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UT board of regents chairman Kevin Eltife, president Jay Hartzell, and athletics director Chris Del Conte all had brief speaking parts before Steve Sarkisian’s introduction as Texas’ head football coach.
Each prominently placed their name upon the hiring process. Each is proud of the job they completed.
All three let their thoughts be known about what Sarkisian can mean to the University of Texas prior to Sarkisian’s own comments Tuesday during his introductory press conference.
Eltife: “At the University of Texas, we have a proud tradition of competing at the highest level amongst the elite programs in college football, and in honor of that tradition we never settle for anything short of excellence. We don’t do things halfway. We continue to challenge our leadership, coaches, student-athletes, and staff to take hold of what it means to be a Texas Longhorn, and collectively compete for and achieve our great ambitions. President Hartzell, athletic director Del Conte, and I firmly believe that Steve brings the coaching experience, leadership, and determination necessary to deliver the highest level of success for our program both on and off the field. We’re excited to begin this new chapter and welcome Sark to Longhorn Nation.”
Hartzell: “We seek to be excellent in what we do, whether it’s in the laboratory, in the classroom, or on the football field. We’re in the talent business, and we believe that when we bring together talented students, faculty, staff, and alumni, great things happen. We recruit the best and brightest to the University of Texas, and today presents the latest example of that as we’ve recruited one of the best and brightest coaches in the world to join us here at UT. We want all of our students to be the best in whatever they pursue. Hiring Coach Sarkisian is a critical investment in our football program’s future to position our students and our student-athletes to be the best. If you’re around Steve, you can feel the energy radiating from him. It’s not just football. You can hear his passion for developing the whole person, making sure student-athletes are ready for success in all facets of their lives on and off the field. I’m excited to see the impact Coach Sark will have on our student-athletes and the broader University. Our entire community benefits from a healthy and successful athletic program, and it sure makes life on the Forty Acres more enjoyable and rewarding for many of us. Naming Steve as our coach will give our football program the guidance and expertise to get us to the next level. I can’t wait to see what the team accomplishes under his leadership. By my calculation, we’re only 235 days away from the next game, 235 days and counting.”
Del Conte: “This past month has been one of the most enjoyable months of my life getting a chance to be challenged by you daily to talk about what the University of Texas is. I realized that when we ultimately decided to make a change and we had the discussion, I said to both of you ‘we’re going to make a change, and I need your help. We’re going to have a committee of three.’ I’ve never been aligned with two individuals in my life like I’ve been with the two of you. To have a chairman of the board of (regents) in Kevin Eltife, who graciously agreed to help us in the search process, and my boss, who is an incredible president for the University of Texas, Jay Hartzell, who said let’s do this. Let’s do this together. We went about the idea of finding the talented person to lead our program. And through these discussions, we were having these great discussions, throwing out names about who could be. We’re vetting coaches. Chairman Eltife, he goes ‘how about that boy Sark? He’s a hell of a coach.’ I said, ‘Coach Sarkisian? Oh yeah.’ I kind of laughed. I said, ‘I like him, too.’ And Jay goes, ‘he’s the guy.’ Probably the first time I sat there and walked out of that meeting going ‘holy cow, we actually agree!’ We had our guy, and we had a guy through the difficult conversations of where we want the University of Texas to go.
Steve, your life journey and what you’ve accomplished – there’s a sign in the waiting room that says the University of Texas tradition shall not be entrusted with the timid nor the weak. We need someone that was battle tested. Someone that understood what the University of Texas is. Someone that understood that we are about winning championships. Looking back at your career, what you did at USC, the idea that you’re offered the head coach of the Raiders at 31, head coach of Washington at 33, I couldn’t imagine that responsibility and pressure on me at 33. To see what you’ve done, and then got to a position where you said ‘I went to USC, did my very best,’ and overcome the issues that you wanted to overcome, and the proud way that you say that ‘I’m ready to lead this program today. I’m a better coach today and a better man today for who I’ve been and who I am’ inspired Chairman Eltife. It inspired President Hartzell. We sat there and said ‘this is who we want.’
I am so proud that you are our head football coach. I cannot wait to see what you do. If there’s any indication from what happened last night – come on! Let’s do this. Our student-athletes are excited. Longhorn nation is excited, but more importantly, I just want to welcome you to the Longhorn family. Today, the eyes of Texas are upon us, and they’re upon you, and we’re thrilled that they are. I appreciate you very much.”