AUSTIN, Texas (AP) –– New Texas coach Charlie Strong has already dismissed and suspended players, and moved his team and coaches into a dorm to live together during training camp.
Now he says it’s time for the Longhorns seniors to take over the team if the program is going to experience the culture change everyone expects after four years without a Big 12 title.
“Our whole attitude has to change. We know that. This program will never change, the culture will never change, until the attitude of the players change,” Strong said Friday at Texas’ training camp media day.
“Right now it’s coming from the coaches,” Strong said. “I told them yesterday the seniors have got to take over the leadership of this football team.”
Strong noted that Texas’ senior class has never won more than nine games in a season. Since playing for the 2009 season national championship, the Longhorns are just 18-17 in the Big 12.
“The culture we stepped into is you look at a team, a group of seniors that hasn’t had a double-digit winning season since they’ve been here,” Strong said. “You can’t feel entitled because you’re at the University of Texas, that `I have arrived.’ At no point have we arrived. No one is ever going to give you anything.
The absence of championship trophies has been deep disappointment for players like senior linebacker Jordan Hicks, a touted recruit from Cincinnati who has hardly played the last two seasons because of injuries.
“We just saw a great senior class leave and not one of the get drafted,” Hicks said. “That should never happen … We haven’t lived up to the potential that we should. This is our last go around and we’re trying to change that.”
Strong created a buzz around Texas with the dismissal of four players last month and the suspension of three potential starters for at least one game. To foster team building, he moved everyone, coaches included, into a campus dorm to live together in training camp.
“There is no suite over there. Our room is just the same as the players. There are two beds and the bathroom is down the hall. It’s good. Our coaches, we need that,” Strong said.
The environment has created close quarters but few laughs among the staff and players who say they are too tired after a long day of practices, team meetings and film study for much interaction.
“It’s not like it’s a pingpong party on the ninth floor,” quarterback David Ash said.
“We’re serious about where we’re trying to take this program,” sophomore offensive lineman Kent Perkins said. “It’s really strict.”
Texas opens the season at home Aug. 30 against North Texas.
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