The Texas Longhorns have made headlines many times in the last few weeks, but not for the reasons one might think. Conference realignment has dominated the summer, and as a result, the Longhorns’ plan to move to the SEC has overshadowed the arrival of its new head coach and his staff in Austin.
New offensive coordinator Kyle Flood doesn’t think his boss, head coach Steve Sarkisian, will stay under the radar for long.
“I would start by saying, I am fortunate — this is the third stop that Sark and I have been together. We were together in Atlanta with the Falcons and together at Alabama and now here,” Flood said. “One of the things about working with Sark that you realize right away is that he’s the best play caller in football. And I mean that. I’ve been around a lot of really good play callers in my career and he’s got a special talent for it. So, as he handles that part of the job, it’s always made me feel really good that I’m working with somebody that does it at an elite level.”
The best play caller in all of football? That’s extremely high praise, even for an employee bragging publicly on his superior. But then again, Sarkisian’s results in Alabama do speak for themselves.
In his two stints in Tuscaloosa, Sarkisian managed to rehab his public image after a bitter divorce with USC over alcohol issues, as well as establish himself as an elite offensive coach again. In 2019, Alabama finished with the second-best offense in the country despite losing two games (the Tide scored over 40 points in each loss), and last year’s championship team is considered one of the best, if not the best, in Alabama history. For his efforts, Sarkisian was named the country’s top assistant coach.
Flood elaborated on the effusive praise with some football specifics.
“He knows exactly what I like in the run game, he knows exactly how I think the RPOs fit,” Flood said. “He knows exactly how I think we should play the game up front situationally, whether that’s short yardage and goal line or four minute or two minute, whatever those things are. We have a really strong relationship in terms of how we communicate during the week, and then on game day, yeah, I feel great because I’m working with a great play caller.”
Tight ends coach Jeff Banks echoed Flood’s opinions, pointing out what a great leader Sarkisian has become of late.
“He can see it from both sides of his peripheral,” Banks said. “He can see the tight end over here was supposed to take a lateral play-side step to a nine technique, but he also knows the bubble was a little bit short on his footwork on the slot receiver to the right.
“He has no ego and you know what else? He has no memory, he doesn’t,” Banks said. “When he gets on a guy or he coaches them aggressively, it’s not personal — he doesn’t keep going after the guy, he just fixes the problem. And he does it immediately and I think everyone feels an urgency to be great.”
It’s that desire to be great that keeps Sarkisian calling plays on the sidelines instead of upstairs in the booth. By all accounts, he is obsessed with perfection in the best possible way and uses his field-level vantage point to his advantage by spotting small mistakes.
“His day to day is unbelievable. I mean it’s day-to-day energy, consistency, and just how aggressive he is in terms of wanting to make it perfect. It’s unbelievable,” Banks said.
Texas opens the 2021 season Sept. 4 against Louisiana-Lafayette.