Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

Now or never: It’s time for Sarkisian to prove himself as a winning coach

Connor Steen

In his introductory press conference two and a half years ago, Texas football head coach Steve Sarkisian made it clear that his purpose in coming to the Forty Acres was simple: “I came here to win championships. That’s the goal. We’re here to chase greatness and to win championships. That’s why I’m here.” 

Since Sarkisian’s induction into the University of Texas, it’s been a rocky road for the former national championship-winning offensive coordinator. Texas has gone a combined 13–12 record in its last two seasons, failing to make a bowl game in Sarkisian’s first season and losing to Washington in the Alamo Bowl in 2022. Now, in 2023, Sarkisian’s efforts need to be met with success.

When Sarkisian was brought into Austin in the first few days of 2021, Longhorn football was far from the powerhouse it was in the 2000s. Since a BCS National Championship game loss in 2009, the Longhorns have reached 10 wins in a season just once under three different head coaches. Tom Herman, Sarkisian’s predecessor, was fired after winning only five games in Big 12 play during his last two seasons at Texas. 

On the other hand, Sarkisian joined Texas as one of the nation’s most impressive assistant coaches. Under head coach Nick Saban, Sarkisian’s Alabama offense won a national championship in 2020, earning himself the Broyles Award, which is awarded to the top coaching assistant in the country. Sarkisian played a major part in developing quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Mac Jones, now starting quarterbacks in the NFL. Despite his troubles as a head coach in the early 2010s, the hype surrounding Sarkisian as a head coach was at an all-time high.

But it’s not 2020 anymore, and in two full seasons under the helm, Sarkisian has failed to come close to his word — and it won’t be getting easier after 2023, with Texas and Oklahoma officially leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC conference in 2024. The SEC features the likes of Alabama, repeat national champions Georgia, 2019 national champions LSU, and competitive programs like Texas A&M, Florida and now Tennessee. So in his last chance to win in the Big 12, it’s now or never for Coach Sark to prove himself at the University of Texas.

In college football, most head coaches are given three years to build a promising program, enough time to bring in and develop a full recruiting class and make the team tailored to one’s expectations. In 2023, Sarkisian finally has his team. With just 12 out of more than 100 rostered players predating Sarkisian at Texas, it’s time to finally see what Sarkisian can do with a team he created. 

According to ESPN’s 2023 Football Power Index, Texas is ranked No. 5 in the nation, predicting them to just barely miss the college football playoff. According to Caesar’s Sportsbooks, the Longhorns are by far the majority favorite to win the Big 12 Championship in 2023. Texas is a team constantly hyped up by the outside media, but there’s no denying the talent of this roster on paper. 

So the question is, if not this year, then when will Sarkisian become a winning coach? 2023 is the time to prove it for Sarkisian, and though he has been generally supported by Texas media, failure to win the Big 12 this year would place Sarkisian right into the CFB hot seat and a possible villain in the University of Texas press, a place no coach wants to be. 

Though a firing may seem rash for Sarkisian if he doesn’t deliver, the University of Texas is known for its short leash since Mack Brown departed in 2013. Charlie Strong was given just three seasons after starting very similarly to Sarkisian, and Tom Herman, despite reaching 10 wins in his second season, was given the boot after four years. Now head coach at Florida Atlantic, Herman won four bowl games in a row and never coached a losing season for Texas. 

Though Sarkisian knows better than anyone about the pressure of his upcoming season, his confidence at Big 12 Media Days was apparent and he acknowledged what he must do to win in Austin. He described how everyone on the team made the decision to come to Texas knowing the responsibilities and expectations that come along with being a college football powerhouse. 

With two straight top-five recruiting classes and a weak Big 12 conference schedule in 2023, Sarkisian has reason to be confident. But with talent and opportunity comes ridicule, and it’s no longer a discussion of Sarkisian’s potential as a coach. Sark must find the formula to lead him and his team to victory in 2023, and wasting the talent of an offense featuring projected first-round picks Quinn Ewers, Xavier Worthy and Ja’Tavion Sanders could be the final straw for Sarkisian’s tenure in Austin.

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About the Contributor
Evan Vieth, Senior Sports Reporter
Evan is a junior journalism major and the sports editor for the Texan. He is originally from Washington DC and has covered UT sports for 4 semesters and counting. He has covered the Men's Tennis, Soccer, Baseball and Football teams and had the opportunity to write about the 2023 Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl.