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McCombs says he’s stunned Texas hired Charlie Strong as coach

By Chuck Carlton Dallas Morning News (MCT) • Dec 15, 2015 at 2:10 PM

AUSTIN, Texas — Much of Charlie Strong’s success at Louisville came from a dedicated, out-of-state recruiting base in Florida.

Strong’s philosophy as the new head coach at Texas will be different. He used his introductory news  conference Monday to make a sales pitch.

“Nationally, the Texas high school coaches are king,” Strong said. ”My staff and I will be committed to closing the borders on this great state and making them realize that this is their program. We’ll recruit with fire, and we’ll recruit with passion.

“We’re devoted to making Austin the state capital for college football as well as the state capital of this state.”

Texas currently has the No. 12-ranked recruiting class by Rivals.com, tops in the Big 12 but behind Texas A&M in-state.

Strong said he wants to target Texas first and, “we’ll cherry pick outside the state in Florida because of the ties that I’ve had.”

McCombs unhappy with selection: The hire of Strong received positive, but not unanimous, praise from Texas fans.

One dissenter was billionaire donor Red McCombs, who had lobbied the administration to consider former NFL coach-turned ESPN analyst Jon Gruden.

McCombs described himself as a “little bit stunned” by the news in an interview with San Antonio’s KZDC 1250-AM.

“I think the whole thing is a little bit sideways,” McCombs said. “I don’t have any doubt that Charlie is a fine coach. I think he would make a great position coach, maybe a coordinator.”

Strong was the defensive coordinator on two national championship teams at Florida.

McCombs said he was not contacted about the search, and felt that he and other donors should have been involved.

“It’s a kick in the face. We have boosters who have a lot of knowledge about the game,” McCombs said.

McCombs said he was a “team player” and would support Strong.

Former coach Mack Brown did issue a statement Monday endorsing the selection.

“Charlie’s a man of integrity and character,” Brown said. “I wish him the best. He’s had success everywhere he’s been and he will do a great job at Texas.”

Contract terms: Athletic director Steve Patterson confirmed that Strong has a five-year contract “in the range” of $5 million annually.

He said Texas is working through paying Strong’s $4.375 million buyout at Louisville.

Renewing acquaintances: Strong, a one-time graduate assistant at Texas A&M, was asked about resuming the football rivalry with the Aggies.

The two schools last played in 2011, with A&M then departing for the Southeastern Conference.

“You’d love to,” Strong said. ”There are students who played a number of years and you’d like for that to continue. But it’s so hard now with the different conferences.

“A lot of people don’t want to see that happen right now because of the number of conference games they have to play.”

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