During his first public off-campus appearance since taking the Texas job, new coach Steve Sarkisian explained why he made the move.
He shared a story of calling his parents on Jan. 2 to deliver the news to them before it was splashed everywhere. In that moment, his father, Seb, recounted a 22-year-old conversation in which he asked Steve, who was then just beginning his football coaching journey, what he considered the best job in America. Yep, he’d said Texas.
Sarkisian, during his May speech to roughly 250 Houston-area fans and alumni, rattled off other tried-and-true talking points that often accompany the Longhorns’ job description: A rich history with great teams and players. Iconic uniforms. A passionate fan and alumni base. A standard of excellence.
That standard, though, hasn’t been met in more than a decade. It’s why Sarkisian is the Longhorns’ third head coach since Mack Brown’s tenure ended in 2013, with Texas having last played for a national championship in 2009.
“When you take a job like Texas, I think you have to recognize the level of expectations and the standard for which we’re expected to operate,” Sarkisian told The Athletic recently. “That’s why I took the job.”
The former Alabama offensive coordinator steps into a job with significant pressure. Charlie Strong got three seasons before he was fired. Tom Herman got four. After going an impressive 101-16 from 2001 to 2009, the Longhorns are just 78-60 since. Five current Big 12 teams have better winning percentages in that same span.
And though Herman was fired, the job shouldn’t be viewed as a rebuild. The Longhorns went 32-18 the last four years, 7-3 last season (with all three losses by eight or fewer points) and have three top-10 recruiting classes in the last four years. Sarkisian’s charge is to elevate them back to championship contention.
The perpetual question is, “Will Sark get it done?” It’s impossible to know, but Texas leadership is betting six years and $34.2 million that he will.