IT Today: Steve Sarkisian discusses mishap in connecting to team in 2021

Joe Cook05/11/22
Steve Sarkisian (Will Gallagher/Inside Texas)

Welcome to Inside Texas Today! On weekdays, Inside Texas Today will provide the latest on Texas Longhorns sports from around the Forty Acres. This morning, looking at Steve Sarkisian’s recent comments about connecting with the team ahead of his first season, and his failures in that area.

Here’s the Wednesday, May 11, 2022 edition.

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“… I failed in connecting with our team, and our team connecting with one another…”

Speaking in San Antonio at the Texas Fight Tour put on by the Texas Exes, Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian spoke to the gathered crowd at The Rustic about several topics. When speaking about last year’s struggles, Sarkisian admitted an area of first-year program-building he failed to properly cultivate.

Due to ongoing construction on the south end zone project this time last year, time spent as a whole team together was very limited for the first-year coach and his staff.

“I was told we had a new facility, but when I got to the job we weren’t going to move into the new facility until August,” Sarkisian said Monday. “So we had eight months, and if you really want to critique a program, you have to look at that program from A to Z. Where I failed, quite frankly, in our program is I failed in connecting with our team, and our team connecting with one another at this time last year.

“Why and how did that happen? We were in the north end zone. I was on the seventh floor up in a cubicle. Our players were down in the visiting locker room. We would meet as a team on the eighth floor on the concourse on the north end zone where that big bar is. Know where that Tito’s sign is and that Deep Eddy sign is? That was right behind me with a pop up screen, and our players were in card table chairs.

“Then, our position coaches met with the players in the suites on the eighth floor. We didn’t have a natural place to really connect with our players, and I failed in that spot because I didn’t generate enough opportunity for our team to grow as one. Because that’s what culture is. That’s what we’re talking about. That has to grow organically.”

Throughout the course of the spring, both Sarkisian and Texas players noted how much better the culture and the locker room was entering this year as opposed to its status during the 2021 season.

“Fast forward to being in the south end zone now, which is a beautiful place and thank you all who helped make that happen, it’s an unbelievable facility for us to be part of,” Sarkisian said. “I see our players every day. I eat with our players for breakfast every morning. They’re upstairs in my office, or the weight room, the training room, the locker room, it’s all connected as one. The player lounge, they don’t go anywhere. They’re connected as a team. Naturally, when they take the field, you just feel a sense of accountability. A sense of ‘I want to do it not for me. I want to do it for the guy next to me because I know how hard he’s working. I know what he’s putting into the program.’ With all that being said, that’s the key to the drill, and we’re doing it with a lot of new faces.”

Inside Texas will be in Dallas this evening for the second stop of the Texas Fight Tour.