In Steve Sarkisian, Texas hires an award-winning assistant with head coaching experience
Steve Sarkisian will become the 31st head coach in Texas football history, the university announced on Saturday.
Sarkisian, 46, was hired on the same day that Tom Herman's tenure abruptly ended. Herman went 32-18 in four seasons with the Longhorns.
“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," Sarkisian said in a statement.
"Steve Sarkisian is one of the top offensive minds in the game of football, which he has proved over and over during his time with USC, Atlanta, and most recently, Alabama," UT athletic director Chris Del Conte said in the same release. "We are confident our players and coaches will thrive under his leadership and in response to his energy and passion for the game."
Sarkisian has spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Alabama. On Friday, the Crimson Tide scored 31 points and compiled 437 yards of offense in a College Football Playoff semifinal win over Notre Dame. That victory advanced Alabama to the national championship game for the fifth time in the past six years.
Sarkisian told reporters at an introductory press conference on Saturday that he will work at Alabama through the national championship game. While trying to win a title, Sarkisian said he will also be working on assembling a coaching staff and meeting with his new players.
Last season, Alabama set a school record when it averaged 47.2 points per game. Alabama is scoring at a clip of 48.2 points per game this season, which ranks second nationally.
"Sark's done an outstanding job in terms of system and scheme, how he teaches the players," Alabama head coach Nick Saban said earlier this week. "He's contributed as much as anybody that we've ever had here in terms of his knowledge and experience."
Sarkisian was the winner of the 2020 Broyles Award, which is given annually to the nation's top assistant coach. He has plenty of head coaching experience, though.
In 2009 he took over a winless Washington program and went 34-29 over the next five seasons. He then won 12 of the 18 games that he coached at USC. Sarkisian also ran the show for Alabama during a 42-13 win over Auburn on Nov. 28 after Saban tested positive for COVID-19.
USC, however, fired Sarkisian five games into the 2015 season. He had taken a leave of absence to battle alcoholism on the day before his firing. He later lost the lawsuit that was filed against USC over his dismissal.
In 2017, he told reporters that alcoholism was still "something I have to work on every single day, and I do work on it every single day."
Before he became a head coach, Sarkisian twice worked as an assistant at USC. He was on USC's coaching staff when the Trojans were beaten by Texas in the 2006 Rose Bowl. While he was the program's quarterbacks coach in 2002, Carson Palmer won the Heisman Trophy.
Sarkisian has coached in the NFL with the Raiders and Falcons. As a college quarterback, he led BYU to a win at the 1997 Cotton Bowl.
In the school's statement on Saturday, Texas President Jay Hartzell said, "Hiring Steve Sarkisian represents a critical investment in our football program’s future, not just for our student-athletes, but for all of Longhorn Nation. 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."
Sarkisian becomes the fifth head coach hired by Del Conte. In the summer of 2018, Del Conte lured away Oregon's Mike White and Kentucky's Edrick Floréal to lead UT's softball and track and field programs. The following year, the interim tag was removed from Bruce Berque's résumé after UT won an NCAA championship in men's tennis. This past April, Mississippi State women's basketball coach Vic Schaefer was given a seven-year contract that will pay him $1.8 million this season.