AUSTIN, Texas — Just five days after the Texas football team rumbled over Colorado in the Valero Alamo Bowl and less than a day after Alabama put away Notre Dame to reach the national championship game, the University of Texas announced that Crimson Tide offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian will become the Longhorns’ next head coach, replacing Tom Herman, who was fired Saturday.
“We are excited to have Steve Sarkisian join us and lead the next chapter of our football program," said Kevin Eltife, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents. "University of Texas football has a long and proud history of competing at the highest levels within our conference and nationally, and he brings with him the coaching caliber and championship experience needed to restore this kind of excellence to our program.”
The changes came three weeks after Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte issued a lukewarm vote of confidence in which he declared Herman “is our coach” without specific clarity about who would roam the UT sideline in 2021, and 16 days after Herman announced the signing of 19 future Longhorns.
For Sarkisian, who has helped make Alabama a prohibitive favorite to beat Ohio State in next week’s national championship game, taking over the Texas program represents an opportunity to lead a prestigious program he once saw only from the opposing sideline in one of the most memorable contests in the history of UT athletics.
"On Jan. 4, 2006, I was the USC quarterback coach when we played Texas in that famed national championship game,” Sarkisian said in a statement released Saturday through the Texas athletic department. “There has always been something special about Longhorn football, its history and traditions — not just on that day — and I could never have imagined that 15 years later, I would join the Longhorns as their head coach.
"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."
Widely regarded as one of the top offensive coaches in the game, Sarkisian was named this week as the recipient of the Broyles Award, which is given annually to the nation’s top assistant coach. While leading the Crimson Tide to an 11-0 record, Sarkisian was the architect of a Bama offense that averaged 535 yards and 48.2 points per game. Two members of the Crimson Tide offense, quarterback Mac Jones and wide receiver DeVonta Smith, are finalists for the Heisman Trophy that will be awarded Tuesday. A third, running back Najee Harris, finished fifth in the voting for the sport’s top individual award.
Before joining Nick Saban’s staff at Alabama in 2019, Sarkisian was the Atlanta Falcons’ offensive coordinator. Prior to his stint in the NFL, he served four years as an assistant and two as head coach at USC, and five as the head coach at the University of Washington.
Sarkisian’s record as a head coach is 46-35 overall, and 2-2 in bowl games; in four seasons under Herman, the Longhorns went 4-0 in bowl games.
“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," Del Conte said. "We are confident our players and coaches will thrive under his leadership and in response to his energy and passion for the game.”
Herman exits Austin with a record of 32-18.
In a tweet hours before the statement announcing Texas had hired Sarkisian, Del Conte said the decision to dismiss Herman was not easy.
“Decisions like this are very, very difficult and not something I take lightly,” Del Conte said. “After much deliberation and a great deal of thought, as I looked back at the totality of where our football program is and in discussing its future, it became apparent that it was in the best interest of the University of Texas to move in a different direction.”
That direction will be led by Sarkisian, who published indicate will coach the Crimson Tide offense against the Buckeyes before taking over in Austin.
“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,” Texas president Jay Hartzell said. “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.”