Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian not concerned whether Alabama showdown defines Longhorns program

Texas coach Steve Sarkisian knows the college football world is focused on the Longhorns Saturday as they take on No. 1 Alabama, with two of the sport’s biggest brand names going head-to-head for the tenth time in history .

But Sarkisian also warns his team not to get too distracted by all the attention.

The Longhorns are 19-point underdogs at Caesars Sportsbook and will likely finish with their longest home win chances since the FBS and FCS split in 1978, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Still, it’s a great opportunity to see how Sarkisian’s progress compares to his old boss, Nick Saban.

“It’s a game, you know?” Sarkisian said on Monday. “It’s a chance for us to do what we love to do. I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is [thinking] This will be the game that will define our program.

“Maybe, maybe not. I’m not too worried about that. I’m more worried about how we play the game.”

Sarkisian said his goal is to play for a Big 12 championship. While the Crimson Tide will be a future SEC opponent, Saturday’s matchup is a non-conference game for now, and Sarkisian said he’s focused on what he can control.

“My goal is to be in Dallas on December 3rd,” he said. “This game doesn’t affect that. … I really want to play well. I want to make sure our boys play our style of football, our brand of football and do it the way I know we’re capable of.”

Sarkisian, who spent three seasons as an assistant at Alabama, was asked how Saturday’s game against Saban compared to another former boss in Pete Carroll in 2009, when Sarkisian’s Washington team upset the then-No. 3 U.S.C. 16-13.

“Very similar scenario,” Sarkisian said. “I worked for Pete Carroll for seven years and had a lot of respect for what he did and what we were able to achieve during our time there. I think it was buying the idea of ​​how the game plan was and where we needed to be from a psychological standpoint.”

Knowing the psyche he needs against a dominant Alabama program, Sarkisian laughed as he recalled how intense working for Saban was, though he did recall Lane Kiffin taking the brunt of it.

“Lane used to be pretty good at it. I don’t mind saying that,” Sarkisian laughed. “Lane was a good friend of mine. There are a few that I remember vividly. I was kind of in the press box looking down and there was a lot of it [wild gestures] Come on.

“I have it too. I think that shaped us. But part of that is when [Saban] yelling at you, you probably haven’t met an expectation or standard of what he expected you to do. And if you’re a guy like me, that’s what ultimately drives you.”

Texas will face Alabama for the first time since the 2010 national championship game after the 2009 season. This will be their first regular-season matchup since 1922, and Texas is 7-1-1 all-time against Tide, which is the best win ratio (.833) among teams that have played them at least five times.

Sarkisian said he wasn’t sure where he was during that 2010 championship game, but he echoed a common refrain from Longhorn fans — one that’s being analyzed quite a bit this week: What if former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy wouldn’t have been injured in the fifth snap of a 37-21 loss.

“I think we all wish that if Colt had been in the game, what would have happened?” he said.

https://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/34530154/texas-football-coach-steve-sarkisian-not-concerned-whether-alabama-showdown-defines-longhorns-program Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian not concerned whether Alabama showdown defines Longhorns program

Emma Bowman

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