But for all its wealth, Texas has struggled to deliver a championship legacy that lives up its sense of grandeur.
Brown won just two Big 12 titles, while his archrival across his northern border, Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, won eight. Texas’ lone national championship in 44 years pales in comparison to Alabama’s three from 2009-12.
And the recent drop-off that started with a 5-7 record in 2010 got ugly by the end. When Texas started last season 1-2, some Texas fans even booed a public service announcement from Brown encouraging donations to charities.
The turmoil also exposed on a national level the political fighting that embroiled the university and attempts by some school officials and prominent supporters to push Brown out a year ago.
For more than two years, university regents have been fighting over whether to fire school President Bill Powers, who had been a key ally of Brown. Some of the same regents also were involved in talks with Alabama coach Nick Saban’s agent in January 2013 in efforts to coax Saban into coming to Austin.
That Strong will be the first African-American head coach of a men’s program at Texas is significant at a school that resisted integration in the 1950s and ’60s and had college football’s last all-white national champion in 1969.
“This is a historic day for The University of Texas and a historic hire for our football team,” Powers said.
Until 2010, Texas had a residence hall named after former law school professor William Stewart Simkins, a Confederate colonel who also was an early organizer of the Ku Klux Klan in Florida after the Civil War.
Texas is still fighting legal battles over race. Only now the school wants to keep an affirmative action admissions policy that allows the school to consider race for some applicants.
But former Texas women’s track coach Bev Kearney, who was pressured to resign in 2013 after revelations of a relationship with one of her athletes, has filed a discrimination lawsuit against Texas, arguing race was a factor in her case. Kearney is black.
In 2009, just before he was hired at Louisville, Strong complained that he’d been passed over for another job in part because his wife is white. Strong said it was difficult to leave Louisville, the school that was willing to give him his first head coaching job.
“They have been great to me and my family, and it was very hard to say goodbye,” Strong said. “But they know this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”