Charlie Strong is in an unusual place as a coach, and he could shake up this winter's coaching carousel.
After four seasons in Louisville, Strong took the job at Texas. He went 6-7 last year, and he's sitting at 3-5 this year. He should move to 4-5 this weekend with Kansas on deck, but his final three games are at West Virginia, Texas Tech, and at Baylor. The Longhorns won't beat Baylor, so they'll have to get both the games against the Mountaineers and Red Raiders to become bowl eligible.
It looked a month ago like he was going to get things turned around after beating Oklahoma, but last weekend's 24-0 loss at Iowa State erases any goodwill from the Red River Shootout. UT has been awful on the road, also losing 38-3 at Notre Dame and 50-7 at TCU. If you follow the pattern and chalk up the game in Morgantown a loss, then the 'Horns aren't going to make a bowl.
On top of all of that, the AD who hired him is gone. From the sounds of it, working for Steve Patterson wasn't that great anyway. However, ADs are notorious for wanting their own guys. Texas has a history of giving guys at least five years, as the last guy to get fired before that length of tenure was E.J. Stewart in 1926. If the program brings in a new AD to shake things up and get up with the times, though, part of that could be having a quicker hook for the head coach. There is some uncertainty there as well.
Even before the crushing loss to Iowa State, Strong was already getting asked at press conferences about his potential interest in the Miami (FL) head coaching job. Including his time as a GA, Strong had four separate stints working at the University of Florida. He has deep recruiting ties in the Sunshine State, to the point that he still signed several blue chip recruits from there while running the flagship program of the state of Texas. If Strong doesn't like the way the wind is blowing in Austin, Miami could be a logical place for him to potentially go.
I would contend that it's not his only option. Strong was defensive coordinator at South Carolina from 1999-2002, and it might prove to be an enticing place. Miami is infamously cash strapped, so the SEC Network income should make it easy for the Gamecocks to outbid the Hurricanes. I don't know if the school could or would match the $5 million a year he's getting from Texas, but it should be able to get at least 80% of the way there without sweating it. It's in the SEC, and the program really upgraded its facilities during the Steve Spurrier era. Things may have fallen off on the field the past two seasons, but off the field, the place is in great shape. The on-field stuff is nothing that Strong's coaching ability and a few blue chippers from Florida couldn't fix.
The most likely scenario is still Strong remaining at Texas. It's one of the premier jobs in the country, and it'd be hard to give that up. The fact that he'd have to take a pay cut to go anywhere else doesn't help either. His first two years at Louisville were pretty mediocre—including losing home games to FIU and Marshall in his second—but things took off in his third when he won 11 games. Having Teddy Bridgewater certainly helped there, but the point is that he's proven before that his first two years aren't necessarily indicative of his ceiling at a job. He won't win 11 next year at Texas, but if he wins, say, nine games, then things will appear to be on track.
But every so often, there will be a coach who shakes up the coaching carousel by unexpectedly leaving a job. A few years ago, it was Bret Bielema. This year, it could be Charlie Strong.