Catch-up Football

I posted my last column before Tom Herman was fired and Steve Sarkisian was hired so we have a lot of catching up to do in a short amount of time. Here we go.

Steve Sarkisian           

I’ll bet I’m not the only one whose first reaction to the news that Texas had hired Steve Sarkisian was, “Huh, what?”  UT’s fallback from Urban Myer—the winner of multiple national championships and theoretically a sure-fire sure thing to bring the Longhorns a national championship within three years–was an offensive coordinator? Steve Sarkisian? The guy who was fired by USC for conduct unbecoming because of alcohol abuse? On the job? 

Then I caught myself.  I was being hypocritical for judging Sarkisian on what had to be the worst period of his life. I was leaning in the direction of believing, in terms of being qualified to be the head coach of a major college football program, Sarkisian was not redeemable.  I knew from personal experience that was wrong and not an analytical assessment of the quality of the hire and Sarkisian’s qualifications.

When I looked at Sarkisian’s qualifications I saw that he had been the head coach for five-and-a-half years of two power five conference football programs, Washington and USC. In 2008, he took over a Washington program that had been 0-12 in the previous year. In his first year, his team went 5-7 followed by three straight 7-6 years before finishing 8-4 in 2013. He took over USC in 2014 and went 9-4 finishing the season ranked 20th.  It was in 2015 that Sarkisian had his infamous inebriated public meltdown at a USC booster event and was fired about six weeks later after USC’s fifth game. 

For a fired college football head coach, the first step up from rock bottom is often as an analyst—whatever that is—for a college or NFL team.  Tom Herman is currently an offensive analyst/special projects for the Chicago Bears.   If memory serves, these jobs typically pay about $30,000 per year. You read right, $30,000 per year. Of course, recently fired head coaches don’t take these jobs for the money. In September 2016, Nick Saban hired Sarkisian as an analyst for Alabama.

In December 2016, while Alabama was preparing for the national championship game with Clemson, their offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin accepted the head coaching position with Florida Atlantic. On January 1, 2017, eight days before the National Championship game, Saban fired Kiffin and elevated Steve Sarkisian to replace him.  Remember this event because it illustrates what Saban’s opinion of Sarkisian is and what Texas has in the character of their new coach. Clemson beat Alabama 35-31.

In February of 2017, the Atlanta Falcons hired Sarkisian to be their offensive coordinator replacing Kyle Shanahan that had taken the head coaching position with the San Francisco 49ers.  This was just days after the Falcons had blown a 28-3 third quarter to lead and lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl.  It had to have been a tough time for the Falcons organization and under Sarkisian, in 2017 the offense declined significantly. Sarkisian was fired by the Falcons at the end of the 2018 season.

In 2019 Sarkisian went back to Alabama as the offensive coordinator. That year, Sarkisian’s Alabama offense was second nationally in total offense averaging 568 yards and 48.4 points per game. Alabama went 11-2. They scored 41 points in a loss to LSU and 45 points in a loss to Auburn.

In 2020, Alabama won the national championship and averaged 541.8 yards and 48.5 points per game.  Sarkisian won the Broyles Award awarded to the nation’s top coaching assistant and he won the FootballScoop Offensive Coordinator of the year voted on by previous winners of the award. When Nick Saban tested positive for Covid 19, he appointed Sarkisian interim head coach for the Auburn game.

Sarkisian was hired by Texas on January 2, 2021, 11 days ahead of Alabama’s appearance in the national championship game. In contrast to the way Saban handled the situation when Lane Kiffin had accepted a head coaching position before a national championship game, he did not let Sarkisian go. Sarkisian stayed and at the Frink household, we cheered on Coach Sark as his offense scored 52 points in a route of Ohio State for the national championship.

I think the most impressive lines on Steve Sarkisian’s resume are that Nick Saban hired him twice, chose him to be the head coach of his football team in his absence, and trusted him to remain on and prepare his offense for a national championship game. I’m sold.

I think a case can be made that Steve Sarkisian is the most qualified coach to ever be hired by Texas. Before becoming Texas’ head coach, he had six + years of head coaching experience at major college programs, he was an offensive coordinator in the NFL for two years, and he coordinated offenses at Alabama that finished first and second nationally in total offense.

Before I close on Steve Sarkisian, one of the many things I like about him is that he has stated flatly that he is calling the plays. Not his offensive coordinator, not a committee. The play-caller is Sarkisian. The buck stops with him.  Period. Have I mentioned that I’m sold?

