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Texas brass fly to Tulsa for Sterlin Gilbert as Charlie Strong hears support

AUSTIN, Texas -- In a surprise escalation of the efforts to revive Texas' struggling football program, Texas president Greg Fenves, football coach Charlie Strong and athletic director Mike Perrin flew to Tulsa, Oklahoma, Friday night in an effort to woo Golden Hurricane assistant coach Sterlin Gilbert to be the Longhorns' offensive coordinator. He reportedly turned down an offer earlier Friday to join the Longhorns, according to ESPN's Gerry Hamilton and multiple reports.

Details of the meeting with were not immediately available but video footage showed Gilbert meeting with the Longhorns entourage outside of a Tulsa home.

A university spokesman did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment.

The struggles to hire a top assistants have raised questions and anxiety among Texas fans about their program's stature within the Big 12 and nationally.

On Friday, multiple reports had Gilbert initially ready to accept the job, only to reverse course and stay with the Golden Hurricane. Strong initially interviewed TCU co-offensive coordinator Sonny Cumbie, who turned down an offer from Texas to stay with the Horned Frogs.

Gilbert is the co-offensive coordinator at Tulsa but isn't the lead playcaller. Tulsa (6-6) faces Virginia Tech (6-6) in the Dec. 26 Camping World Independence Bowl.

California offensive coordinator Tony Franklin reportedly has been in the mix as a candidate as well.

Earlier Friday, after reports surfaced that Gilbert turned down Texas, Fenves tweeted his full support for Strong, adding "I am committed to helping him move Longhorn Football forward."

Perrin, who was initially brought on as interim athletic director in September and given the permanent job earlier this month, also has stated full support for Strong.

A university spokesman said the president felt compelled to respond after reports and fan reaction on web sites started blaming school administrators for Strong's difficulty revamping his staff.

Strong will get "whatever he needs to bring in the right coaching staff," university spokesman Gary Susswein said without elaborating.

Next season, Strong will be in the third year of a five-year contract that pays more than $5 million per year. He has been interviewing candidates for offensive coordinator to rejuvenate one of the worst offenses in the Big 12. He stripped offensive coordinators Shawn Watson and Joe Wickline of their play-calling duties after one game this season. Receivers coach Jay Norvell called plays for the final 11 games of Texas' 5-7 season.

Since playing for the national title after the 2009 season, Texas is 41-35. Strong is 11-14 in two seasons.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.