Steve Sarkisian is entering his second year with the Texas Longhorns, with what appears to be a revamped roster and some serious recruiting momentum at his back.
Despite a 5-7 inaugural campaign, things seem to be going in the right direction for Sarkisian and his new-look program, and there is a palpable sense of renewed hope in Austin for the first time since Tom Herman’s hiring from Houston.
So why are national pundits already talking about Sark’s replacement? Ratings and controversy seem to be the simple answer.
However, the interesting story here is not that pundits do not believe in Sarkisian, but who they see him being replaced with.
In a recent appearance on ESPN, former NFL wide receiver and current ESPN football analyst Keyshawn Johnson gave his pick for the Longhorns’ next head coach… and it is a name Texas fans have heard all-too-often — Urban Meyer.
“University of Texas,” Johnson said of his choice for Meyer’s next head coaching gig. “Steve Sarkisian is not having any sort of run at Texas right now. Two years from now – a year from now – Texas has tried to go after Urban Meyer twice I believe already.”
Fortunately for Sarkisian and Texas fans alike, these things are not up to Keyshawn Johnson, ESPN, or any other media outlet.
Even if the Longhorns finish 0-12 in 2022, the cost of buying out the remainder of Sarkisian’s contract would be far too costly for even the University of Texas to undertake. Not to mention the rest of his staff.
Either way, the Longhorns just finished with a top-5 recruiting class– one that has the talent to reshape the future of the program.
Not to mention, the Longhorns find themselves in a position to land arguably the highest-profile recruit in college football history, Arch Manning.
They also had a program-changing transfer haul, that included quarterback Quinn Ewers, and a host of other offensive playmakers at key positions of need.
In short, despite the rough start in Year 1, things are heading in the right direction in Austin. In fact, Last spring, athletics director Chris Del Conte touted hiring Sarkisian as a long-term play to transform the program.
To be fair, Sarkisian will still need to make a jump in 2022. Another year of 5-7 will not inspire confidence in either the administration, recruits, or the fan base.
If he fails to do that, Meyer’s track record in the college game would him a logical choice — at least on paper.
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Programs lined up for Meyer because of the results. In two years with Bowling Green, Meyer lost just six games. He lost two total from 2003-05 with Utah. He won a pair of national titles at Florida and lost just 15 games in six years.
And before retiring in 2018 with Ohio State, he won another championship and lost a grand total of nine games since 2012. Meanwhile, the NCAA had investigations into Florida and Ohio State due to multiple issues
Texas reached out to the then-retired Meyer at the end of the 2020 college season, while it was considering dismissing Tom Herman, before ultimately deciding on Sark.
Meyer, the three-time national championship-winning coach, said no to coming to Austin, and took his chances in the NFL.
Consider that one a bullet dodged for the Horns.
So how did that work out for Meyer?
He was fired 13 games into his first season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, thanks to a laundry list of inappropriate behavior, childish antics with his staff and abusive nature toward his players.
And now at this point, Meyer looks to be untouchable, and potentially a PR disaster for any major Power 5 program.
Perhaps not as untouchable as former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze, or disgraced former Baylor coach Art Briles, but the ‘stink’ on Meyer is still very fresh.
So whether or not Sarkisian succeeds in Austin, the odds of Keyshawn Johnson’s assertions on Meyer wearing burnt orange in the coming year seem… difficult at best.
You can follow Matt Galatzan on Twitter @MattGalatzan
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