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Nick Saban has won 25 of 27 games against his former assistants, which is a record that dates back to a win over Tennessee coach Derek Dooley in 2010. Now, as Texas gears up to host Alabama this weekend, Steve Sarkisian will look to become the third former apprentice to topple his former mentor after Jimbo Fisher did so in College Station last fall and Kirby Smart did so in January.
But Steve Sarkisian’s bizarre comment does not inspire confidence for the Longhorns.
While discussing the upcoming matchup, Sarkisian looked extremely far ahead. He said that his goal is for Texas to play in the Big-12 Championship. That game is played on the first Saturday in December.
(… it is the first weekend of September …)
A win or a loss to the Crimson Tide does not effect the Longhorns’ conference record. In turn, the game does not effect Sarkisian’s chances of coaching for a conference title.
While Sarkisian is not wrong, it comes across as if he had written off this weekend. It sounds like he is saying “well, it’s Alabama, so…” and moving on to the Big-12 schedule.
To some extent, what Sarkisian said on Monday is fair.
The Crimson Tide are 19.5-point favorites in a road game against a team that is supposed to be “back” this fall. It’s hard to imagine that Saban will lose to one of his former assistants in back-to-back years. Alabama is likely headed back to the college football playoff. The Longhorns are significant underdogs and they are not expected to win on Saturday.
All of that is true.
However, for Sarkisian to say that this game has no bearing on his goal of playing in the Big-12 Championship is a strange thing for a head coach to say. Shouldn’t his goal be to play for a national title? What message does his comments send to the players and recruits? Isn’t easier to tap into the standard coach speak and avoid a statement like this all together?