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Texas, Sarkisian look forward to early test against Alabama, Saban

By Laken Litman
FOX Sports College Football Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas — One of the marquee matchups this upcoming season will probably be when Alabama travels to Austin to play Texas on Sept. 10 (noon ET on FOX and the FOX Sports app). 

The Week 2 sport would be the first time Longhorns coach Steve Sarkisian will face Nick Saban, his former boss and mentor, since leaving the Crimson Tide in 2021. 

Sarkisian has taken lots of what he realized engaged on Saban’s employees at two totally different factors in his profession and carried out these issues at Texas. For instance, he employed Gary Patterson to be a particular assistant when Patterson resigned from TCU after 22 years as its head coach. 

Saban is well-known for reviving teaching careers, together with Sarkisian’s. 

After Sarkisian was fired by USC in 2015 due to off-field points involving alcohol, Saban gave him a second likelihood and employed him as an offensive analyst in 2016. He was promoted to offensive coordinator for the 2017 nationwide title sport after Lane Kiffin abruptly left the crew early to turn out to be the pinnacle coach at Florida Atlantic. 

Then after two seasons in the identical function with the Atlanta Falcons, Sarkisian returned to Alabama and received the Broyles Award because the nation’s prime assistant. 

“Without Nick Saban, I would not be sitting right here as we speak in entrance of y’all,” Sarkisian mentioned Thursday at Big 12 media days exterior Dallas. “I owe an incredible deal to him. I owe a lot to him, and I’ll by no means, ever overlook that he and Ms. Terry have been large in my life and my spouse’s life and what they’ve carried out for us on and off the sector. 

“With that being mentioned, I can not wait to play them as a result of I do know what he places into it. I do know the work ethic, I do know the self-discipline that he has personally. I do know what he instills into his group, into that crew. I feel in the end that is what you strive to take if you go away Alabama, as a result of you possibly can’t strive to be Nick Saban; there’s just one. 

“You have to be Steve Sarkisian. But the self-discipline and dedication that he has instilled into his crew and into his personal group is one thing that you just strive to emulate. I cherished my time there with him. I cherished my time there with him and am trying forward to taking part in him in Week 2.” 

Later, Sarkisian was requested what it is going to be like shaking fingers with Saban at midfield earlier than kickoff. What will they discuss? 

“I’m certain there will probably be some pleasantries about Ms. Terry or [Sarkisian’s wife] Ms. Loreal. And then he’ll in all probability level out our new south finish zone as a result of that wasn’t right here because the final time he in all probability checked out our stadium,” he mentioned.

“And then in the long run, it is going to be that awkward handshake of like, we’re wishing one another luck, however we’re not, after which we’ll go play the sport, and we’ll see what occurs.”

Here are another takeaways from Big 12 media days this week:

“The hearth hose is absolutely inserted in my mouth right here” 

Brent Venables gave his first media day press convention as Oklahoma‘s head coach. This is Venables second stint in Norman, beforehand serving as this system’s defensive coordinator from 1999-2011 earlier than going to Clemson in the identical function. 

This is his first head teaching gig, regardless of having been one of many hottest names in teaching carousels for years. 

“I really feel very ready for this second,” Venables mentioned Thursday, whereas later including that the final seven months have “been identical to you’d count on, the hearth hose is absolutely inserted in my mouth right here, and we have been blowing and going.” 

Venables defined he’s training endurance in constructing this program given how a lot manufacturing OU misplaced on either side of the ball. This Oklahoma crew misplaced shut to 400 profession begins from final yr’s crew, and Venables mentioned 40 % of the roster has by no means placed on a Sooners jersey. 

That consists of new beginning quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who transferred from UCF

“Dillon Gabriel is a winner,” Venables mentioned. “You cannot say it any higher than that. He’s thrown for 8,000 yards, accomplished over 60 % of his passes, unbelievable touchdown-to-interception ratio, only a nice chief. He’s our quarterback. 

“Certainly something can occur as we transfer forward by way of fall camp. It’s at all times about each day competitors. But I really feel nice. I can lay my head down at night time realizing not simply what he has carried out on the soccer subject however the high quality of the particular person he’s.”

