The twitterverse and interwebs are going to go into thermal runaway with Texas booster Red McCombs. McCombs, who has donated more than $100 million to the Austin institution and has a statue inside Darrell Royal Texas Memorial Stadium, said during a radio interview that he felt the hire of Louisville’s Charlie Strong was like a “kick in the face.”
He doesn’t mention race as a factor at all. Rather, McCombs’ reasoning is that while Strong is a very good coach, he’s not suited to run what McCombs believes is one of the country’s premier football programs. He seems to think that Strong is getting in over his head.
That is perfectly reasonable, and there are numerous examples of college football head coaches getting into programs that they were woefully ill-prepared for. See Mike Shula at Alabama. See Gene Chizik at Auburn. Ray Goff at Georgia. Rich Rodriguez at Michigan. Franchione at Texas A&M. The list is nearly endless.
But the national media isn’t going to buy that line at all. Any time an old white guy criticizes the hiring (or the election) of an African-American, regardless of how well articulated the old white guy’s logic is, it’s racism.
The narrative coming out of the media will be that Red McCombs is a racist bigot. The furor will likely die down quickly—long before McCombs is proven dead on or dead wrong. Strong is a fine coach, and I frankly believe he’ll be successful at Texas. He has a reputation for toughness, discipline and physical football, characteristics long missing from Longhorn football under Mack Brown. But Texas is a big school, with many different influence peddlers like McCombs working both publicly and privately to steer the athletics programs. The task of rebuilding a powerhouse in that environment is a tall order for any man, including one whom I admire like I admire Charlie Strong. Hell, I’m not so sure that Nick Saban could gain the level of success at Texas that he has at Alabama, and maybe he knew that all too well himself (they did go after him, hard, fast and strong. Make no mistake about it).
Let’s assume briefly that Strong does his level best and still doesn’t rise to the expectations of the Longhorn fans and power brokers. What happens then? What will the narrative be, in such a scenario?
Well, of course it will be because of all the old white guys with deep pockets who tried to derail the program led by its first ever African-American coach. Those damned obstructionist racists!
This narrative is repeated in politics and in popular culture, which has contributed to a society programmed to believe that any criticism of a black man in a high position is because of the racist bigotry of the critics.
I hate that, but that’s the truth.
I hope Charlie Strong thrives at Texas. I think he has the coaching acumen and experience to make it at that level. I believe Texas will win a Big XII championship or three, make a high-tier bowl appearance or three, and be in annual contention for a National Title. He’s that good. He didn’t have all of the resources he needed at Louisville to accomplish such things, but he will at Texas.
That said, I understand McCombs’ reasoning as well. It’s a fair argument, but it’s going to be shouted down by the sacred cowists in the increasingly liberal, outrage-expressing national media.