Charlie Strong Committed to Culture Change

When will the Longhorns get the message? Charlie Strong is not messing around when it comes to his player policy.

Following a week one win against North Texas, offensive tackles Kennedy Estelle and Desmond Harrison were suspended for breaking team rules. Estelle and Harrison were both expected to start this year. Their absence has left the team in a very vulnerable spot, but has also showed Coach Strong's commitment to changing the culture in Austin.

Junior tackle Kennedy Estelle was previously suspended by former head coach Mack Brown prior to last year's Alamo Bowl, but that suspension was reportedly based on academic ineligibility. When Strong took over the team and began to look into players' pasts, Estelle was who received a long look before making the team. He started 7 games for the Longhorns last year and figured to be one of the crucial pieces of the offense prior to his suspension.


Senior tackle Desmond Harrison was one of the players initially suspended during the summer along with safety Josh Turner and receiver Daje Johnson. At 6 foot 8 and 310 pounds, Harrison was looking to be a force for the offensive line after sitting out his one game suspension. However, two days after being reinstated to the team, he was once again suspended for violating team rules.

Coach Strong has made one thing explicitly clear since being hired: this is HIS team. From the second he stepped on campus, he implemented a mandatory set of rules to help create the culture change he is trying to bring to UT. He wants his players to be 100% dedicated to the team, and, if they are not willing to abide by the rules, he has shown little flexibility with his punishments. Strong is a man of character and it is critical to him that his team is comprised of not just good football players, but of young men with high character. It is his view that a very important part of his job is to set the appropriate tone.

"We have core values within this program. We expect our players to abide by those values," Strong told reporters when initially suspending Harrison. "You take away something that's important to them— and football is really important to a lot of these players—and you make sure that with the games taken away from them, they understand how important it is to represent this great university not only on the field but off."

The news of Estelle and Harrison is just the latest in what has been a long line of suspensions and dismissals for the Longhorns. The suspensions are amounting at such an alarming rate, that some believe it is a legitimate concern whether the Longhorns will be able to field a competitive team on Saturdays. With Estelle and Harrison out, the Longhorns not only lack depth, but have also become the most inexperienced offensive line in college football with a combined 10 starts. The suspensions coupled with the loss of senior center Dominic Espinosa has left the Longhorns in a very vulnerable spot.

With all that being said, Coach Strong is a man of his word and will not take the punishments lightly for Estelle and Harrison. Strong has said it since the day he arrived, his most important goal is changing the culture here at Texas. He is certainly off to a good start in that sense. It remains to be seen, however, whether that change can be coupled with a quality win-loss record in 2014.

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