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

The next national champion is still unknown, but Steve Sarkisian is the right man for the Texas job

Lorianne Willett

“It’s been a long time coming.”

13 years, 11 months and 27 days, to be exact. 5,110 days total. That’s how long the gap is between Texas’ second-most recent Big 12 title and the one it won last Saturday. 

“I know everybody’s been starving for this championship,” Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian continued as he sat inside a press conference room at AT&T Stadium last Saturday. “And so to get it on our final game in the Big 12, I hope everybody enjoys this as much as we do.” 

While the celebration was well deserved, the expectation at Texas will always be a national championship. 

With that being said, the Longhorns have been nowhere near a national title in nearly two decades. Mack Brown led Texas to the BCS Championship Game in 2009, only to fall to none other than Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide. That 2009 title was actually Saban’s first at Alabama. He’s won five more since then. 

Meanwhile, Texas has not reached a national title game since the one in 2009 under Brown. The legendary coach announced his departure from the Forty Acres in December 2013, citing the decline in his team’s performance. 

“This is a top-five program annually; it may be the best job in the country,” Brown said in 2013. “You should be in the mix every year, and it is time for Texas to get back in the mix like we were from ‘04 to ‘09. That was a wonderful run. It was a lot of fun, and we haven’t lived up to those expectations since 2010.”

A decade later, the 2023 Texas team is very much in the mix for a national championship. While the ending of Texas’ current season is still unknown, Sarkisian has already taken the Longhorns to heights that they haven’t reached since the Brown era. 

First Big 12 title since 2009? Check. First appearance in the four-team College Football Playoff? Yes. 

But this year’s success is not far removed from the 5–7 season that started Sarkisian’s tenure in Austin. Texas was 4–1 heading into the annual Red River matchup against Oklahoma, but it blew a 28-7 lead to the Sooners. That loss to Oklahoma was the catalyst that would set up the rest of  Texas’ season. 

Off-the-field trouble ensued as a six-game losing streak revealed itself. Wide receiver Joshua Moore, the Longhorns’ top receiver in 2020, reportedly got into a heated spat with Sarkisian during practice. Moore hit the transfer portal after Texas’ blowout 30-7 loss at Iowa State. The anemic result of that Iowa State contest also led to the notorious Bo Davis rant. In a leaked video, the Texas’ defensive line coach can be heard berating players with expletives while suggesting that those not serious about the season should transfer elsewhere. 

To top off what was already a historically bad season, Texas lost at home to a Kansas team that was winless in conference play, giving the Jayhawks their first road win since 2008. 

“​​I don’t know what happened in ‘09, ‘10 that started this whole decade, but something went loose,” then-defensive tackle Moro Ojomo said after the Iowa State loss. “A screw went loose, and we’ve forever been trying to find which screw.” 

In Brown’s 16-year tenure at Texas, the Longhorns only fell under .500 once. In the decade that followed, Texas has gone under .500 four times. The Longhorns bore the brunt of “Texas is back” jokes after multiple blown leads. But two years later, Texas has seemingly found that missing screw. Patience. The Longhorns have steadily improved since the 5–7 season, going 8–5 last year and now sitting at 12–1 with a CFP berth. 

“We had a lot of hard times that 5–7 year,” defensive back Jahdae Barron said on Saturday. “But we stuck with each other, … and we trusted Sark. It was a bit bumpy, 5–7 and then going 8–5, but we stuck with Sark and everything pays off.” 

And even in the 5–7 season, players recognized that what Sarkisian wanted to do was not going to happen overnight. 

“You can go really deep here if you want,” Ojomo, who is now with the Philadelphia Eagles, said. “First of all, when you think about dynasties, dynasties are built over time. If we’re being completely honest, this atmosphere is, in a way, a bit of an impatient atmosphere. I mean, I can understand why. It’s 100,000 people. We’ve got (the) sixth most millionaires in the, you know. We’ve got a lot of people, a lot of power behind it. But nothing happens overnight.” 

Ojomo was right. Things haven’t been perfect under Sarkisian, but this year has been quite the response to the questions that haunted his first season. So, enjoy the ride. It’s been a long time coming. 

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About the Contributors
Christina Huang, Sports Editor
Christina is a senior studying public health with a sports media minor. She is the former editor for Double Coverage, the Texan's college football insert. Christina previously covered men's basketball and women's soccer for the Texan. She has bylines in Yahoo Sports, the Dallas Morning News, the Lexington Herald-Leader and Dave Campbell's Texas Football. Christina currently covers Texas football and men's basketball for the Houston Chronicle. 
Lorianne Willett, Photo Editor
Lorianne is a Journalism and Global Sustainability junior from San Antonio, Texas. Currently, she is the Photo Editor. In her free time, she enjoys reading and playing tennis.