The college football world got turned on its head early Saturday morning when Texas fired much-maligned head coach Tom Herman and decided to replace him with Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian.
Shortly after the news of Sarkisian’s hiring leaked, an equally juicy tidbit went viral: the Longhorns considered hiring Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly.
According to ESPN college football insider Adam Rittenberg, “discussions” about Kelly being a potential hire took place this week. Details regarding how seriously the Fighting Irish head coach was considered remain unclear.
Wow, @ESPNRittenberg just told us on @ESPNRadio that while Sark appears to be the guy (and likely will be) – there were discussions before now that Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly was a possibility at Texas. But now, Sark.
— Dari Nowkhah (@ESPNDari) January 2, 2021
What is clear, however, is that for whatever reason the program felt more confident with Sarkisian.
“Am told that Texas has been vetting Alabama OC Steve Sarkisian and has heard very positive reports about how he’s handled himself since coming to Tuscaloosa,” The Athletic college football insider Bruce Feldman reported.
Am told that #Texas has been vetting Alabama OC Steve Sarkisian and has heard very positive reports about how he’s handled himself since coming to Tuscaloosa. A potential hire of the Broyles Award could happen soon at UT.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) January 2, 2021
Sarkisian led one of the most explosive offenses in all of college football this year. His Crimson Tide paced the nation in points scored per game among teams that played at least 10 outings.
While Herman’s firing isn’t in itself particularly surprising, it will cost Texas a hefty amount of coin. The 45-year-old is owed $15 million, while his staff is owed roughly $9 million.
Herman’s termination comes just days after Texas destroyed Colorado 55-23 in the Alamo Bowl to finish the 2020 season with a 7-3 record. That victory gave Herman a 32-18 record over four seasons, including a 22-13 mark in Big 12 play.
Now we know what Mike Leach was up to while his team was brawling on the field. https://t.co/W6IYAcAdp3
— Game 7 (@game7__) January 1, 2021
“With our football season coming to a close, our vice president and athletics director, Chris Del Conte, has evaluated the UT program’s strengths and weaknesses and where the program is relative to our goals,” Texas said in a statement.
“While we have made measured progress during the past several years under Tom Herman’s leadership, Chris has recommended to the university president, Jay Hartzell, that UT make a coaching change to get us on track to achieving our ambitious goals. President Hartzell and the chair of our Board of Regents, Kevin Eltife, concur with this recommendation and have approved the change.
“We thank Coach Herman for his service and dedication to our student-athletes, our program and our university.”
Let’s celebrate the end of Florida’s season by remembering how the coach’s wife would kiss his players. https://t.co/SXMqNYTf0o
— Game 7 (@game7__) December 31, 2020
Sarkisian was previously head coach at Washington from 2009 to 2013 and spent portions of two seasons as the head coach at USC in 2014 and 2015. Despite inheriting a Washington program that went winless the year before he arrived, he guided them to a 34-29 record with four bowl appearances over the course of his five seasons in Seattle.
Sarkisian then moved to USC, where he amssed a 12-6 mark. His time as USC’s head coach came to an abrupt ending in 2015 as he struggled with alcoholism. Last year he was discussed as a leading candidate to take over at Colorado, but he ultimately decided to hold out for something better.
By all accounts Sarkisian has been great at Alabama and hopes are high that he will enjoy immense success in Austin.