Texas Longhorns first-year head coach Steve Sarkisian admitted to reporters in early August that the program's "bullseye got a little bit bigger" when they accepted an invitation to join the SEC and upended the college landscape.
And while there's undeniable pressure on Sarkisian to build a legitimate national title contender in Austin, Longhorns play-by-play voice Craig Way believes there's a refreshing sense of optimism around campus.
"There's a very positive feel, a real upbeat feel," Way told The DA Show on Tuesday. "Somebody asked me way on back what was my impression when I had my first sit-down with [Sarkisian], and I said relaxed -- very comfortable in his own skin, with his own personal battles that he's gone through... He's been through the war, he's been through the battles... He's quite comfortable with the things that've happened, and how it's prepared him for this moment.
"I think that's the vibe fans have all gotten, and they feel really good about what he can potentially build in Austin. It's not going to be an overnight fix -- no doubt about it -- but it's not like it needs complete overhaul... There's always that honeymoon thing that goes on with coaches, but this looks like it may be something that can stick for a while, because he seems to have a firm grasp of not only who he is, but where he wants this program to go."
Sarkisian, who spent the past two seasons as the offensive coordinator at Alabama, is replacing Tom Herman on the sideline. Although Texas finished a respectable 7-3 in 2020, the team ranked outside of the AP's Top 25 list at the end of the year, after climbing as high as No. 8.
Since losing to Alabama in the BCS national title game back in January 2010, Texas has achieved just one 10-win season. They also haven't won a Big 12 conference championship since 2009, and in four seasons under Herman, they finished inside the AP top-10 only once.
No. 21 Texas will open the 2021 season at home against No. 23 Louisiana on Saturday, Sept. 4. According to the William Hill Sportsbook, the Longhorns currently have the third-best odds (+450) to win the Big 12 conference title and the 11th-best odds (+5000) to win the national championship.
The entire Texas Longhorns conversation with Way can be accessed in the audio player above.