Source: Texas decides to fire Charlie Strong as football coach

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Monday, November 21, 2016

AUSTIN, Texas --Texashas decided to fire Charlie Strong as football coach, according to ESPN's Brett McMurphy and multiple reports.

Strong is 16-20 overall and 12-14 in Big 12 play in three seasons with the Longhorns. If he coaches Friday against TCU, Strong will clinch either a bowl bid or his third seven-loss season.

Strong told ESPN's Kirk Herbstreit on Sunday night that he had heard the reports that he was going to be fired but had not heard anything from the university.

The coach had a regularly scheduled meeting with the team Sunday night and has a regularly scheduled news conference Monday. During a Big 12 teleconference Monday morning, Strong said he would address questions about his future during the news conference.

Texas athletic director Mike Perrin issued a statement earlier Sunday night addressing the reports and saying the university would continue to evaluate Strong.

"There are a number of rumors out there about the status of Coach Strong," Perrin's statement said. "I've said it all along: We will evaluate the body of work after the regular season. We have a game to get ready for against TCU on Friday, and I hope our fans will come out and support our team. We'll discuss where things stand after that."

Strong will be owed a $10.7 million buyout for the remaining two years on his contract, a fee that would be reduced if he takes another job.

The decision to part ways with Strong became inevitable Saturday night after Texas (5-6, 3-5 Big 12) lost 24-21 in overtime to a Kansas team that was 1-9 and had lost its past 19 Big 12 games.

Texas began this season with a dramatic 50-47, double-overtime victory over a preseason top-10 Notre Dame team, a feat that moved the Longhorns from unranked to No. 11 in the Associated Press poll. But that game did not prove to be a turning point for the program; the Fighting Irish are struggling at 4-7.

After losses to Cal and Oklahoma State, Strong demoted his longtime defensive coordinator, Vance Bedford, and put himself in charge of Texas' struggling defense. The Longhorns pulled off an upset victory over Baylor and had an opportunity to finish 8-4 and save Strong's job. But after close losses to West Virginia and Kansas, they are 5-6.

Some Texas boosters were already exerting "extreme pressure" on Texas leadership to move on from Strong and pursue Houston coach Tom Herman, McMurphy reported Saturday.

Texas president Greg Fenves and Perrin publicly offered their support for Strong during the season, and Strong acknowledged last week that Fenves would "take a long look" at the program's progress at the end of the year. But Texas' first loss to Kansas since 1938 seemingly sealed Strong's fate, and he will finish with the worst win percentage of any head coach in school history.

Strong replaced longtime Texas coach Mack Brown in January 2014 after successfully rebuilding Louisville, where he went 23-3 in his final two seasons. Texas went 6-7 in Strong's debut season and lost to Arkansas in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl to end a tumultuous season in which nine players were dismissed from the program and starting quarterback David Ash suffered a career-ending concussion in his first game.

Strong has been coaching through hot seat speculation ever since a 1-4 start to the 2015 season. He demoted offensive playcaller Shawn Watson after a season-opening loss to Notre Dame and struggled through another up-and-down year for a 5-7 finish despite upset wins over Oklahoma and Baylor.

After the season, Strong hired Tulsa's Sterlin Gilbert as his new offensive coordinator and brought in four more new assistants. The Longhorns finally developed a successful quarterback this year, true freshman Shane Buechele, who has thrown for 2,740 yards and 21 touchdowns, and running back D'Onta Foreman (1,863 yards, 15 TDs) leads the nation in rushing.

Despite that offensive talent, Texas came up short in too many close games with losses by margins of three, three, four, five and seven points this season.

Against Kansas, the Longhorns committed six turnovers and blew an 11-point fourth-quarter lead. They are 1-17 when trailing at halftime during Strong's tenure.

ESPN staff writer Max Olson contributed to this report.

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