Jason Higdon is as close to Charlie Strong as any reporter is to a coach in the entire recruiting industry. Higdon has covered Strong dating back to his days on staff at Florida, and now chronicles him for Scout's Texas site Horns Digest.
So it definitely raised eyebrows in Austin when, as uncovered by Brian Davis of the Austin American-Statesman, trademarked Strong's Twitter catchphrase "#LetsRide."
A new site -- letsridesports.com, which Higdon has promoted on Twitter -- sells shirts in black and "dark" orange promoting a "#Letsride Initiative."
“Regardless the team, I am in talks with high school football programs in the southeast, little league baseball teams etc,” Higdon wrote on Horns Digest, via the Statesman. “Doesn’t matter if its 13 year olds, 18 year olds or 25 year olds, and regardless of the team they all must have a certain level of commitment. The ‘LetsRide Initiative,’ which means commitment to yourself, to your teammates and your coaching staff is something I came up with. It just kind of evolved into what it is today.”
The issue caught everyone involved flat-footed, so much so that literally no one was willing to speak to the Statesman on the record:
School officials had no comment. Craig Westemeier, who handles licensing and trademarks for UT athletics, did not respond to a message. Higdon did not respond to an interview request from the American-Statesman.
A spokesman for the recruiting network Scout.com, the Horns Digest host site, also did not respond for comment.
Strong was not aware of Higdon obtaining the trademark and selling merchandise, a UT spokesman said.
To be clear, no one is accusing Strong of any wrongdoing here -- unless you're willing to believe he's willing to throw any semblance of integrity away and risk an eight-figure contract in exchange for kickbacks on what will surely be dozens of t-shirt sales.
But it's an uncomfortable association for Strong in a world packed full of uncomfortable associations.