The Around The Block – Longhorns debut article, detailing Steve Sarkisian and his long journey that led him to the Forty Acres, is here! In this “Meet the Coaches” Series we will be going through some of the new coordinators and coaches in Austin. Including Chris Beard, Pete Kwitkowski, Kyle Flood, Jeff Banks, and more. Steve Sarkisian has had one of the toughest paths for any coach and his redemption story is just getting started. Grab your favorite beer, cocktail, or a cup of coffee and let’s get excited about the future of Texas football!
Sarkisian’s coaching roots date all the way back to 1995 when he played quarterback for Brigham Young University for two seasons. The legendary LaVell Edwards was his head coach at the time, a man who’s offense was one of the inspirations for the airraid system that Mike Leache has made famous today. LaVell Edwards’ offense was so pass happy and so quarterback friendly that Sarkisian was first in the nation for completion percentage in 1996, completing 68.8% of his 404 attempts. Sarkisian also ranked second in the nation in completions, yards per attempt, passing touchdowns, and passing yards in that 1996 season. Sarkisian never made it to the NFL, but did play for the Saskatchewan Roughriders in the Canadian Football League.
After three seasons in the CFL, Steve Sarkisian got into coaching. First at El Camino College as a quarterbacks coach, where Sarkisian played for two seasons before transferring to BYU. Then, after one year Sark was hired to be the quarterbacks coach under Head Coach Pete Carroll and Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow at the University of Southern California. Sarkisian’s quarterbacks at USC from 2001-2003 include: Carson Palmer, Matt Cassel, and Matt Leinart. In 2004 Sarkisian accepted a job to become the Oakland Raiders quarterback’s coach under Head Coach Norv Turner and Offensive Coordinator Jimmy Raye. Sarkisian would then go back to USC in 2005 to become their quarterback’s coach again after a terrible season in Oakland. Matt Leinart would end up throwing for 3,815 yards and 28 touchdowns leading them to a 12-0 record and chance to three-peat as National Champions. As we all know, The University of Texas and Vince Young ended the dream of a three-peat in what was one of the best football games of all time. Sark would later be promoted to assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for USC’s 2007 and 2008 season.
In 2009 Steve Sarkisian was named Head Coach for The University of Washington. The Huskies were coming off of a brutal 0-12 record. Sark improved Washington’s record to 5-7 in 2009 and 7-6 in 2010, beating Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl. Sarkisian and Washington would finish 7-6 and lose their bowl game in each of the next two seasons. In the 2013 season Sarkisian would lead Washington to an 8-4 regular season record before accepting the Head Coaching job at USC prior to Washington’s Bowl Game against BYU.
Sarkisian was back at USC, this time as the Head Coach. Sark started off his tenure right where he left off at Washington, finishing 9-4 including a Holiday Bowl win against Nebraska, again. But, in 2015 Sarkisian’s demons had taken over. Sarkisian was rumored to have been drunk during a football pep rally where he was slurring his words. Then it was rumored Sarkisian’s assistants had to pull him from the huddle of a USC football game because he was on a drunken tirade. On October 12th, 2015 Steve Sarkisian was fired for “erratic behavior”.
Every one of us has battled or continues to battle something in their personal lives. Whether it be alcohol or drug abuse, depression, anorexia, mental health, a physical injury, dealing with a family member’s illness, etc. It’s important to realize that Steve Sarkisian is as human as all of us, he just happened to be at his worst while the whole college football world was watching. Sarkisian has admitted his problem publicly and has faced his alcoholism head on. Instead of ignoring his failures Sark continues to preach that alcoholism isn’t something you beat, it’s something you work on every single day.
“When you’ve gone through what I’ve gone through in the public eye, I don’t want to say you’re humbled, but you are.”-Steve Sarkisian, Texas Introductory Press Conference
In 2016 Sarkisian got his second chance and was hired as a Offensive Assistant for Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide. Sarkisian was promoted to interm-offensive coordinator later that season, as Lane Kiffin had left to take the Head Coaching job for Florida Atlantic University. Sarkisian would then make the leap to the NFL and take a job as Offensive Coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons. With the tall task of replacing Kyle Shanahan, Sark would go on to lead the offense to 22.1 points per game in his first season. A disappointment after the Shanahan led Falcons led the NFL with 33.8 points per game just a season earlier. Sark would bounce back and improve the offense to average 25.9 points per game in his second season with the Falcons, before getting fired after week 15 in the 2018 season.
Sarkisian would then get re-hired by Alabama and Nick Saban as the Offensive Coordinator for the 2019 season. Sarkisian would lead the Crimson Tide to two great seasons offensively. In the 2020 season Alabama led the power five conferences with 48.5 points per game. Sark would take home the Broyles award, given to the nations top assistant coach.
Steve Sarkisian is one of footballs brightest offensive minds, and has been since he was 32 years old calling plays for USC. Sark’s personal struggles and battles with alcoholism have turned him into a better leader, one who understands how hard it is to fight through adversity. Sarkisian is the newest poster boy for come back stories and I wouldn’t want anyone else leading the Horns through that tunnel September 4th.
Thank you all for taking the time to read a summary of how Steve Sarkisian got to Texas. If you haven’t already go follow @Longhorns_atb & my personal Twitter: @ryfootballscout. Please ReTweet, Like, and Share with anyone you think would enjoy this article. As I mentioned earlier, be sure to keep a look out for more articles coming soon! As always, HORNS UP!