Texas moves quickly, officially hires Alabama OC Steve Sarkisian as new head coach

Sam Cooper
·5-min read

On the same day it fired Tom Herman, Texas announced his replacement.

Steve Sarkisian, the offensive coordinator at Alabama the last two seasons, is the new head coach of the Longhorns.

"We are excited to have Steve Sarkisian join us and lead the next chapter of our football program," said Kevin Eltife, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents. "University of Texas football has a long and proud history of competing at the highest levels within our conference and nationally, and he brings with him the coaching caliber and championship experience needed to restore this kind of excellence to our program."

As soon as Herman’s dismissal was announced, several outlets reported that Texas had its sights set on Sarkisian as its next head coach. Hours later, it all came to fruition.

DALLAS, TX - JANUARY 1: Mac Jones #10 and Steve Sarkisian of the Alabama Crimson Tide before the game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Rose Bowl College Football Playoff Semifinal game at AT&T Stadium on January 1, 2021 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by UA Athletics/Collegiate Images/Getty Images)
Steve Sarkisian has been the offensive coordinator at Alabama for two seasons. He has previous head-coaching experience at USC and Washington. (Photo by UA Athletics/Collegiate Images/Getty Images)

Sarkisian was head coach at USC, Washington

Sarkisian was the head coach at Washington from 2009 to 2013 and spent parts of two seasons as the head coach at USC in 2014 and 2015. Sarkisian inherited a UW program that went winless the year before he arrived and went 34-29 with four bowl appearances over the course of his five seasons in Seattle.

Sarkisian went 12-6 at USC, where he previously spent several years as an assistant under Pete Carroll. Sarkisian’s time as USC’s head coach came to an abrupt ending in 2015 as he struggled with alcoholism.

From there, Sarkisian landed at Alabama as an offensive analyst and then had a two-year stint as the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. Sarkisian then returned to Tuscaloosa in 2019 to run the Alabama offense under Nick Saban.

The Crimson Tide offense has thrived under Sarkisian over the past two seasons.

This year, he won the Broyles Award, given to the nation’s top assistant coach as he helped Alabama return to the College Football Playoff title game. No. 1 Alabama, which beat Notre Dame in the CFP semifinals on Friday night, will face No. 3 Ohio State in the title game on Jan. 12.

Now, after rehabilitating his career, Sarkisian has another high-profile head-coaching job. This time, it’s in Austin.

"On Jan. 4, 2006, I was the USC quarterback coach when we played Texas in that famed national championship game. There has always been something special about Longhorn football, its history and traditions — not just on that day — and I could never have imagined that 15 years later I would join the Longhorns as their head coach," Sarkisian said.

"This is a unique and compelling opportunity to lead this storied program to the next level, competing once again amongst the best in college football."

Texas fired Tom Herman after 4 seasons

Sarkisian inherits a program coming off a 7-3 season under Herman. It was Herman’s fourth season in Austin. He went 32-18 overall, including a 22-13 mark in Big 12 play.

The Longhorns did not win a conference title under Herman, though they came close in 2018.

UT went 7-6 in Herman’s first season before advancing to the Big 12 title game in 2018. However, that resulted in a loss to rival Oklahoma, the program that has now won six consecutive Big 12 championships.

Texas closed out that season by beating Georgia in the Sugar Bowl to get to 10-4. It was a win that created mammoth expectations entering 2019, but the Longhorns underwhelmed with an 8-5 record.

Texas again fell short of expectations in 2020, losing back-to-back games to TCU and Oklahoma and later losing a pivotal game to Iowa State on Nov. 27. It was a game that would have given Texas a good chance to advance to the Big 12 title game.

Texas closed out the year with blowout wins over Kansas State and Colorado in the Alamo Bowl earlier this week.

Back on Dec. 12 (just before the early signing period), Texas AD Chris Del Conte released a statement saying “Tom Herman is our coach.” When asked for clarification from local reporters at the time, Del Conte indicated that Herman would return in 2021.

However, Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel reported that Del Conte has been doing background work on Sarkisian over the last few weeks. Del Conte previously pursued former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer as a potential replacement for Herman, but that pursuit came up empty.

“After much deliberation and a great deal of thought, as I looked back at the totality of where our football program is and in discussing its future, it became apparent that it was in the best interest of the University of Texas to move in a different direction,” Del Conte said of his decision to fire Herman.

Later Saturday, Del Conte called Sarkisian “one of the top offensive minds” in football.

"We are confident our players and coaches will thrive under his leadership and in response to his energy and passion for the game,” Del Conte said.

UT president Jay Hartzell said that hiring Sarkisian “represents a critical investment in our football program's future.”

“Our entire community benefits from a healthy and successful athletics program, and naming Steve as our coach infuses our football program with the necessary guidance and expertise to drive further success,” Hartzell said.

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