DALLAS — First the president, now the athletic director. All the critical University of Texas administrators still support coach Charlie Strong.
Texas athletic director Mike Perrin told a small group of reporters Friday that he supports Strong, although the defense has been “troublesome” and “to have troubles in the kicking game bothers me.”
“I want to see an improved program,” Perrin said.
Still, Perrin said there is no magic number of wins required, although many believe the Longhorns (2-2, 0-1 Big 12) must win seven or eight games during the regular season for Strong to keep his job. Strong is 13-16 in his three-year tenure going into Saturday’s game against No. 20 Oklahoma.
“We’re going to have young players that make mistakes, sometimes get in the wrong place or don’t execute,” Perrin said. “But I feel real good about the people we’ve recruited the last two years, and the coaches have succeeded at every level. So I remain very excited about football — I really do.
“It’s October the 7th, and we’ll be playing for two more months,” Perrin added. “So we’ve got a lot of football ahead of us. Like any season, there’ll be some injuries, some misfortune, but there will be some big plays that are positive. So I haven’t given up on the football team or any aspect of it.”
Perrin’s comments come two days after UT President Gregory L. Fenves tweeted his support for Strong. A university source told the American-Statesman that Strong would not be fired in midseason. No coach of any major sport has been dismissed in midseason in the university’s 133-year history.
Times have changed, though. On Monday, Texas megabooster Red McCombs indicated he would support a midseason coaching change.
Asked if he would consider changing coaches as LSU did in September, Perrin said, “That’s something I’ve never considered.”
Some fans want a change now, especially after Texas looked dreadful defensively in a 49-31 loss to Oklahoma State after a bye week. The Longhorns are allowing 38.3 points per game, the highest total in the Big 12 Conference.
“I do get some comments and email and things not in favor or Charlie Strong,” Perrin said. “I get more in favor of him. Not that I’m going to blow in the favor of winds of public opinion. It’s a decision I take very seriously every time something comes up to look at what’s best for the University of Texas and what’s best for our student-athletes. That’s the way I’ll function. What is the best decision?”
Perrin did not seem to have any issues with Strong demoting defensive coordinator Vance Bedford. Last season, Strong demoted offensive play-caller Shawn Watson after the season opener. Strong has demoted, fired or replaced eight assistant coaches during his tenure.
“He’s the head coach, and certainly I would expect him to make those changes he sees within his staff,” Perrin said. “He’s a very disciplined and hardworking man. That was his decision to make, and I support him on that.”
One other issue Perrin addressed was the idea that he’s not in full command of Texas athletics.
“Sports Illustrated called me a place holder,” said Perrin, who was named the interim AD in September 2015 but had the interim tag removed in December. “I certainly don’t feel I’m a place holder. Nobody around the campus treats me like a place holder. I don’t act like a place holder. Until I’m told otherwise, I’m the men’s athletics director at the University of Texas.”
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