What they said with their tears in the locker room after the season’s final loss spoke volumes, but when the news became official Saturday that Coach Charlie Strong had been fired by Texas, Longhorns players took to social media to pay respects.
Many offered thanks and wished the coach well in his still-to-be-determined next endeavor. Others captured, in more detail, what Strong accomplished in his three years that went well beyond a 16-21 record.
“Wins and losses don’t reflect what Coach did for this University,” offensive tackle Tristan Nickelson wrote on Twitter. “I wouldn’t trade the lessons he left us with for all the rings in the world.”
Former Texas fullback Alex De La Torre wrote that Strong “showed me how to fight adversity head-on as a coach by having class, believing in the process and by loving your players.”
Even a player who transferred from Texas before this season weighed in on Strong’s behalf. “He taught me that a young black kid like me could be anything I wanted to be in life if I worked hard,” wrote Ryan Newsome, who left the Longhorns to join Arizona State. “…He taught me so much in not a lot of time.”
The decision-makers who fired Strong — and within hours hired Houston Coach Tom Herman — also offered more than the usual obligatory thanks-for-your-work-but-don’t-let-the-door-hit-you-in-the-backside speak.
University President Gregory Fenves described Strong in a statement as “an outstanding leader and role model who worked hard and with great integrity to move Longhorn football in the right direction.”
Athletic Director Mike Perrin said Strong had “represented The University of Texas with class and dignity, and he demanded our student-athletes do the same by adhering to his system of core values.”
Strong brought discipline and personal accountability to a program that sorely needed it, but he acknowledged in his own statement that it was not enough.
“I do understand that it comes down to wins and losses, and we have not done our job in that area yet,” Strong said. “I accept full responsibility for that, but know in my heart that we accomplished our primary goal, which is the development of young men.”
He added: “There are very bright days ahead, and I’ll be pulling for these kids no matter where I am.”
Win some, lose some
Herman, the offensive coordinator for Ohio State’s 2014 national championship team, had a record of 22-4 in two seasons as Houston’s coach. He was a graduate assistant coach at Texas under Mack Brown.
At Houston, his teams twice defeated nationally ranked Louisville teams, along with top-10 teams from Oklahoma and Florida State.
Those same Houston teams also lost to Connecticut, Navy, Southern Methodist and, on the day before Texas hired him, Memphis.
A record crowd of 110,045 packed into Ohio Stadium for the Ohio State-Michigan game, and we can only imagine what the place known as “The Horseshoe” must have felt like when Curtis Samuel scored on a 15-yard run to give the Buckeyes a 30-27 win.
An earthquake perhaps?
Soon, we’ll know for sure.
Sensors installed at the stadium are allowing geologists to measure the seismic activity generated by cheering fans. The idea was conceived by professors in Ohio State’s School of Earth Sciences in partnership with Miami (Ohio) University and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Vibrations caused by the crowd are recorded by seismographs, which are also used to measure the power of earthquakes.
So far, researchers have found that touchdown celebrations don’t cause the stadium to shake as much as when the music starts up afterward and the crowd moves in unison.
Of course, that was before Saturday.
Navy is supposed to reign supreme in the water, but the Midshipmen’s ground game ruled against Southern Methodist.
In a 75-31 victory, Navy ran 48 times for 496 yards — an average of 10.3 yards per carry — and nine touchdowns by six different ballcarriers.
Navy came into the game third in the nation in rushing, averaging 326.6 yards per game. In fact, the service academies ranked Nos. 2-4 in rushing entering the weekend. Behind New Mexico at 342.1 was Army at 328.9, then Navy and Air Force at 322.8.
The Middies have three more games to play — the American Athletic Conference title game next week, followed by the Army-Navy game Dec. 10 and a bowl game — and its senior class already has won more games (37) in a four-year period than any in academy history.
With a huge game against Duke, Brad Kaaya accomplished a first and took over a first.
The junior out of West Hills Chaminade High completed 22 of 35 passes for 396 yards and four touchdowns to become the first Miami quarterback to pass for at least 3,000 yards in three different seasons. He also took over the top spot on the Hurricanes’ career passing list.
Kaaya has passed for 3,250 yards this season and 9,686 in his career. Ken Dorsey held the previous Miami record with 9,565 yards. Kaaya is seven completions shy of equaling Jacory Harris’ school career record of 703.
Such is the state bowl games:
Not to pick on Maryland, because there are also teams with losing records still under consideration, but the Terrapins are guaranteed a postseason appearance based on a 6-6 record that included a stretch in which they lost six of seven games — including four in a row by a combined score of 191-49.
That losing streak ended with a 31-13 win over Rutgers, a team that has nine consecutive losses, including scores of 58-0, 78-0, 49-0 and 39-0.
So congratulations Maryland!
Surely at some point in his career, Caleb Rowe, a reserve quarterback for Maryland, took a knee at the end of a game. Saturday, he took a knee after the Terrapins knocked off Rutgers. He proposed to Sarah Molina, a former Maryland soccer player. She accepted. … Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley passed for 376 yards and four touchdowns in the Nittany Lions’ 45-12 win over Michigan State. In Penn State’s eight-game winning streak, he has passed for 21 touchdowns with two interceptions.
Los Angeles Times wire services contributed to this report.