Texas is set to host Alabama in one of the biggest non-conference games of the season despite the public viewing the Longhorns as a sacrificial lamb in Saturday’s marquee game.
Steve Sarkisian and Texas are 20-point underdogs to his former mentor Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide, but earlier this week Sark said that the outcome of this game doesn’t “define the program” in Austin.
Despite having an opportunity to instill confidence in his team ahead of a monumental game, in terms of the national perception at Texas, Sark chose to take the path that leads to criticism.
“It’s one game, you know?” Sarkisian said Monday. “It’s a chance for us to do what we love to do. I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is [thinking] this is going to be the game that’s going to define our program.
“It might, it might not. I’m not that concerned about it. I’m more concerned about just the way we play the game.”
Sark went on to say that Alabama has no impact on his team’s goal for the year, which is to play for a Big 12 Championship.
“All along, my goal is to be in Dallas on December 3,” he said. “This game has no impact on that. … I want to play really well. I want to make sure that our guys play our style of football, our brand of football and do it the way I know we’re capable of doing it.”
While Alabama doesn’t play in the Big 12, a blowout loss certainly could have an impact on his team. After Texas lost to Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl last season, the Longhorns fell apart. It was a meltdown of epic proportions as Texas, who started 4-1 and was ranked No. 21 coming into the Red River game, would lose its next five games and win only once more all season, its finale against Kansas State.
If Alabama beats the breaks off of Texas, which is a real possibility, won’t the Longhorns be just one mess-up away from another pitfall?
Head coach Steve Sarkisian needs to understand that he is talking like he’s already lost the game, and that can’t sit well with fans, boosters, alumni, or his team. Now, perhaps behind closed doors he is telling his group that he doesn’t want to give Alabama any bulletin board material or something to that effect, but it sure didn’t seem that way. Texas needs confidence in who they are. That has been missing since Mack Brown left, but the talent hasn’t gone anywhere. Texas is arguably the most talented team in the Big 12 each and every year, but they have lost sight of who they are, and Sarkisian’s comments don’t help the matter.
Texas football is a proud brand with a proud history and that history has been tarnished over the last decade or so for one reason or another. This week, it has the chance to right a lot of wrongs if it could do the unthinkable and take down the Tide, but just keeping this game competitive would go a long, long way for Texas.If UT was able to hang on late into the game, but ultimately lose 38-35, it would instill more confidence in this program than we saw all of last season. Hell, a loss like that might work them into the Top 25 (I’m only half joking) in next week’s poll.
The saddest part about all of this is that there is no reason why a program like Texas shouldn’t be competitive with anyone in the country. They have the resources, facilities, support staff, and location to be a powerhouse year in and year out. Yet, here we are discussing how ugly things could get tomorrow. At some point, the tide has to come in for Texas, right?
I’m not saying that Texas can’t have success this season if it gets blown out by the Tide on Saturday, but a 51-20 loss in Week 2 wouldn’t look so good on an 8-4 record at the end of the year when Texas fans have been declaring that their Horns are back for months.