Sarkisian trek from Bama constructed pipeline to assist Texas rebuild

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Steve Sarkisian left his job as an Alabama assistant to be the top coach at Texas in January 2021 and shortly blazed a 735-mile path from Tuscaloosa to Austin for others to comply with.

The core of his offensive teaching workers made the trek and a handful of gamers in search of recent begins or extra taking part in time have been trickling in ever since. Sarkisian has three prime assistants who had been on the Alabama sideline when the Crimson Tide received the 2020 nationwide championship.

Is he constructing Alabama West? The early returns — a 5-7 season in 2021 — have to date been slightly un-Bama like.

Sarkisian and the Longhorns (1-0) have an opportunity to make a press release Saturday. The No. 1 Crimson Tide (1-0) play on the street in opposition to their future SEC opponent, which is hoping the success Sarkisian skilled in Tuscaloosa can lastly rub off in Austin.

Sarkisian typically credit Alabama’s Nick Saban as a serious drive in restoring his teaching profession after he was fired at Southern California halfway into the 2015 season and went into alcohol rehabilitation remedy.

Working underneath Saban first as an analyst in 2016 after which returning as Alabama offensive coordinator in 2019 and 2020 allowed Sarkisian an insider’s view of what Saban calls for from his workers, in addition to what he may demand from himself.

Sarkisian has stated fairly frankly that Saban saved his profession.

“I owe so much to him, and I will never, ever forget that he and Ms. Terry have been tremendous in my life and my wife’s life and what they’ve done for us on and off the field, I owe them a great deal,” Sarkisian stated at Big 12 media days in July.

The reward continued this week as Sarkisian ready to face his former mentor for the primary time from the alternative sideline.

“We could be up here for hours talking about things that I learned from him … and what he’s done for guys like myself,” Sarkisian stated, additionally recalling the sting of Saban’s rebukes when one thing went flawed.

“If he’s yelling at you, you probably didn’t reach a level of expectation. When you can meet his expectations, you are doing something right.” Sarkisian stated. “I loved my time with him.”

And when it was time to construct his personal workers, Sarkisian wished assistants cast from the identical fireplace that formed him.

Texas offensive line coach Kyle Flood, particular groups and tight ends coach Jeff Banks and quarterbacks coach A.J. Milwee all adopted Sarkisian from Alabama to affix his rebuild.

This group of coaches left a program that received eight Southeastern Conference championships within the 13 years since Texas final received the Big 12. Alabama has received six nationwide titles since 2009.

Their first season in Austin produced this system’s first six-game dropping streak in 65 years. “Patience” was the phrase round campus.

Saban this week praised his former assistant and has known as Sarkisian one of many best coaches he’s ever had on his workers.

“I think he’s a very bright guy, very well organized,” Saban stated. “He did an outstanding job when he was here.”

Saban shrugged off a suggestion that having so many former Alabama staffers at Texas would give the Longhorns a bonus in drawing up their recreation plan.

“We’ve seemed to play several teams now that kind of know us, but you act like we don’t know them,” Saban stated. “So just because somebody knows you when they play you, doesn’t mean they’re going to beat you.”

Saban is 25-2 in opposition to former assistants. Both losses got here final season, to Jimbo Fisher and Texas A&M and Kirby Smart’s Georgia Bulldogs within the nationwide championship recreation.

Texas has three former Alabama gamers on the roster this season. All had been as soon as highly-coveted recruits out of highschool and Texas has confirmed a lovely touchdown spot, though none has made a serious influence but.

Tailback Keilan Robinson could be the quickest participant on the group, however he’s third on the depth chart behind preseason All-American Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson. His largest contributions to date have come on particular groups, with a blocked punt final season and blocked punt return for a landing final week in opposition to ULM.

Texas anticipated to must influence gamers from Alabama this season: tight finish Jahleel Billingsley and vast receiver Agiye Hall.

Billingsley caught 17 passes and three touchdowns final season, however he’s serving a six-game NCAA suspension for an undisclosed violation that Sarkisian stated occurred whereas at Alabama.

Hall was one of many prime receiver recruits within the nation however caught simply 4 passes final season as a freshman and was suspended by Saban in April. After a fast switch to Texas, he was anticipated to be a function participant within the Texas passing recreation, however he bumped into extra bother when he was arrested for misdemeanor legal mischief and was suspended for the primary recreation.

Hall has been cleared to play this week. nevertheless it’s unclear how a lot time he’ll see in opposition to his former group.

“It’s great to have him back and going with us and having him be part of our program,” Sarkisian stated. “Proud of the work that he did to get himself back.”


AP Sports Writer John Zenor contributed to this report.


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