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Bohls: Do's and don'ts for new Texas coach Steve Sarkisian to know

Steve Sarkisian said all the right things Tuesday in his introductory press conference as Texas' new football coach. He inherits a program that has won four straight bowl games but hasn't won a conference title since 2009.
  • Don't lose to Kansas. Like ever.
  • Do give the ball to Bijan Robinson. A lot.
  • Don't ever say "Texas is ..., well, you know."

Steve Sarkisian touched all the bases on Tuesday.

Of course, he didn’t need an Astros trash can to know what pitches were coming.

The Texas head football coach, so new he’s still wearing the tags, said he’s all about winning championships. Why wouldn’t he say that? He had just won one the night before.

Sark said he wants to play Texas A&M. Smart. Put the ball in the Aggies’ court. All the UT decision-makers have been saying that for a minute or two now, but it ain’t happening for years.

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Sark said he and his team would sing “The Eyes of Texas” loudly and proudly. I personally support that because it’s the alma mater, but the water’s still a little murky on that subject. We’ll check back with him on that later.

Sark said he’s got “a talented roster” and the task of turning this around won’t take as long as some people think. We prefer that coachspeak swag over talking about going 1-0.

Then he said he and his staff are set to roll up their sleeves. 

This will be Steve Sarkisian's third head coaching job; he previously served as head coach at Washington and USC. The former Alabama offensive coordinator inherits a Texas team that went 7-3 and finished third in the Big 12.

That’s a good thing because if the program he’s inherited isn’t broken, relatively speaking, after four winning seasons and four bowl wins, it sure needs to be in the shop for major repairs. Four losses or more every year since 2009 except in this just finished, schedule-shrunk pandemic season don’t suggest otherwise. Averaging more than five losses a year for 11 years doesn’t cry out championship parade.

Neither Texas President Jay Hartzell nor athletic director Chris Del Conte handed their new hire a list of do’s and don’ts, but they should. Sark did say that he knows not to put his thumb up and knows to say Hook ‘em. OK, those are the basics.

In lieu of a larger blueprint, here’s your starter kit, Sark.

Do not be arrogant. Tom Herman tried that already. Didn’t go well.

Do not let your starting quarterback suffer a career-ending injury in his first game. Happened to Charlie Strong, and things didn’t end well post-David Ash.

Do not lose to Kansas. EVER. Like never.

Do not lose to seven unranked foes. Or one, for that matter. Just mention Maryland to anyone wearing Bevo gear, and you’ll get an earful.

Do not be fake. Doesn’t sound as if that will be a problem because everyone and his brother have labeled you as genuine and you yourself said you are an “authentic” dude. One former head coach who knows Sark well says “he doesn’t have a weakness.”

Do not bring up the binder. We grew a little weary of Herman’s playbook.

Do not alienate long-time Longhorns as John Mackovic once did to Darrell Royal when the legend dropped by his office to inform him of school traditions and was told by Mackovic, “We’ll make our own traditions.” That’s a big no-no.

Do not, under any circumstances, even at gunpoint, even if you crush Oklahoma (it’s even hard to type those words), do not ever utter the phrase, “Texas is back.” We’ll know if it’s back or not.

And here are some dos.

Do continue to embrace the Texas high school football coaches. You threw out bouquets to them on Tuesday and called it their program, which in a lot of ways it is. You immediately went to San Marcos on Wednesday to check in with high school coaches during their board meeting. Smart move.

Do recruit California and other states, but only cherry-pick that state and others (see above). Just google the Florida Five.

Do lock down Texas’ borders and tell the Quinn Ewers and Tommy Brockermeyers of the world the Longhorns are open for business. Yeah, easier said than done.

Do play the best players. Forget silly rotations to keep everybody happy. No participation ribbons anymore. Yes, it’s OK to have an alpha dog, but I’m aware you may already know that, since you’re on a first-name basis with DeVonta Smith.

Do make sure Bijan Robinson gets 20 touches a game, if not more. Play to your strengths.

Do develop players. Texas has become an afterthought to the NFL with only 29 players in the league and only three quarterback starters in the NFL since Bobby Layne, and neither Vince Young nor Colt McCoy nor Chris Simms flourished. Can we count Garrett Gilbert?

Do recruit to needs, not to stars on a website. It’s all about roster management and building the best team, not winning any awards on signing day.

Do bring your entire Alabama playbook from Tuscaloosa. We like all the wrinkles and pre-snap movement and finding mismatches.

Do be open with the media. Don’t throw a pizza party and undress the very reporters who will write thousands and thousands of words about your program. Respect works both ways.

Do call your kickers by their given name. Kickers are people, too, despite what Herman said. If you don’t agree, check out the MVP of the Longhorns’ last Texas Bowl.

Do sprinkle in a “fixin’ to” and “I just came from Whataburger” and “how about that Bob Armstrong dip at Matt’s” and throw in a reference to Willie and DKR every now and then. (We’ve had plenty of the so-called Minister of Culture. I don’t think he needs any more pub.)

Do pronounce it Man-chack and Mu-hey-a.

Do eat as much Franklin’s barbecue (and John Mueller’s) until you need a nap.

Do challenge your defensive backs to play better if they want to flash the DBU label.

Oh, and one more.

Do win a national championship before your first contract expires. Then, and only then, can you or your quarterback stand up and say ... well, you know.