#AllGasNoBrakes: Texas coach Steve Sarkisian makes clear Longhorns must get to work
New Texas coach said players will sing ‘The Eyes’ and encouraged the entire fan base to rally together going forward
University of Texas President Jay Hartzell already did the math for new football coach Steve Sarkisian.
“By my calculation, we’re only 235 days away from the next game,” Hartzell said Tuesday. “Two hundred thirty-five days and counting.”
Sark better get busy.
Sarkisian, the 46-year-old coaching lifer who has been both honored and humbled by his chosen profession, was introduced to Texas fans on Tuesday via a Zoom press conference. The California native is now charged with leading the state of Texas’ flagship football program, one that’s muddled around in mid-tier bowls lately with above-average success.
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Sarkisian inherits a program that hasn’t won the Big 12 title since 2009 and hasn’t been on the national stage in more than a decade.
“To Longhorn Nation, it’s time to go to work,” Sarkisian said. “Clearly, you guys have probably seen my mantra. This work will be all gas and no brakes. We will go to it full fledge, we will lay down on the hammer and get it.”
It’s a ready-made marketing dream — #AllGasNoBrakes. It’s easy to see that phrase plastered on every T-shirt inside the University Co-op. But Sarkisian stressed that success doesn’t come easy. The former Alabama offensive coordinator landed in Austin on a private jet with his wife Loreal but without all those incredible Crimson Tide players.
Sarkisian will look under the hood to find a roster built on three top-10 recruiting classes. He’ll love quarterbacks Casey Thompson and Hudson Card, playmakers like Bijan Robinson and Joshua Moore and an experienced offensive line. The defense has veterans, too, like DeMarvion Overshown and Josh Thompson.
This is no rebuild, not in any way shape or form. “I don’t think it’s going to take us as long as many might think,” Sarkisian said.
“At the end of the day, the hype is good, the hype is great. But we need to go back to work,” he said. “We all want goals, we all have aspirations, we all want to win. Now we need to go to work. I don’t mind the excitement. I think it’s great for the University of Texas. But for us, it’s about putting in the work so we can get the results that we want in the end.”
Sarkisian touched on all the right notes, as one might expect, in his introductory press conference. Winning the first day is always easy. Sarkisian said walking into the facility he noticed the famous phrase on the wall how the pride and tradition of UT would not be trusted to the timid or the weak.
“I had to climb my way back in this profession, and none of that would have happened if I was timid or weak,” Sarkisian said.
Sarkisian’s journey to the UT podium took all sorts of twists and turns. He was an up-and-coming offensive assistant at USC under Pete Carroll and got his first head coaching job at Washington in 2009 at age 35. With the Huskies, Sarkisian took over a program that went 0-12 the previous year and went 34-29 over the next five.
Sarkisian then was summoned back to USC to be the head coach. The first year, Sarkisian went 9-4 and won the Holiday Bowl. The next year, things spiraled out of control as he battled alcohol addiction. He was ultimately fired and had to slump away from a dream job, always wondering if he’d ever get a second chance.
Sarkisian first had to get sober, which he did by going to rehabilitation and by attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. He still goes to meetings. Then, he got a job as a low-paid offensive analyst at Alabama under coach Nick Saban.
From there, Sarkisian’s rise began again, culminating with him calling the plays Monday night for Alabama’s 52-24 win over Ohio State in the College Football Playoff national title game. Now he takes the next step, returning as a head coach at Texas.
Sarkisian did have some other chances to become a head coach again, most notably at Colorado. But he kept saying no.
“Then when Texas called, it was like, wait a minute. That one’s a yes,” Sarkisian said.
“This isn’t a destination day for me,” he added. “That’s why I use the adage All Gas, No Brakes. We gotta keep going. I want our players to feel that mentality that this isn’t a destination day. This is an opportunity day. What are we going to do with it?”
Sarkisian did not give any public clues about his staff, although at least two of former coach Tom Herman’s assistants are expected to stay. Running backs coach Stan Drayton and receivers coach Andre Coleman have both issued tweets with Sarkisian’s hashtag.
Sarkisian did address a key issue right up front. “I know this much, ‘The Eyes of Texas’ is our school song,” he said. “We’re going to sing that song. We’re going to sing that proudly.”
Sarkisian admitted that there may need to be some tough conversations, but, “That’s our song and we’re fired up to sing it.”
Clearly, some recruits out there must like what they’re hearing. Four-star wide receiver Armani Winfield from Lewisville announced he was committing to UT before Sarkisian’s press conference. He joins cornerback Jaylon Guilbeau as the only two players committed for the 2022 class.
Sarkisian will spend the coming days finishing his staff and looking at the rest of the 2021 recruiting class. When Tom Herman went through the early signing period, he said the Longhorns still had eight or nine spots available.
Texas can also comb the transfer market to see who else might be interested. The NCAA is expected to pass new rules that all for a one-time transfer for all athletes beginning next season.
Sarkisian knows the clock is already ticking and there are high expectations. UT System Board of Regents chairman Kevin Eltife, the highest ranking member of the university system, made the introductions. “We’re excited to begin this new chapter and welcome Sark to Longhorn Nation,” Eltife said.
Athletic director Chris Del Conte said the school needed someone who was “battle-tested,” someone who understood that UT was about winning championships.
Sarkisian appears ready.
“We need a unified Longhorn Nation,” Sarkisian said. “It’s going to take all of us collectively, working in it working in the same direction to achieve the goals that clearly we'll want to achieve.”