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The Red River Rivalry And First Year Coaches | What Does History Tell Us About Charlie Strong's Chances?

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The storied history of the Red River Rivalry stands in favor of Charlie Strong

Cooper Neill

The Oklahoma Sooners and Texas Longhorns met on the football field for the very first time on October 10, 1900. Head coaches Samuel Thompson and Vernon Parrington were the first generals to lead their troops in on the gridiron in what would become one of college football's most storied rivalries. For Thompson it would mark his inaugural year as the Longhorns' head coach and his 28-2 win that day would mark the beginning of a tradition of coaches to win this classic game in their first season. In fact, Oklahoma would have to wait a decade until William Wasmund came around in 1910 to knock of a UT coach in his first season. The Sooners won 3-0 in Austin that year.

On the flip side Oklahoma had to wait until 1905 to get a head coach to beat Texas in his first season. That's when Bennie Owen guided OU to a 2-0 win over UT in a game that was played in Oklahoma City. Owen's feat of beating Texas in his first year hasn't been duplicated that often. Only three other coaches (Jim Mackenzie 1966, Barry Switzer 1973, & John Blake 1996) have won against Texas in their first season as Oklahoma's head coach. The Legendary Bud Wilkinson lost 34-14 in 1947 and Bob Stoops went down 38-28 in 1999.

Oklahoma's head coaches are a paltry 4-14-2 in their first crack at the Longhorns while Texas coaches have a 14-6-2 record in their first appearance against the Sooners. While that's impressive mark of success against Oklahoma, it should also be noted that winning the first game against the border rivals hasn't always been a blessing for the coaches in burnt orange.

Blair Cherry won his first game against Oklahoma in 1947 by a score of 34-14 but then went on to lose the next three seasons against the Sooners. In 1951 he was replaced by Edwin Price who beat OU 9-7 but then went on to lose the five in a row to Oklahoma.

Losing the first game against Oklahoma hasn't necessarily been catastrophic for Texas coaches either. Former Sooner All-American, and Oklahoma native, Darrell Royal took over in 1957 and promptly lost 21-7 to OU in Dallas. He then went on a run in which he led Texas to victory in twelve of the next thirteen seasons. It wasn't until the final two years of the Chuck Fairbanks era and the beginning of the Switzer era that OU swung the momentum back their way.

So what does all of this have to do with the 2014 version of the Red River Rivalry where Charlie Strong is making his coaching debut? The truth is absolutely nothing. However in a year where the Longhorns have struggled to a 2-3 record coming into the game, and have an offense that's ranked 117th nationally in scoring, they won't be lacking in motivation and will be looking to all sources for confidence. Strong knows that, if nothing else, he at least has history on his side.

Seriously, don't downplay that.