CDC: When we decided to make a change, one name kept popping up in my mind – Steve Sarkisian. I don’t like change, I’m slow to make change. People grasp at straws and I don’t want to be in that position.
Steve Sarkisian: Honored to be head coach. (He’s given the speech several times already and he’s pretty smooth with it.) Really likes the roster: “This is not a complete rebuild. I’ve done a complete rebuild. … This roster has talent on it, clearly some holes to fill and needs to improve upon.”
Told a couple schools ‘no‘ last season, couple this season, told someone no right before this one and it was a big one. “It’s clearly a big task but I’m not going to shy away from it, I’ve been through some things in my life that have hardened me, made me a better coach, humbled me some, made me a more thoughtful and compassionate person.” But it’s “allowed me to change the way I approach our players, and allowed me to spend two more years under Nick Saban and learn from him.”
Now is the time. Goal is to be here for the next 15-20 years, and establish something that is incredible. “Who would want to replace Nick Saban? I hope people are asking that in 15-20 years about Steve Sarkisian at Texas.”
Want to develop young men – on field, in weight room, in classroom. Graduate them. So when they move on and their football careers are done, they have a successful life. “That’s all part of the process as a head football coach and leader of young men.”
“We’re putting together a tremendous coaching staff that rivals any one in America.”
Starting work in a week - in weight room, on body composition and speed development
Q&A: Not sure I will do things “different” because I’m not focused on how it was done before. Focus is on how we want to do it now. Real sense of discipline that starts off the field and carries itself onto the field. Our job is to outcoach and out-prepare our opponents. It will take a little bit of time but we’ll get there.
First holes to fill – defensive end, don’t have the numbers at that position that you need from a roster management perspective. I think there was 15 receivers on scholarship and we just signed 3 more. At Alabama we had 8 or 9 – that was too low, but this number is probably too high.
Defense – football is a fundamental game, a lot of time we can get caught up in scheme. But for schemes to work you have to play with great fundamentals. I do think you need multiplicity in today’s college football, there’s too much offense right now. You have to be multiple to handle varying schemes from week to week and make things hard on your opponent. We want an attacking style defense, we want to be multiple inside, but we don’t want to sacrifice technique just to be multiple. It’ll take some time to grow into that, but ideally we can stem inside and help the guys up front.
Loves the facility upgrades, we’re going to be right there at the top of the country.
“We have some key targets we’d like to close on well in February and we’re definitely looking at the transfer portal, but anytime you’re looking at portal or juco you should be thinking this guy’s going to come in to fill a key role on your roster. It’s not where we’re going to major, I’d rather major in bringing in freshmen and developing them. Transfer option is going to be for immediate need so there will be things we’ll do in the portal, but going forward we’ll be focused on the freshmen signees and then 1 or 2 people a year we bring in from the portal.”
“Recruiting is about relationships. Facilities matter, schemes matter, tradition matters – but when you get down to it, when a young man is choosing among elite programs in the country, relationships matter. I believe in being authentic with players and their families, and over time you can develop trust and they can take your word with real value and not just as recruiting talk.”
I’m highly involved in recruiting and highly involved in the relationship piece of it, but assistants have to buy in too – that we’re a relationship-based program.
When a kid commits to a university, the university commits to a young man. It’s like dating, engagement and marriage. Unfortunately the times have changed, now a young man commits to you but still goes on dates. We’ll continue to have conversations with a young man if the interest is returned. On the other side we want to be sure a young man is truly committed to the University of Texas otherwise they shouldn’t commit.
In my career I’ve had five quarterbacks go in the top 10 of the NFL draft, and we’ll have another one this year in Mac Jones [On Jones I think he was saying “drafted” not “top 10”]. I think we’ve got a lot of good selling points for a young man to come to Texas, especially if he’s from the great state of Texas.
The first thing every coach has to understand is that we are a developmental staff. We’re not just a recruiting staff. We have to embrace that mindset. That’s not just in the weight room and on the field, it encompasses raising our football IQ, what we’re doing in school and balance in life, getting their degrees. If you develop players then they’re more open to your guidance in other aspects of life. What happens on the field is a direct reflection of what happens off the field.
What are you bringing to our program that will hopefully minimize penalties and special teams issues: Discipline is a key component. When I say discipline I’m not implying hard coaching or yelling at a kid. It’s about how kids go to class, go to the weight room, how they dress, the discipline of the dress of the day (do we have the proper pads on)? Those things are a direct reflection of discipline. You don’t get discipline on the field, you get discipline off the field and that carries onto the field. If you are running 40s and we tell you to put your hand behind the line and you put your hand on the line, you’re making a decision. And then when you’re on the field and you know you can’t block a guy in the back, you may do it anyway.
Life off the field is about perseverance. There’s always obstacles – and football is the best trainer for that. Transfers are an easy way out. Hopefully we can teach our young men that there are no easy ways out in life.
CDC said Sark is in the process of wrapping up a couple of staff hires this morning. (Friday)
Lot of value in a really good walk-on program in the success of your team. There’s an overachiever mentality that walk-ons bring to your team that can sometimes drive the higher-profile players.