SEC

My initial reaction to the move was that Texas in the SEC would be further away from a conference championship and playoff appearance than they already were. Heck, the Horns are consistently finishing in the middle of the pack in the Big 12, so what would become of them in the SEC? 

Not sure what to make of the move myself, I asked Professor John Butler—the most qualified person on the subject I knew to write a guest column for this here blog.

I envisioned his column to be about UT’s decision-making process and the business reasons for the move to the SEC. Professor Butler went in a different direction writing a full-throated endorsement of the move and a preview of fun and excitement to come with membership in the juggernaut conference.

The column helped me crystalize my thoughts. Moving to the SEC was a no-brainer for Texas and few tears if any will be shed for the Big 12.  After all, how dumb could the Big 12’s leadership have been a few years ago when they decided to stand pat with 10 teams. The Big 12 has 10 teams. It’s goofy and goofy has a limited shelf life.

How soon can we get to the SEC?

Louisiana Pre Game

What do these teams have in common?

  1. Iowa State
  2. Georgia State
  3. Georgia Southern
  4. University of Alabama Birmingham
  5. Arkansas State
  6. South Alabama
  7. Central Arkansas
  8. University of Louisiana Monroe
  9. Appalachian State
  10. University of Texas San Antonio

Give up? They were all beaten by Louisiana in 2020.  As a Texas fan, boy I’m scared.

I have never seen a UT opponent so overhyped as Louisiana. Oh, they were 10-1 last year. They’re preseason ranked #23. They return 20 starters.  Look out!  I’m not buying it. The game opened several weeks ago with Texas as a 16-point favorite. The line is now 8. If I was a betting man . . . .

Hudson Card

Remember back at the beginning of the 2003 season when Mack Brown went through the motions of starting junior Chance Mock for the first six games over redshirt freshman Vince Young?  Chance Mock wasn’t a bad quarterback but come on. Brown and Greg Davis had to know what they had in Vince Young but chose to start Chance I guess out of some unwritten rule about going with the experienced guy over the superior talent. In Vince Young’s case “superior talent” may be the understatement of the century. Vince Young took over as the starter in game seven of 2003. Remember when Vince Young was the quarterback?  That was great.

The reasons l like Steve Sarkisian keep on coming. I love it that he’s dispensed with any aforementioned rule and is going with Hudson Card, the superior talent, right out of the gate. If nothing else, Sarkisian knows quarterbacks and offense.

Kind of Interesting

That Dicker the kicker will start the season handling field goals, extra points, kickoffs, and punting. Erxlebenesque.

Prediction

Steve Sarkisian will prove early in his tenure that he’s not Tom Herman. The Louisiana game will be no repeat of the Maryland debacles. 

Texas over Louisiana 45-16.

Introducing

“One of My Favorite Songs for Various Reasons” A new weekly Wille Earl column segment.

“This ‘Cowboy” written by Toy Caldwell and performed by The Marshall Tucker Band
I gotta get back to Dallas
And tie up a few loose ends
I’m gonna work a week make a hundred dollars
Aw and hit the road again

I was in my brother Clayton’s living room hanging out late on a Sunday afternoon circa 1976 the first time I ever heard “This ‘Ol Cowboy.”  I had never heard anything like it.  I was thinking, this is one of the best songs I’ve ever heard. Eventually, I figured out it was the fiddle and flute playing along with great lyrics that tell a great story that made me love the song.

Here’s what I found online about the song from the Monahan Song blog

We remember Spring days in the north when you were finally able to open the windows in your dorm because the sun had arrived and the snow was gone. Parties erupted on the sunny dry lawns and music blared from those dorm windows.

This Ol’ Cowboy was one of those songs. While it will no doubt come across to you as country, it was considered mainstream Southern Rock and The Marshall Tucker Band was in the forefront of that movement. Their infusion of jazz elements is obvious and this set them apart in our opinion. The flute playing by Jerry Eubanks takes the song to another level and the guest fiddle playing by Charlie Daniels and Andy Stein (Commander Cody), makes this an irresistible tune.

This song is the story of a guy who has been around the block, and one more ended relationship is not going to devastate him.

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

3 Comments to “Catch-up Football”

  1. Jeff , I saw the whole series. Thought it was great!

  2. How do I submit the over-under? There’s no submit button.

  3. Excellent WE in all respects. Didn’t know a lot of what you highlighted about SS. Big thumbs up on the musical addition to the column. ” Cant’ you see , Can’t you see, what that woman been doin’ to me ? ” One of the best ever.

    Any collective comments on the three part special on Longhorn Channel called …2005 ? All Vince , all the time . Lots of high school film on Vince. Florida State wanted Vince to play safety.

What Say You?