Older, Wiser Sarkisian on Texas: ‘Don’t Want to Be One-Hit Wonder’
SAN ANTONIO, Texas – The football coaches sat at the front podium on either side of the Alamo Bowl trophy, and Steve Sarkisian looked like he stepped out of an episode of Miami Vice in his earthy colors, while Kalen DeBoer presented a very more conservative, closed.
Clearly different styles for these coaches, different images to reflect, different comfort zones, as they prepare to send their respective Texas and Washington football teams against each other Thursday night at the Alamodome.
Sarkiasian, as the resident Longhorns football coach just 75 miles from campus, fielded most of the questions. He was asked again about the 2011 Alamo Bowl, in which his then-Washington team lost 67-56 to Baylor and Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Robert Griffin III.
“My neck hurt after that,” said Sarkisian, who was forced to fire three Husky defensive coaches once he returned home from that overly generous postseason point fest. “It seemed to me like it was a tennis match.”
Excited about the chances of scoring another free-for-all in San Antonio 11 years later, Sarkisian complimented UW on its legion of playmakers, well-designed offensive scheme, stout offensive line and prolific quarterback Michael Penix Jr.
“We have to score, we understand that,” the Texas coach said. “Hopefully we won’t get ourselves to 60. That wouldn’t be good for us and it wouldn’t be good for them.”
Sarkisian, 48, has been through a lot of personal turmoil since leaving the Huskies for USC in late 2013. His layoff just a season and a half into that Trojans job was not unlike Jimmy’s sudden firing Lake from UW a year ago. His well-publicized struggle with alcohol abuse. His equally well-documented return as a college football coach.
Before coming to UW, Sarkisian spent seven seasons at USC with Pete Carroll and, after losing the Trojans’ coaching position, he rebounded by working three years for Nick Saban at Alabama.
He was asked if he’s more like Carroll or Saban in what he does as the man in charge?
“The bottom line is both guys are winners and they do it their way,” he said. “The biggest thing I found for me is how can I be Steve Sarkisian? Not try to be Nick Saban or Pete Carroll, but be me?”
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As the Texas coach, Sarkisian still seems to be a free-spirited kind of guy, often interspersing his comments with the word “man,” much like one of his players might.
He will forever be remembered in Seattle for standing up in front of an arena full of Don James mourners and treating the moment like a big rally rather than a solemn occasion, not the best decision.
However, he definitely looks older now, his hair is falling out and lessons have been learned. He also seems to understand the importance of continuing this job at Texas, one of the most demanding in all of college football, and he has to do well or he won’t get much of a chance after this one.
Asked what a win in the Alamo Bowl would mean to him and his 8-4 Texas football team, Sarkisian offered the following, “For us, getting nine wins. Look at the last decade of Texas football and how much ever had nine wins in One season? We’re trying to build something that’s durable, that can stand the test of time. We don’t want to be a one-hit wonder.”
That goes for both the Longhorns program and its coach.
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