Playing a de facto home game as three-point favorites, Thursday night’s Alamo Bowl in San Antonio (80 miles south of UT’s Austin campus) couldn’t have gone much worse for the Longhorns, dropping their season finale to 12th-ranked Washington by a final count of 27-20. Emblematic of a frustrating game that Texas never led, coach Steve Sarkisian came all the way unglued, incensed at being held back by a production staffer readying the field for pregame introductions.
While many on social media were quick to defend Sarkisian, dismissing his outburst as little more than a case of pregame jitters, others weren’t as forgiving, demanding accountability from a coach with a volatile past, flaming out in spectacular fashion at USC years earlier.
As the face of one of the most visible institutions in college football, Sarkisian is under unique pressure, answering to boosters and a rabid fan base with championship expectations. But even if we’re willing to cut him some slack, Sarkisian’s profanity-laced tirade is still a bad look for a coach with plenty to prove, coming off, at best, as unprofessional and, at worst, an abusive tyrant with a dangerously short fuse. You can learn a lot from a person by how they treat strangers (particularly in positions of lesser authority), and Sarkisian certainly didn’t pass the sniff test here, lashing out at a crew member for having the audacity to do his job.
Between Sarkisian’s viral tantrum and the controversy surrounding Chris Beard (suspended indefinitely for his domestic violence arrest earlier this month), Texas coaches have done a poor job representing the university of late, both bringing negative attention to their respective programs. Despite impressive performances against eventual conference champion Kansas State and Oklahoma, the Longhorns left plenty of meat on the bone this season, going 8-5 with losses to winnable opponents including Texas Tech and Oklahoma State. Next year could be the school’s final season in the Big 12 with momentum building for Texas to join the SEC as early as 2024.