“We’ve solely simply begun”

If you’ve got by no means heard a Karen Carpenter reference at a school soccer media occasion, properly, there is a first time for every little thing. 

Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy mentioned he heard the 1970 hit music “We’ve solely simply begun” the opposite day and “the very first thing I considered was convention realignment.” 

As one does. 

Gundy obtained a number of laughs with that remark earlier than going into extra of his ideas on realignment. 

He was requested about the way forward for Bedlam and if he envisioned a state of affairs through which Oklahoma State and Oklahoma would proceed taking part in their annual rivalry sport even after OU strikes to the SEC by 2025. 

“The way forward for Bedlam is there is a yr or two left,” Gundy mentioned. “I imply, that is the way forward for Bedlam, primarily based on any person else’s determination.” 

He later mentioned that persevering with the sequence in all probability is not logistically possible given how far prematurely packages have to schedule opponents, regardless of how a lot followers would love to see the sport performed. 

And it would not have been media days in 2022 if Gundy did not have a jab for Oklahoma and Texas. He jokingly mentioned that if he have been the convention’s commissioner, he would not allow them to into any Big 12 conferences. 

“We go to convention conferences, and OU and Texas are in there,” Gundy mentioned. “They’re nonetheless within the convention. But I’m guessing after they go away, they’re scratching down issues that may assist them after they’re within the SEC. So, it’s an uncommon scenario.”

The Big 12 is “open for enterprise”

Brett Yormark made his first public feedback since his new job as Big 12 commissioner was introduced two weeks in the past. 

The 55-year-old was most not too long ago the chief working officer for Roc Nation, an leisure company based by hip-hop mogul Jay-Z, and he beforehand served in govt roles with the Brooklyn Nets and NASCAR

Beginning Aug. 1, he would be the Big 12 commissioner. 

While Yormark enters faculty sports activities at a singular time, his hiring infuses recent perspective and elegance to a convention with an unsettled future amidst the sprawling and mighty SEC and Big Ten. 

Yormark at all times envisioned working in faculty athletics — although he assumed it could be as an athletic director — and has a ardour for it. 

Now he has accepted the problem of main a Big 12 that’s about to lose bluebloods Texas and Oklahoma. 

“There is little question the Big 12 is open for enterprise,” Yormark mentioned in his opening remarks. “We will go away no stone unturned to drive worth for the convention. We will probably be daring and humble, aggressive and considerate, and progressive and artistic, all in an effort to place the convention in a method that not solely grows the Big 12 model and enterprise, however makes us a bit extra up to date. 

“One factor is crystal clear: There isn’t any larger precedence than to finest place the Big 12 for its upcoming multimedia rights negotiations. Everything we do should create momentum for these negotiations.” 

Yormark understands he wants to enhance the marketability of his convention and mentioned a number of instances he desires to place the Big 12 to be “youthful, hipper and cooler.” What which means, we do not know but, however the phrases got here from a man who labored with Jay-Z. 

He additionally understands there will probably be a real-time studying curve, however firmly believes his background is fitted to the function. This, in fact, consists of potential realignment, and Yormark mentioned he’s “actively engaged” in these discussions, although any potential growth in convention membership would have to be an “additive and never a dilutive.” 

“I feel it is truthful to say I’ve obtained lots of telephone calls, lots of curiosity,” Yormark mentioned. “People perceive the route of the Big 12, and we’re exploring ranges of curiosity. Nothing is imminent, however we’re working exhausting to guarantee that we place the Big 12 in the absolute best method on a go-forward foundation.” 

What occurs subsequent — within the Big 12 and in faculty soccer as a complete — will undoubtedly have Yormark’s mark on it. 

Laken Litman covers faculty soccer, faculty basketball and soccer for FOX Sports. She beforehand coated faculty soccer, faculty basketball, the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and the Olympics at Sports Illustrated, USA Today and The Indianapolis Star. Her first e-book, written in partnership with Rizzoli and Sports Illustrated and titled “Strong Like a Woman,” was printed in spring 2022 marking the fiftieth anniversary of Title IX.

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