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Steve Sarkisian gives Texas most interesting branch of Nick Saban coaching tree

Texas made the primary daring teaching transfer of 2021.

The Longhorns dismissed Tom Herman after four seasons and instantly introduced Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, winner of the 2020 Broyles Award because the nation’s prime assistant, as their subsequent coach.

With that, Sarkisian turns into essentially the most fascinating Nick Saban assistant-turned-head coach — 12 in complete — after rising as the perfect offensive coordinator throughout Saban’s tenure at Alabama. That is not debatable.

MORE: Takeaways from Alabama’s victory over Notre Dame

The Crimson Tide averaged 47.2 factors per recreation final season. Alabama elevated {that a} tick to 48.2 ppg this season, and DeVonta Smith, Mac Jones and Najee Harris all completed within the prime 5 within the Heisman Trophy voting. Sarkisian stuffed in because the interim coach for Saban within the Iron Bowl this yr, main the Crimson Tide to a 42-13 victory. He adopted that up with one other masterful recreation within the 31-14 win in opposition to Notre Dame within the CFP semifinal on the Rose Bowl.

That weighs extra now than Sarkisian’s final two stops at head coach, the place he compiled a 46-35 file via stints at Washington and USC. Sarkisian was concerned with a number of alcohol-related incidents that contributed to his dismissal from USC. His time with Saban, nevertheless, has restored his picture. That ought to be the main target now. Sarkisian has been good the final two seasons and deserves credit score for that.

Smith instructed Sporting Information why Sarkisian’s play-calling is so successful.

“It is a variety of motion within the offense,” Smith stated. “We’ve got a variety of shifts. Individuals movement and transfer round. It is simply giving the protection a variety of totally different seems to be and making them modify.”

Sarkisian is a superb offensive thoughts who deserves one other probability. That labored for Lane Kiffin, who was identified extra for his earlier teaching stops at Tennessee and USC earlier than he took on the function of Alabama offensive coordinator. Kiffin earned his approach again with a profitable cease at FAU, and Ole Miss averaged 40.7 factors per recreation this season.

Sarkisian is nowhere close to as flashy as Kiffin, however the sample is identical. Actually, Sarkisian was thrust into the function of offensive coordinator when Kiffin bolted for FAU earlier than the 2017 CFP championship recreation. If not for Deshaun Watson’s late-game heroics in a 35-31 win, Alabama wins that one, too. Sarkisian might need been on this observe sooner.

What can Sarkisian give the Longhorns that Herman could not present? In any case, Texas averaged 42.7 factors per recreation this season, and expertise on the facet of the ball wasn’t the problem. Herman has a better successful proportion as a head coach.

The very fact Texas went right here after publicly flirting with City Meyer confirmed how a lot the college wished to maneuver on from Herman. The buyout is large, too.

Maybe it is the well-documented struggles in shut video games that outweighed the beneficial properties Texas made on the recruiting path. Alabama took benefit of that by bringing in three of the highest 10 recruits from Texas within the 2021 recruiting cycle. Can Sarkisian have that success on the recruiting path? That may decide whether or not he can have long-term success in Austin and break via as Saban’s finest former assistant but.

It is definitely essentially the most fascinating storyline when you think about the opposite assistants.

MORE: Tide drown Irish for CFP semifinal win

Kiffin, Kirby Good and Jeremy Pruitt are chasing Saban within the SEC. Jim McElwain tried at Florida, however he is now in his second season at Central Michigan. Butch Jones is again at it after being employed by Arkansas State. Billy Napier doubtless would be the subsequent SEC rent, every time he is prepared to maneuver on from Louisiana. Mario Cristobal, Geoff Collins, Mel Tucker and Mike Locksley even have Energy 5 jobs. Cristobal may get a shot at Saban if Oregon can break via within the Pac-12 and be greater than only a New Yr’s Day 6 crew.

Sarkisian’s is be the largest job of these coaches. He’ll face much more strain than Good, who’s tasked with making an attempt to win Georgia its first nationwide championship since 1980.

That leaves one assistant — Saban’s most profitable, so far. Jimbo Fisher received a nationwide championship with Saban as LSU’s offensive coordinator in 2003, and a nationwide championship at Florida State in 2013.

Fisher had a breakthrough season at Texas A&M in Yr 3. The Aggies are nonetheless chasing Alabama, however Fisher had this system within the dialog for the final playoff spot (the Aggies had been the primary crew out). The Longhorns have not been anyplace near that playoff dialogue within the final seven years. Possibly that is what Texas was all alongside.

Can Sarkisian change that? That is the massive query now, and one. He dealt with essentially the most pressure-packed coordinator job within the FBS. Now, he inherits arguably essentially the most pressure-packed head teaching job in all of school soccer. It is a daring transfer by Texas, and maybe a fair bolder transfer by Sarkisian.

Each appear extra prepared to financial institution on Sarkisian’s future than his previous.

That is at all times begin.

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