Coach Strong seeks to be an educator

You could hear just a bit of grumbling coming from Austin when the University of Texas hired Charlie Strong to be the head coach of the school’s football team.

He wasn’t the favorite of some high-powered, well-heeled alumni. They wanted a proven big-time winner to restore the Longhorns to gridiron glory. Strong? Good guy, but can he win?

The jury is still out on the winning part, but he’s embarking on an effort that should get the attention of universities across the nation.

He’s trying to teach the young men of his football program how to become good men.

More power to you, coach!

As the Dallas Morning News blogger Jim Mitchell noted, “I don’t know whether it is possible to teach values to a college athlete if the player didn’t arrive on campus with a pretty clear understanding of right, wrong and personal responsibility. But I’m intrigued that the University of Texas is going to try.”

Strong took over from former coach Mack Brown and began tossing players off his team for what’s cryptically called “violation of team rules.” I was wondering at the outset whether Strong had come to Austin to imbue a certain kind of ethic in the players. One of the dismissed players hails from Amarillo, so it was a bit of a disappointment to see a local athlete caught up in this min-purge.

Strong’s efforts will be comprehensive, according to Mitchell: “Now comes a groundbreaking effort called the Center for Sports Leadership and Innovation, which UT-Austin officials say will ‘leverage UT Austin’s expertise in academics and success in athletics to change the culture at a time when national headlines remain focused on high-profile athletes’ behavior and responsibilities.’”

I absolutely support the idea of reminding these young men that they have responsibilities that go far beyond their athletic exploits. Many athletes view their athletic skill as a sign of privilege. They think they have some God-given right to behave as they see fit. “Normal” rules don’t apply to them. Coach Strong says that’s not the case, that their elevated status requires them to behave properly and to exhibit the kind of life skills that will carry them through the rest of their life.

What is so wrong with that? Not a single thing.

Go for it, Coach Strong.

Leave a Reply