AUSTIN (KXAN) — Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian said Thursday that if it wasn’t for Alabama, he probably wouldn’t be a college football head coach.
During media availability leading up to Saturday’s showdown with the Crimson Tide, Sarkisian spoke about how Alabama head coach Nick Saban “gave him a chance,” after he was fired midway through the 2015 season as the USC head coach amid allegations of alcohol abuse. He joined the Crimson Tide as an offensive analyst for the 2016 season before taking an offensive coordinator job in the NFL for the Atlanta Falcons. He spent two years there, and then Saban called again.
“At the time, I thought I was destined to be the NFL,” Sarkisian said. “When Coach Saban called, I took a step back. Here was the man who gave me an opportunity when I couldn’t even get an interview anywhere. I felt like I owed him and the school. They extended an olive branch when there weren’t many out there for me.”
Sarkisian helped recruit current Alabama quarterback Bryce Young, last year’s Heisman Trophy winner and favorite to win it again this season, and he built the offense into the juggernaut it is now during the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
Sarkisian said even though he felt the NFL was his calling, he still “missed an opportunity” at Alabama after he was made the offensive coordinator for the National Championship Game during his first stint in 2016.
“I don’t regret leaving the first time, but when it came full circle, I felt like that I couldn’t pass it up again,” Sarkisian said. “It worked out great. Ended up winning a national championship and had a Heisman Trophy winner, and I’m the head coach at the University of Texas. I guess it was a pretty good call to go back.”
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Sarkisian rebuilt the reputation that he gained after resurrecting the Washington Huskies program from a winless season in 2008. In five seasons in Seattle from 2009-2013, he had four winning seasons and two bowl wins and lifted the Huskies out of the Pac-12 Conference’s basement.
After his fall from grace five games into his second season at USC, Sarkisian checked into a treatment center. Following that, Saban gave him another chance, something Sarkisian is forever grateful for.
“He entrusted in me to make me an offensive coordinator for a National Championship game after I was an analyst all season,” Sarkisian said. “It was an awesome experience at Alabama. I worked with awesome people and I learned a lot.”