Steve Sarkisian Expects To Win Big 12 Title In Final Year: “Great Send-Off”

Not since 2009 have expectations been so high for the Texas Longhorns. The team is entering the upcoming college football season as the overwhelming preseason favorite to win the Big 12 conference.

Coach Steve Sarkisian expressed his desire to capture the championship, hoping it would serve as a memorable send-off before Texas moves to the SEC in 2024.

“I’d be lying if I wasn’t saying that I want to win a championship,” Sarkisian revealed in an interview with ESPN. “There’s no question, and I feel like I’ve had good teams in the past. I haven’t been able to do it.”

“When you get into coaching, I’m a highly competitive guy. I would love to win a championship. I would love to win a championship our last year in the Big 12.”

The Longhorns last clinched a Big 12 title in 2009, marking a 13-year drought, the longest in school history since joining a conference in 1915. However, this year, all indicators, be it computer models, betting markets, or media polls, point towards Texas as the favorite.

In a historic turn of events, the media selected the Longhorns to win the conference title for the first time since the Big 12 switched to a division-less format.

Among the media voters, Texas received 41 first-place votes and a total of 886 points. Kansas State, the reigning Big 12 champion, secured the second spot with 14 first-place votes and 858 points.

ESPN’s Football Power Index grants the Longhorns a 54% chance of securing the Big 12 title, making them the team with the second-highest probability of winning their respective conference in the FBS. Only Ohio State in the Big Ten holds a higher chance at 71%.

Entering his third season as head coach, Sarkisian’s 2022 season resulted in an 8-5 record, with all five losses decided by seven points or fewer.

It marked only the second time in the past nine years that Texas achieved eight wins in the regular season. Sarkisian’s inaugural season with the Longhorns in 2021 ended with a 5-7 record.

Sarkisian noted that the difference this season is the team’s commitment to action, saying, “Those within the program are not just feeling it, they’re taking action.”

He also expressed his hopes for a memorable exit from the Big 12, stating, “It’d be a great send-off. The Big 12 and Texas have been great partners for decades. For us to try to get into that game at the end of the year as a send-off would be awesome.”

However, the Longhorns face the challenge of evolving their offense following the departure of their star tailbacks to the NFL. Bijan Robinson, selected eighth overall by the Atlanta Falcons, and Roschon Johnson, drafted by the Chicago Bears in the fourth round, have left significant gaps in the running game.

Sarkisian indicated that the team will likely rely more on the passing game this season due to the absence of the two star tailbacks, coinciding with the development of quarterback Quinn Ewers.

The Longhorns also boast a talented wide receiver room, including first-team All-Big 12 wide receiver Xavier Worthy and Georgia transfer AD Mitchell.

“We felt like we had to evolve our passing game to get back to where I’m accustomed to doing it,” Sarkisian explained. “Our ability to throw the football now is going to be able to be back to where we like it to be.”

Ewers, who brings both physical and mental growth to the team, has displayed a heightened awareness at the line of scrimmage.

Jokingly, he mentioned that last season, he was primarily concerned about remembering the plays, but this season, his focus is on dissecting opposing defenses by identifying fronts and tendencies.

“Generally and historically, Year 2 in our system is where you take that big step,” Sarkisian affirmed. “And we’re seeing it out of him. We’re seeing it in his preparation. He’s in great physical condition, and his understanding of what we’re doing is at a high level.”

Are you buying Texas as the Big 12 favorite this season?

Could they potentially be a dark-horse playoff team?

Is Quinn Ewers the real deal – or are Longhorn fans anxiously waiting for Arch Manning to take over?