Orangebloods - COLUMN: Why Texas is betting big on Sark...
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COLUMN: Why Texas is betting big on Sark...

QB development is invaluable in college football, and Steve Sarkisian is excellent at it.
QB development is invaluable in college football, and Steve Sarkisian is excellent at it.

1) By hiring Sark the Longhorns are saying...
The Longhorn trio of Jay Hartzell, Kevin Eltife and Chris Del Conte deserves immense credit: it acted quickly, decisively, and executed in a half a day what has seemingly taken forever in the past. And considering this is Texas, it did so quietly, which is a monumental feat.While the operation – yes, the failed pursuit of Urban happened, but even that wasn’t a loud mess - was efficient and quiet, the message the trio delivered was loud. Even if it meant millions, the Longhorns couldn’t afford to fall further behind in acquiring college football’s most important currency – talent. And let’s be real. Some vocal voices with big bank accounts definitely influenced a change too.

It’s not uncommon to hear Chris Del Conte rattle off recruiting statistics in public settings. He did so in the past when the Shaka Smart conversation surfaced, and it’s not an act. And he did so during a recent LHN interview when he mentioned how many top prospects were leaving Texas for Alabama and Ohio State. The Texas Athletics Director pays close attention to future Longhorns and the perception of his programs on the recruiting rail.

When Hartzell was tabbed as the new UT President, multiple sources told me his interest and knowledge, which extends to recruiting, of the football program was unlike his predecessors; so, make no mistake, he’s as big of a football fan as many of you and is more keenly interested in the program’s success than those before him. And given his active role in this process, it’s obvious Eltife has a unique interest in Longhorn football as well.

Obviously, there are various other factors and a long list of items that ultimately impacted the decision to fire Tom Herman after a 55-23 Alamo Bowl win and 7-3 season, and many of them have been detailed throughout recent months. It wasn’t an accident Herman made no mention of his bosses when he released a statement Monday evening. But it also wasn’t an accident when Del Conte, during a brief interview with LHN following the official announcement of Sarkisian’s hire, specifically mentioned Sarkisian’s understanding of recruiting.“… understood the recruiting in today’s age and what they do, and we need to do at the University of Texas and how we want to develop talent on and off the talent were the critical components I liked about him,” said Del Conte while detailing the critical components that led to the hire.

How dire was the situation? Again, Texas and its decision-makers were willing to pay millions to fire a head coach likely to finish around 15th in the country and hired a head coach who undoubtedly arrives with some risk, including a tumultuous exit from USC fueled by alcohol abuse. Sarkisian, who Del Conte said was labeled as an “offensive savant” during his background conversations, isn’t the guarantee on the box Texas was looking for. However, it is a wise, educated bet on a guy who does college football’s most important things very well: recruiting, quarterback play, and scoring points. Working under Nick Saban, Pete Carroll, and having some NFL and heading experience at power-five programs helps too. That’s college football now.

2) Before the recruiting comes the staff…
“I think it’s not only Steve. It’s the staff he brings… what I’m really excited about is the rollout of the staff that’s coming with him. Because that’s going to be super exciting… it’s also who you surround yourself with and I believe he’s going to be able to recruit an incredible staff to come to the University of Texas,” said Del Conte during that same LHN interview. “I can’t wait for his staff to be rolled out.”

I can’t either because the Orangebloods.com subscriber base is already freaking out about how awesome or terrible it is. Maybe the word everyone should focus on is “wait,” because Alabama, coached by a guy who’s made “rat poison” a popular way to label outside noise and distraction, still has a national championship game. How popular? Shaka Smart used it Monday.

Anyway, it’s obvious what pushed Sarkisian over the top for the Longhorns was the staff he could – or based on Del Conte’s comments, will – assemble. As Tom Herman and his staff showed, recruiting might not be as much of a chicken or the egg discussion as we think. Sure, winning impacts everything, but it’s not like Herman was losing at a disastrous level. His success on the field, generally speaking, was stagnant; above average, but stagnant. The recruiting results were not stagnant. Unfortunately for Texas and Herman, that arrow pointed the wrong direction.

While I joke about the Orangebloods community being quick to excitedly or furiously label Sarkisian’s coaching staff, which includes no official announcements yet, the community is absolutely right to place extreme importance in the future staff and specifically its ability to recruit. Before the recruiting, the quarterback play, and the offense, Sarkisian must nail the coaching staff. The people that hired him are confidently betting on that happening.

3) About the recruiting…
Recruiting-wise, Sarkisian elevated Washington's talent level majorly. Washington signed just 12 four-stars from 2005-2008 and three of those players signed in 2008 after Sarkisian was hired in December. Washington then signed 23 four-star prospects and one five-star prospect from 2009-2013...

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