Advice from an old friend helped Sarkisian, Texas make it back to Big 12 title game


AUSTIN (KXAN) — When Steve Sarkisian accepted the head coaching job at Texas, he took some advice from a former boss who is now coaching in the NFL. As it turns out, that guy knew what he was talking about.

Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll shared his wisdom with Sarkisian, telling him that if he wanted to do things his way, he needed to take the leap and accept the growing pains that might occur. Sarkisian was the offensive coordinator for Southern California under Carroll from 2007-08.

“I remember him telling me, ‘You can do what they’ve done before, but you have to be prepared to expect the same results, or you can really dive into doing it your way,'” Sarkisian said. “‘There may be some bumps along the way and it might be hard, but in the end you might get better results when you get people to buy into your way.'”

Sarkisian said he thought the team he inherited in 2021 was “pretty good.” They ended up finishing the year 5-7, losing some close games and not being eligible for a bowl. It was certainly not the year Sarkisian hoped for as his first season at the helm, but he knew that, in time, things would turn around because of how he was recruiting players that fit what he wanted to do. He didn’t want the status quo.

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“My approach when I first got here was we believe in what we can do in the style in which we want to do it,” he said. “Whether that’s offseason conditioning, academics, community service, the schemes we want to play … and as we continued to build our culture and we recruited the players that felt like what we wanted to do, you start to see the results shift.”

He specifically mentioned his staff’s work recruiting linemen, both offensive and defensive, to helping turn 5-7 to 8-5 to now 11-1 and being on the precipice of winning the Big 12 title before they head to the Southeastern Conference. Sarkisian said he didn’t have a timeline in mind to get Texas back to double-digit wins and national relevance, but he thought last season the team had a shot at playing for the Big 12 title, but things didn’t go their way.

“As we went into Year 2, I was disappointed because I thought we had a chance to play for a Big 12 championship and we didn’t get it done,” Sarkisian said. “We put our fate in somebody else’s hands and it didn’t work out, but I felt like this year we had a championship-caliber team.”

In a sense, that ties into the “Embrace the Hate” mantra he talks about. He wanted his players to get used to the high expectations of this year’s team.

“Let’s get comfortable being in that arena,” he said. “It’s our last year in the Big 12 and everybody is going to give us tough games, everyone is going to give us their best shot and have great poise and composure. We’ve done that all year.”

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