The Texas Longhorns enter week 12 with a 4-6 record after their agonizing overtime loss to the Kansas Jayhawks. The Longhorns need to reevaluate their entire program at the end of the season, which could include parting ways with head coach Steve Sarkisian after one season in Austin, Texas.
As it currently stands, the Texas Longhorns sit eighth in the Big 12 with a 2-5 conference record. The last thing a program wants to do is fire the head coach after the first season, but Texas could be forced to do that. Last Saturday’s loss to a 1-8 Kansas team sounded the alarms that something is not right with the Longhorns. The blame has been directed at Sarkisian because he was expected to turn this program around in 2021.
Final Score: Texas – 56 Kansas – 57
— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) November 14, 2021
The Longhorns began the 2021 campaign ranked No. 21 in the country and they looked like a top 25 team with a 38-18 win over the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in the season opener. The honeymoon phase between Sarkisian and the University of Texas came to a screeching halt when the Arkansas Razorbacks blasted the Longhorns, 40-21, in the second week.
After the loss to the Razorbacks, the Longhorns found a way to bounce back with three consecutive wins over Rice, Texas Tech, and TCU. Sarkisian seemed to be in a groove with the way the offense came alive. During this time, running back Bijan Robinson emerged as a potential Heisman Trophy candidate.
The short stint of success went away in week six when the Longhorns blew a 41-23 lead in the second half to the Oklahoma Sooners in the Red River Showdown. That devastating loss to their archrivals led to a snowball effect for the rest of the season.
Texas has been on a five-game skid with losses to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor, Iowa State, and Kansas. This losing streak is unacceptable for a program that is trying to join the SEC in the near future. Texas hired Sarkisian in January with the hope of turning the program into a national powerhouse.
Before Sarkisian was Texas’ head coach, Tom Herman was at the helm in Austin from 2017-2020. He was relieved of his duties following the 2020 season due to the team’s inability to break through the top of the Big 12 Conference. Herman’s worst season as the Longhorns head coach came in 2017 when the team finished 7-6. They followed it up with a 10-4 season in 2018, an 8-4 record in 2019, and a 7-3 record in 2020.
Herman was expected to deliver a Big 12 Championship to Austin, Texas, but unfortunately, he failed to do so. Texas thought they upgraded with the hiring of Sarkisian, but that is still to be determined.
If you were to compare Herman’s tenure to Sarkisian’s, Herman at least had confidence in his team’s ability to qualify for a bowl game. In 2021, Texas needs to end the season with at least six wins in order to be bowl eligible. That is a far cry from what Herman accomplished in Texas.
Less than a year after the coaching change, the Longhorns have not improved under Sarkisian. The program is in turmoil, and it is unclear if Sarkisian will ever be able to right the ship.
An audio recording of defensive line coach Bo Davis berating the Longhorns after their loss to Iowa State surfaced on the internet. There is a strong sense of desperation within the Texas locker room.
To make matters worse, Sarkisian announced that running back Robinson’s season has been cut short due to a dislocated elbow. The announcement came on Monday after Robinson suffered the season-ending elbow injury during Saturday’s 57-56 loss to the Jayhawks.
Sarkisian’s start is off to one of the ugliest starts in recent memory. Not having your premier running back to end the season is going to be one of Sarkisian’s biggest challenges this season. Sarkisian has struggled with avoiding a quarterback controversy between Casey Thompson and Hudson Card. The team is lacking a true leader under center in 2021.
Texas hired Sarkisian because of his recent success as Alabama’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Sarkisian has experience as the head coach at Washington (2009-2013) and USC (2014-2015). He is regarded as a great offensive play-caller but his ability to coach all three phases of football remains in question.
The offense is second in the Big 12 with an average of 37.8 points-per-game, however, the defense ranks No. 7 in the conference with an average of 32.5 points surrendered each game. The Big 12 is known for high-powered offenses but Texas’ offense can only carry the load for so long.
The loss to Kansas raised several red flags because Texas should not have trailed by as much as 21 points at home to one of the worst FBS teams in the country.
In order to be bowl eligible, the Longhorns need to get a road win against West Virginia on Saturday, as well as a home win over Kansas State on Nov. 26. The University of Texas must get to the bottom of this issue and figure out if Sarkisian is the right man for the job. Through 10 games, Sarkisian does not seem to be the right fit in Texas.