Charlie Strong was officially fired this Saturday after three seasons with the Longhorn football program, because, as Athletic Director Mike Perrin explained, his “body of work over three seasons has not shown the improvement we were hoping for.” That’s the official story, anyway. Chuck F’n Strong has his own version of events, which involves a fight to the death with mega-donor Red McCombs. Strong, in this retelling, won, only to be foiled by an errant cupcake, which ultimately brought the coach to his untimely end through carbohydrate shock. Sort of. Chuck F’n Strong, according to this story, is now an angel guiding the team.
And in a way, there was a reincarnation over the weekend. Chuck F’n Strong—the former head coach’s unsanctioned Twitter alter ego that has given Texas fans at least something to smile about in the past few seasons—is continuing on in his new iteration: Tom The Herman. Where Strong’s tweets demonstrating blissful unawareness about repeated losses or general football strategy left off, Tom The Herman picks up with an unabashed Jenga obsession and indications that he might actually be an alien.
FYI reincarnation is real because @TomTheHerman
— Chuck F'n Strong (@ChuckFnStrong) November 27, 2016
Texas Monthly sat down with the two “unfettered and unfiltered” fake coaches with the hopes of understanding what’s next for the Longhorns after the dramatic shake-up. What we got was an idea about the ongoing transition of power and a lot of talk about Jenga. A lot.
Note: This interview has been edited for “clarity.”
Abby Johnston: Hey, coaches. How are y’all?
Chuck F’n Strong: I’m an angel now.
Tom The Herman: I’m good.
AJ: Coach Strong, I think that might be a big dramatic. But I’m sure it was a pretty weird Thanksgiving for both of y’all with this news. Hopefully you both at least got to enjoy the holiday with your families.
CS: Well I always said that I could never be fired. And it was true I had to fight Red McComb in hand-to-hand combat and I won, but he dropped this cupcake in my mouth by happenstance and I died of carb-shock so I’m an angel now. But yeah, Thanksgiving was great.
TH: My family got KFC, which is like Thanksgiving any day you want Thanksgiving.
AJ: Can y’all both tell me a little bit about the transition? It seemed to have happened pretty quickly, but I’m wondering if y’all knew more than the public did as far as a timeline with talks about the coaching position.
CS: Yeah you can sure say it happened pretty quickly. One day I’m whipping the crud out of TCU on the football field, next day fired. Can you believe that?
TH: They called me two weeks before the TCU game and offered the job.
AJ: Coach Strong, we got hammered by TCU. I’m wondering if that was the final straw before your firing or if that was already in place, which Coach Herman seems to indicate was the case.
CS: First of all, did you see the way Gary Patternson was sweating? No way he won that game sweating like that. That was the sweat of a loser. So like I said, we beat TCU and then next thing I know they say that they hired Tim Herman.
AJ: Tom Herman, coach.
TH: Like I said, I already have a suite at the Jenga building downtown. Signed the lease last week. [Editor’s note: The “Jenga Tower,” also known as The Independent, isn’t set to open until 2019.]
CS: Tim Tom Tom-Tom, whatever. Good luck with him. He looks like a catfish noodler.
AJ: Now, Coach. That seems like a bit of hard feelings there. And Coach Herman, it seems like there were some hard feelings with LSU, too. I know you were in talks with them. Tell me a little about what happened and what led you to ultimately go to Texas.
TH: Sure, happy to. What we did, you see, is we purposefully released information on the meeting with LSU (where I would never, ever be caught dead coaching. I mean, Baton Rouge is literally French for red stick.), in order to force Texas’s hand. It worked, of course, because the Texas administration is easier to manipulate than Jenga.
AJ: You’ve been talking a lot about Jenga, coach. Are you a fan?
TH: Am I a fan of Jenga? Is Gwen Stefani the greatest artist of the last two hundred years? Yeah, I guess you could say I’m a fan of Jenga.
AJ: Does the strategy involved in Jenga relate to football in any way for you, coach?
TH: Jenga isn’t just a game, it’s a concept, a philosophy, a strategy, a code of ethics, a love manual, and a muse for the arts. Football is in there somewhere too.
AJ: What’s the biggest way you think Jenga could, possibly, apply to the job you’re taking on at Texas.
CS: Please stop talking about Jenga.
TH: Happy to answer . . . You see, the tower at UT is very Jenga-like. So I think that’s the biggest way it would apply to the job.
AJ: Jenga-like in that it’s basically a long rectangular structure?
TH: Sure, in layman’s terms. Technically, it’s an elongated three-dimensional box, with a smaller, elongated three-dimensional box on top. The tower, that is. Jenga is just a box.
AJ: Right. Well, moving from Jenga to other tactical playing, let’s talk a little bit about the transition of power. Coach Strong, do you plan on sitting down with Coach Herman to talk about the coaching staff, recruiting, or anything else that could be left on the table?
.@InsideTexas who are my silent recruits? Need to know pls.
— TomTheHerman (@TomTheHerman) November 28, 2016
CS: All I’ve ever cared about are these kids. You know, that gets lost in the glow of our three undefeated seasons. All of those wins don’t overshadow the work we did to build these kids into men. So when it comes to Tim-Tom, I filled him in on everything from why we have no smoothie bar (it breeds weakness) to who we are recruiting (errbody).
