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Texas donor bashes hire of Strong

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A billionaire donor to the University of Texas says the hire of new football coach Charlie Strong was like a ''kick in the face.''

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Red McCombs has donated millions to Texas, and his name is on the north side of the football stadium. He publicly lobbied for Texas to hire Jon Gruden.

Hours after Strong was introduced Monday at a campus news conference, McCombs, the former owner of the Minnesota Vikings and the San Antonio Spurs, complained to KZDC-AM in San Antonio that he was ignored in the coaching search.

''I think it is a kick in the face,'' McCombs said. ''Beyond the fact of what actually happened. We have boosters that have a lot of knowledge about the game.''

McCombs said prominent donors had a lot of input when Texas hired Mack Brown in 1997. This time, the coaching search was led by new athletic director Steve Patterson.

McCombs said Texas got the selection ''wrong'' and that Strong would be a good position coach or coordinator. He later said he would support Strong and wished him well when they spoke by phone Sunday night.

Patterson said Tuesday that Strong was the best choice. McCombs did not immediately return a telephone message.

''Like in any large, diverse organization there will be varying opinions,'' Patterson said. ''The job of a senior executive is to take all of those views into account and made the best decision for the organization as a whole. And we did that in this case.''

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