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DISCOVERED: 8 coaches who may have given Texas Longhorns a first-place vote

Sarkisian leads Texas on field for final season game

Coach Sarkisian leads Texas on field for Longhorns 2021 regular season game against Kansas State. Photo by Jose Mendez / Horns Illustrated

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photo Don Bender / Horns Illustrated

Texas received a first-place vote in the preseason USA Today Sports AFCA Coaches Poll causing fans and pundits to wonder which coach gave Texas the vote. Texas was also ranked 18th in the Top 25 of the poll.

Alabama received 54 first-place votes, Ohio State received five, Georgia received six, and Texas received a single first-place vote. Someone (who?) sees things differently and may know something about the team, coaches, or the Texas football program.

When Sarkisian was asked about the first-place vote he responded, 

"I say this all the time. I never really understand preseason polls. I don't quite get them (...) I know you guys do your media picks for the Big 12 and we do it for, you know, for the coaches poll, and then the AP poll. I never quite understand it because you are the way you play. You are the record that you end up with and we got a lot of work to do. You know, we're picked to finish fourth in the Big 12. So that should motivate us to get (...) moving and practice really well.”

Still, everyone wonders which coach gave Texas the vote. We dug into each of the coaches who voted in an attempt to discover any connections that could suggest one coach over another, and uncovered eight coaches who have a connection with either Sarkisian or the team that may explain the vote. 

Of the 66 coaches, 17 were quarterbacks, but that was too generic so we looked deeper and found Paul Chryst, head coach of Wisconsin, was the offensive coordinator and QB coach of the Saskatchewan Roughriders in 1996, a year Sarkisian played there. Chryst may have recruited Sarkisian.

Stan Drayton, head coach for Temple, coached under Sarkisian in 2021 before taking the head coaching job at Temple and would know a lot about the program and Sarkisian. 

Butch Jones, head coach for Arkansas State coached at Alabama from 2018-2019 as an offensive assistant and may have worked with Sarkisian when he returned back to Alabama after a year with the Atlanta Falcons working with Matt Ryan. Mike Locksley, head coach at Maryland, coached at Alabama as an offensive assistant and coordinator from 2016-2018 and would have coached with Sarkisian.


Billy Napier, head coach at Florida, may have crossed paths with Sarkisian at Alabama in 2016 when Napier was the wide receiver coach and Sarkisian an analyst and interim offensive coordinator. Jeff Tedford, Fresno State head coach, not a strong connection, but was a quarterback on the Saskatchewan Roughriders, though in 1987, 10 years prior to Sarkisian playing there. Jeff Traylor, head coach at University of Texas at San Antonio, coached at Texas from 2015-2016.

Then there is Nick Saban who hired Sarkisian at Alabama. Saban has a deep respect for Sarkisian, knows his work ethic and his coaching abilities.

So, which coach gave Texas a first-place vote?

One of these five coaches may have given Texas the first-place vote:

Five CFB coaches who may have voted Texas first-place in 2022 Preseason USA Today AFCA Coaches Poll (photos: Paul Chryst, Wisconsin Athletics, Stan Drayton, Texas Athletics, Butch Jones, Arkansas State Athletics, Nick Saban, Alabama Athletics, Jeff Traylor, UTSA Athletics)

We think it was Nick Saban who may know Sarkisian the best. He hired Sarkisian and Sarkisian was with him for two SEC Championships, and one National Championship in 2020. Saban helped mold Sarkisian which gives him an understanding of what the Texas program might be like this season.

In addition, if it was Saban, maybe giving Texas a first-place vote would be a dig back at pundits for the shellacking Sarkisian received during last season.

Who do you think cast the first-place vote?

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