AJ: Coach Strong, you definitely did not have three undefeated seasons, but you bring up a great point. I’m wondering, Coach Herman, if you are intimidated in any way about the bond that Charlie Strong had with his players. I know that there was talk of a player boycott of the TCU game when news emerged that he might be fired. Is that an intimidating situation to walk into?
TH: Look, Charlie was—and is—exceptionally close to his players. That is certainly a situation I have to manage. Heck, he’s got like six or seven of his own sons on the team. There’s Malik, maybe some others. So they’re very loyal to him. But as you might have heard, I have ways of ingratiating myself to my players via generous cheek-kissing.
AJ: Yes, I was curious about that. I sort of thought of it as a commentary about taking the masculinity out of football, but are you saying that you’re using kisses on the cheek as a form of bonding as well?
TH: People being afraid of cheek-kissing by men is what is taking the masculinity out of football. We’ve been bottom-tapping for years. No one ever had a problem with that.
AJ: Right. So are you making some sort of social statement with the cheek kisses, or is it nothing more than affection to promote a closer bond?
TH: It’s my own display of affection toward these guys. If it has a social impact and changes perception, that’s fine too. Can we talk more about Jenga?
.@CoachSumlin Hey Kevin they hired me over at Texas so looks like you're safe this year. Hit me up for some Jenga.
— TomTheHerman (@TomTheHerman) November 28, 2016
AJ: Maybe later, Coach. Coach Strong, any advice to Coach Herman on how to connect with these players at the level you have?
CS: If I thought kissing Kris Boyd would get him to take the inside leverage on a post route don’t you think I would have done it?
AJ: That’s for you to answer, coach. But what really connected you to those players in such a powerful way?
CS: I never lied to them. They knew I cared for them. It’s that simple. Oh—I also wear Birkenstocks, which they all pretty much thought were pretty incredible.
AJ: So the sartorial choices were important, along with trust building. I know Coach Herman had a grill made in Houston. What’s the Austin equivalent of that?
TH: I’m trying to figure Austin out right now. It’s way different than when I was here before. Now you go to dinner and no one eats. Nobody. They just take pictures of their food and leave. They just leave! The food is right there to eat and they take their picture and roll on. So I haven’t paid for a meal yet. Not because I’m the coach, but because I just walk over to the table and sit down and eat their food. But back to the question. I guess the Austin version of a grill is probably like a breakfast taco.
AJ: Wait. But how do you wear a breakfast taco, coach?
TH: Ask those hipsters. I don’t know. Look I’m a simple football coach/Jenga champion.
AJ: Coach Strong, any thoughts on what Herman’s new accessories to match Austin?
CS: I’m Charlie Strong not Charlie Fabio Armani Gucci.
AJ: Fair enough. So looking toward the future for you, Coach Strong, what’s next? And with all of the coaching staff questions up in there air, is there any way that you, Coach Herman, would consider taking Strong on as a defensive coordinator? Vance Bedford’s been tenuous at best with his demotion earlier this season.
CS: Let me be clear. I’m coaching this team now through my angel-ghost telekinesis. Tom-Tim-Tom Tom is my medium. I speak through him. I’m an angel. I have these powers. How am I talking to you right now, Abby? That’s right. Angel transcendent communion.
TH: Well, I just can’t follow that really. On my staff, they are still coming together. Do you know Jesper The Finger Tompkins? I’m thinking about him for defensive coordinator.
AJ: I’m not familiar with Jesper The Finger Tompkins. Who is that?
TH: Wow, okay. The Finger Tompkins is only the most famous international Jenga champion of all time. Well, this is awkward.
AJ: I apologize, coach. So you’re thinking of taking on a Jenga champion as DC? That seems like an unconventional move.
TH: Can you think of a reason not to bring more Jenga experience into the fold? Do you think Bob Stoops would know how to counter a bottom third diagonal block-pull if I ran that on second and long?
AJ: I guess I’m not entirely sure on how that relates to football. Pulling blocks from a pile of other blocks doesn’t seem to translate directly to defensive tactics. To me, at least.
TH: Defensive theory, much like Jenga, has many levels, Abby.
CS: This is stupid. Jenga?
— Chuck F'n Strong (@ChuckFnStrong) November 28, 2016
AJ: Well, coaches. Any parting words to each other? I feel lucky to have you both in the same space, so I’d love to hear any kind of advice or anything you’d like to say to each other in this contentious time.
TH: I have nothing but respect for Coach Strong. He built this roster from nothing. I mean, I love Mack Brown, but he hadn’t recruited in like three years. Strong had to rebuild everything.
CS: If I wasn’t an angel, I’d chokeslam you, Tim Tom Tom. Respectfully.
AJ: I’m not sure if that’s fair, but let’s hope that both non-corporeal and corporeal forms of you both have a peaceful transition of power.
CS: I’m not in the military, no need to call me corporal.
TH: Thank you for the opportunity, Abby. My Galaxy-Lords on Tarcuula-9 will be very happy I have ingratiated myself to the people of earth in my role as a sports coach.
AJ: Coach. Hold on.
AJ: That’s a lot to process at the end of an interview.
AJ: Are you saying you are somehow being influenced by aliens?
TH: Oh, did I say something weird? I blacked out for a minute.
CS: He’s an alien! I’m an angel!
AJ: Well, we’ll look forward to parsing all of this out in the future.
TH: ONCE THE HARVEST OF HUMANS IS COMPLETE TARCUULA-9 WILL ONCE AGAIN FLOURISH. Abby, I may have narcolepsy.