Football

Sarkisian’s hire marks a shift from decades of thinking

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The hire of Steve Sarkisian as head coach of the Texas football program is a significant shift from the school’s established hiring pattern. Sarkisian has head coaching experience, just like the last seven hires dating back to Darrell K Royal’s in 1957.

But from Bill Juneau’s hire in 1917 to Tom Herman’s in 2016, Texas either promoted from within or hired another school’s head coach.

Sarkisian is the first hire of another school’s assistant coach since UT hired Ralph Hutchinson from Princeton in 1902.

As the chart shows, Hutchinson had previous head coaching experience at Dickinson and the Greensburg Athletic Association. When hired by Texas, Hutchinson was an assistant to Garrett Cochran, a former Princeton player.

There were several coaches over 100 years ago whose tenure at Texas was their first as a football coach. Their place in history is established in old copies of The Cactus and somewhere deep within university archives, but college football has changed significantly since their time. The Texas head coaching position is no longer given to those whose first game on the sidelines in Austin is their coaching debut.

Coaches also don’t make career moves like W.E. Metzenthin, who went from Texas head coach in 1908 to Texas assistant under Dexter Draper in 1909.

Sarkisian stands out when looked at through a more modern lens. After 70 years of hiring sitting head coaches, Texas went a different direction with its most recent hire. Of course, there were cases such as Fred Akers and David McWilliams, Royal assistants who spent short stints away from the Forty Acres before ascending to the seat of their former boss.

Those two were the only Royal assistants who roamed the Royal-Memorial Stadium sidelines. From John Mackovic, to Mack Brown, to Charlie Strong, and Tom Herman, Texas looked elsewhere to find the next big thing, Herman’s Texas-Ex status notwithstanding.

Sarkisian has never once worn the Longhorn prior to Tuesday, when he’ll relinquish Alabama offensive coordinator duties and “move up” to head coach, a first for a Longhorn head coach in almost 120 years.

Other Historical Tidbits

-Scipio Tex gave historical background to many of these hires back in October. For a history lesson, I recommend looking back on what he wrote.

-Almost 120 years ago, John Hart went from playing halfback for the Yale Bulldogs to coaching Texas to a 6-3-1 record. Hart beat Oklahoma in the first game of the year, played Texas A&M to a scoreless tie, then was held scoreless against Texas A&M again in the final game of the year in a 12-0 loss. He did not return and never coached at the collegiate level again.

-David Allerdice’s 1914 Longhorns played eight games and surrendered 21 total points. They are recognized as the Billingsley Report’s national champions for the 1914 season when factoring in margin of victory, however the Billingsley Report’s regular ratings, which don’t use margin of victory, recognize Illinois as the 1914 champion. Both teams are worthy recipients; just as the Longhorns surrendered 21 total points in eight games, the Illini surrendered 22 and were Western Conference champions. Texas at the time was independent.

-Dana X. Bible led Texas to an 8-1-1 record in 1941, tying Baylor in Waco and losing 14-7 to TCU. Texas made up for it with wins over No. 2 Texas A&M at Kyle Field, and an end of season dismantling of Oregon in Austin. Texas finished second in the Southwest Conference behind the un-tied Aggies but finished five spots ahead of Homer Norton’s AMC team in the AP poll. Berryman and the Williamson System recognize Texas as 1941 national champions.

-1914 and 1941 join 1968, 1977, and 1981 as national championships the school does not claim.