Open Letter to Coach Strong

Coach Strong,

As I am finally getting to sit down and reflect on the past three years, I have a few memories about you that stick out from all the rest.

I will never forget sitting down with you for our first one-on-one meeting at the end of our first spring, and explaining to you how the grade system worked at UT. I remember how upset you were about the whole plus/minus system given the fact that getting an A+ was not possible. I still laugh thinking about your reaction to this day.

I will never forget that one cold morning in February of 2015 when I was pulling up to Moncrief at 5:15 A.M. to get ready for our 5:30 A.M. workout, and you were finishing up a 4 mile run. You literally had sweat dripping off the brim of your cap, and I was confused as to how that was even possible.

I will never forget just a few weeks ago, when we were in the parking lot of our hotel in Lubbock at 6:45 A.M. on the morning of the game doing our final walkthrough. We had a couple of crazy Longhorn fans who somehow found out what hotel we were staying at, and they showed up in the parking lot looking to get an autograph from you. Not only did you go over and sign their memorabilia, but I watched you take a couple minutes just to have a conversation with them, thanking them for their support to our team.

I could honestly go on and on with a list of memories I have during my time here, but I chose these three for a specific reason.

How many head coaches at a major D1 university honestly carve out 10 minutes of their day a couple times per year to meet with every player on the team, walk-ons included? You never made me feel different than any other player on the team, and I cannot thank you enough for that.

How many head coaches get a 4 mile run in every day before we even show up for our workout? And you wouldn’t even stop there, you would actually come in to the weight room and out-lift the majority of the team.

How many head coaches would take a couple minutes, on game day, to appease some insane fans who had basically stalked us? And smile the whole time doing it?

Football has never just been about wins and losses to you, it’s always been more about the life lessons we can learn from this sport.

I had the privilege of coming in at the same time as you, into the same environment as you, and watch you play a part in changing some of my teammate’s lives. I started out around some guys who had no drive or direction in life, and I got to watch you lovingly instill some self-confidence and self-worth into their lives instead.

You created an environment where you challenged us to grow physically, mentally, and spiritually. I know that I, personally, am a dramatically different person than the one I was when I showed up for my first workout almost three years ago, and I hope you know that you have played a part in that transformation by the environment you have built for our team.

Today I get to run out of the tunnel one last time. Thankfully, you will be the one at the end waiting to shake my hand. I could not be more proud of the fact that you were my head coach for the time I got to spend here. Even knowing how the past three years have played out on the field, I would do it all over again if given the chance.

I am proud to be a Texas Longhorn because of the head coach that represents our team.

Let’s Ride,

Connor Huffman