Oct 26, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Louisville Cardinals head coach Charlie Strong on the sidelines against the South Florida Bulls during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Longhorns: The Coaching Trees of Charlie Strong and Vance Bedford

One of the best way to understand the approach that a given coach has towards the game of football is to look at who has influenced him along the way.  Coaching trees can get pretty complicated, and some level of simplification is going to be used here to describe the coaching history of the new Texas hires.

The most egregious oversimplification is that coaching trees have a strong bias towards offense, and Strong/Bedford are where they are now because of their defensive chops.  The main principles of coaching influence remain, but the focus in this article will avoid scheme principles, except where they are most relevant.

Charlie Strong

Every single branch of the Strong tree ties back to the University of Florida in some capacity.  Strong spent 16 seasons over three separate stints in Gainesville, so that would make sense.

#1 influence: Lou Holtz/Urban Meyer

This is the strongest branch of Charlie Strong’s coaching tree, as he was initially hired at Notre Dame under Holtz, was then retained by Bob Davie, and then when his contract expired went to work for Holtz at South Carolina.  Strong was already coaching at Florida when Meyer came in and retained him as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator.  Meyer won both national titles (2006 and 2008) with Strong coaching his defense, before he left to be head coach at Louisville.

#2 influence: Steve Spurrier/Ron Zook

Zook was in the NFL as an assistant under Jim Haslett with the New Orleans Saints when Florida brought him back to replace Steve Spurrier, and he was the one responsible for bringing back Charlie Strong to Florida.  Both Strong and Zook coached under Spurrier at Florida in the nineties.  Zook is the closest name to Strong on his coaching tree to be a coach with a defensive background.  They’re not identical from a schematic perspective.  But they’re both pretty multiple in their coverage principles.

#3 influence: Barry Switzer/Galen Hall

Galen Hall was the coach at Florida when Charlie Strong got his start as a graduate assistant, then a couple years later as a defensive assistant.  Hall is an offensive coach, but came from Oklahoma, which had Barry Switzer at a time when Switzer was as recognizable with a single program as any coach in the sport (taking the Cowboys job probably hurt that).

#4 influence: Red Parker/Charley Pell

Red Parker was the coach at Clemson in the seventies, and was not particular successful in that role, but he had Charley Pell on his staff, and Pell was a defensive guy who went on to coach at…well, Florida.  He was there when Strong was hired out of college as a GA.

Vance Bedford

While some of Strong’s influences coached in the NFL, Bedford himself spent time with the Chicago Bears on Dick Jauron’s staff, and was retained in 2004 when Lovie Smith was brought in.  Bedford’s tree has a much more significant Texas flavor to it.

#1 influence: Urban Meyer/Charlie Strong


#2 influence: Lloyd Carr/Bo Schembechler

#3 influence: Dick Jauron/Tom Coughlin

Bedford was hired by Lloyd Carr two different times: his first season as coach at Michigan, and his last season, following Bedford’s stint in the NFL under Dick Jauron and following and with Mike Gundy.

These trees are virtual mirrors of each other, but Coughlin/Jauron play defense at the pro level the way Bo and Lloyd Carr did off the Woody Hayes tree.  A lot of man coverage, cover three, and not such a focus on advanced tactics, rather on execution of core principles.

#4 influence: Mike Gundy/Les Miles

When Gundy was a player at Oklahoma State, his coach, Pat Jones, inherited that job from Jimmy Johnson. Through Miles, the Gundy tree actually intersects with both the Bo Schembechler tree and the Barry Switzer/Jimmy Johnson tree.  This branch got all of the personality on the tree.  If you can only attend one post game press-conference, make it this one.


Vance Bedford and Charlie Strong have plenty of ties to the NFL, and to legendary college football programs.  If you had to describe the primary influence(s) for the Texas defense and the kind of players they will recruit, “Bo Schembechler meets Barry Switzer” is probably a good place to start, although Strong will always be linked to the Meyer-Holtz tree first and foremost.  And when looking for an offensive coordinator at Texans, I would expect them to stay with the spread-to-run philosophy popularized by Meyer, over the pro-style attack that Louisville was running under offensive coordinator Shawn Watson, whose influences are Gary Barnett and Bill Callahan.

Hook’em Headlines is the Texas Longhorns blog for FanSided’s Sports Blog Network. We cover the latest Longhorn news and stories while providing some of the best analysis the web has to offer.
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