JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
HORSESHOE BAY — Fred Akers is retired from coaching college football, but he still had plenty to say on the subject at an open house at his Horseshoe Bay residence.
The former University of Texas head football coach and his wife, Diane, recently listed their home with Jan and Roy Busse, owner of the Highland Lakes-based Busse Group, part of Keller Williams Luxury Homes International. The couple has lived in the home for eight years.
Akers found the time to talk a little football and reflect on what he does in his retirement.
He laughed when asked what his golf handicap is.
“I wish you hadn’t asked me that,” he said with grin.
He added that he has been traveling across the country to play in charity golf tournaments, most of which focus on helping children.
He praises his wife for keeping him on schedule.
“I’m fortunate I have one of the great coaches’ wives you need to have,” he said.
Akers spent eight years as an assistant on Darrell Royal’s staff in the mid- to late ’60s and early ’70s. He left Texas for two years to be the head coach at Wyoming. He returned as the Longhorns’ head coach following Royal’s retirement after the 1976 season. His first season back, Akers posted an 11-1 overall record and was 8-0 in the Southwest Conference. His team lost 38-10 to Notre Dame in the 1978 Cotton Bowl Classic. Akers coached Texas through the 1986 season. His son, Danny, played for him in the early 1980s as a reserve quarterback.
Now, almost 40 years later, the Texas football program is transitioning again with Charlie Strong taking over after the resignation of the popular Mack Brown in mid-December.
He counts Brown as one of his best friend and added that he looks forward to seeing what Strong can do.
“Mack, I admire,” he said. “I like (Strong) a lot.”
Strong’s and Akers’ hometowns are 14 miles apart. Strong is a native of Luxora, Ark., and Akers hails from Blyville, Ark.
The current Texas coach has many traits Akers admires, he said, which include honesty, integrity, work ethic and commitment to family and Texas football.
“He doesn’t guess about what he’s doing,” Akers said. “He does things, and his players and coaches are his guys. Charlie has done a good job of training defensive and offensive coordinators. They do what their head coach expects them to do. It doesn’t take long to know what Charlie expects, which is good. You don’t want a team in my opinion to have low expectations.”
The former coach likes how Strong met with coaches, players and fans across the state.
“Charlie is learning more about Texas, and he’s not doing that because they’re making him do it,” he said. “He wants to be with the Texas fans, he wants to be at a place where you have players who want to come to Texas and play for him.”
The former coach said training has changed since he walked a sideline. He said there’s fear among coaches and players regarding injuries.
“You keep telling them don’t get hurt. You’re putting the wrong thing in their head,” he said. “They’ve shortened the workouts. I don’t know exactly what they’ve eliminated. They’re doing it in good faith. Doctors are concerned you’re going to have heat exhaustion and concussions. It’s probably a good thing.”
With Royal’s passing almost two years ago, he is now the oldest living former Texas head coach. And that’s a role he’s embracing.
His love for the Longhorns was evident in his home, where bronze longhorn statues and paintings of longhorns were displayed despite the fact he has not coached Texas since 1986.
“It’s a great place to be to get your life in order,” Akers said