ARLINGTON (KXAN) — Steve Sarkisian took the podium at Big 12 Media Days on Thursday for the first time as the Texas Longhorns head football coach.
His Longhorns were picked to finish third in the league in the preseason media poll released last week. He inherits a roster that only had two All-Big 12 preseason selections in running back Bijan Robinson and defensive back and return man D’Shawn Jamison.
While this is Sarkisian’s first go in the Big 12 and at Texas, he has plenty of experience at conference media days as a head coach. He spent five years as the Washington head coach before leaving to take over at the University of Southern California.
But now that he’s at Texas, that’s the focus. Here’s what he said at the podium on Thursday.
ON THE QUARTERBACK COMPETITION:
“I gave everybody a clean slate in our program. We have two fantastic players in Casey Thompson and Hudson Card. I just didn’t feel like 15 practices were enough to name a guy a starter in a brand new system, a brand new scheme with brand new coaches. It’s a luxury for me to have two quality guys like this. We’re in a good position. At some point in training camp, I’m gonna have to trust my gut and name a starter. When we do, it’s not gonna be because the other guy gave the job up. Because I name one guy the starter, it doesn’t mean we don’t need the other one. To think you’re gonna go 13, 14 games, all the way throughout the season with only one quarterback probably isn’t realistic. I think we’re in good hands at that position.”
ON WHAT SUCCESS IS IN YEAR ONE:
“You have to recognize when you accept a job, you accept all of the job. At the University of Texas the expectations are very high. The standard, the bar is set very high. You have to embrace it and understand what they are. The next part of it … what are you doing to try to achieve what is that standard, what is that bar. Success is our style of play, who are we as a program. Can we find that level of consistency, do we play really well as a team, or are we playing as individuals? It’s easy to look at a number and say x number of wins is success, but for me as a coach, I’m looking at it on a daily basis. Success is gonna be the level of consistency in which we do things here in the fall.”
ON WHY TEXAS HASN’T HAD SUCCEESS RECENTLY:
“I haven’t been focused on what happened before me. I’m putting all our energy into what we’re doing now. I do believe in at the end of the day, teams win championships. Recruiting rankings don’t win championships. you get a ring for winning games, for winning tough games in November and December in the fourth quarter when you gotta have that drive when you gotta get that stop. That’s what we’re trying to instill in our team. Being the most mentally tough football team. Having real accountability to the program first, to the team first, and doing that on a consistent, daily basis. To watch this transformation happen for our guys, even in our winter conditioning through spring ball and now into summer conditioning, to watch the mentality continue to shift. There is no magic fairy dust to sprinkle. It’s about the team first and then they are the ones that make these plays come to life. I think that our team is really starting to understand that.”
ON PLAYER BUY-IN:
“The biggest thing I’ve been most impressed within our time here is the buy in from the players. I think we have a roster that is more than capable of being competitive at a high level. To inherit a team with three losses by a combined 13 points, we’re in a better position than most. We can’t sit back and relax and think because we’ve got a great stadium, because we’ve got great resources, because we’ve got the four-star, five-star guys, we just sprinkle a bit of magical fairy dust and we’ve got a great football team. To get our team to buy in to a team-first mentality because through team success comes individual accolades, I think our team really understands that. The direct result of it is we should have a pretty good football team come the fall.”
ON BUILDING CONSISTENCY:
“Ultimately, that’s what we’re trying to instill in our players. We’ve got a lot of talented individuals and ultimately, we’re building a team. Since I’ve come, we have 32 new faces in that locker room – we have six transfers on board to go with 26 new freshmen. The best teams that win at a high level, that win big games, understand the level of consistency needed on a daily basis.”