Today was a special and unique press conference for Texas HC Steve Sarkisian as he and his team just finished their 2022 regular season. With an 8-4 record, Sarkisian noted that it's only the "2nd time in the past 9 years that Texas has won 8 games" or more. He started off with his usual game recap, but this presser was anything other than "usual." There's a lot to break down, so let's start with the Baylor win.
Sarkisian opened up his game recap by stating that Friday "was exactly what they were hoping for" in regards to their seniors and getting the win to have a chance at making the Big 12 Championship. He thought that "resiliency was the key to the drill" and stated that they played "really good defense and ran the ball well." The Longhorns defeated the Bears 27-38 to finish the regular season.
Now to the good stuff.
Sarkisian was asked multiple questions regarding the transfer portal, NIL deals, recruiting etc. Starting with NIL, Sarkisian made his opinion very clear: "If you're choosing to come here [Texas] because of NIL, then you are coming here for the wrong reasons." Sark made it known throughout the presser that NIL is a part of the game and "is not going anywhere" but emphasized how he and the University of Texas "take pride in what this university stands for" while stating how they "have to make sure we are doing it in the right way." With the transfer portal, Sarkisian mentioned how it's an area that they "have to adapt to" and even compared the portal and recruiting to the NFL in its similarity to "free agency" as it "gives you a little bit of that NFL feel." Sticking with the recruiting topic, Sarkisian noted how his squad is "still going to recruit hard in the month of December" and used the quote "sometimes the grass appears greener on the other side..." when referencing new players coming to Texas and having to compete with the guys already here who may be more talented than the newcomer.
Moving over to conversations regarding the bowl game and specifics of UT players, the second year head coach stated that their "first five or so practices of bowl prep will be like spring ball mentality" and how the "second half of the practices... will be dedicated to more game planning." When asked about potential players sitting out of the bowl game, Sarkisian expressed how he "hate(s) it for them [the players] that they have to make that choice." He mentions that the "reality is all of them deep down want to play... for some guys, they should play... for other guys, maybe it is in their best interest not to play". He also highlighted how for some players it could be used to get more reps and things for that matter.
Moving to individual players, Sarkisian was asked about WR Xavier Worthy's status with Texas, as the star wideout deleted all things Texas from his Instagram a few days ago: "he is a highly competitive young man... his best days are ahead of him" and mentions how he understands Worthy's frustration at times this year, stating "I would much rather have a receiver that's frustrated that he didn't contribute more to a win than a guy who's content of going on the field and playing and the ball not coming his way because I think he values his ability to get open. I do too." Also asked about RB Bijan Robinson and LB Jaylan Ford, Sark believes that "If we [Texas] were 10-2 right now and playing for a Big 12 Championship and maybe on the cusp of the College Football Playoff, I think there'd be no question this guy would be in New York for the Heisman" referring to Bijan. With Ford, Sark highlighted how he has created a turnover in 6 straight games and says he performs "at critical moments in the game."
Lastly, Sarkisian was asked on his thoughts regarding the games the Longhorns lost this season, the conversations regarding penalty calls, and the enormity of his job. Sark mentioned how he wishes his team "just played better" against TCU and declares himself as his "biggest critic." He also touched on the importance of the run game and how that affected the ability of the defense to stay "fresh" in some games this year. Regarding what seems like a lack of penalties called against his opponents this season, Sarkisian said "at the end of the day, you play the hands you're dealt" and thought his team handled the calls a lot better on Friday against Baylor. Regarding his job as the head coach, Sarkisian expressed his passion: "I love what I get to do everyday... I am so fortunate and blessed to have this opportunity... I eat this up... I get to do what I love, and I love what I do."
Texas now awaits to see who they will play in their bowl game and final game of their 2022 season.