Air Force - Fresno State
New Year's impact! Navy is the AAC's last hope to get into the New Year's Six, unless a bunch of wild stuff happens (Boise State, San Diego State, and Western Michigan collapsing; Houston beating Louisville; and maybe more stuff), and it's an 8-point road underdog in this game.