From the moment his feet left the Campbell-Williams Field turf at Royal-Memorial Stadium back on Black Friday, Steve Sarkisian has been at work fixing all that went wrong in his debut season. And, boy, was there a lot of it. A 6-game losing streak, longest since the mid-1950s. A loss to Kansas. At home.
“When the season comes to an end, I evaluate everything in our program,” Sarkisian said in November. “And you ultimately do what’s in the best interest of the university and the program. And that’s to say I’m going to evaluate nutrition, strength and conditioning, your practice, our format, our schemes, our coaches, our players. That’s all-encompassing, and that’s part of the job."
Roughly two months removed from that comment, the results are evident.
-- Texas signed the No. 5 class in the country, per the 247Sports composite. (Anyone know the last time a 5-7 team signed a top-5 class?)
-- Not included in that ranking: Quinn Ewers, originally ranked the No. 1 overall player in the 2022 class, transferred in from Ohio State.
-- When Stan Drayton landed the Temple head job, Sarkisian hired Tashard Choice, recently hired by USC, to coach running backs. Wide receivers coach Andre Coleman was not retained, replaced by Pitt's Brennan Marion, who coached the reigning Biletnikoff Award winner.
Left unaddressed thus far -- curiously unaddressed, conspicuous in its absence -- is the defense. The defense that ranked 102nd in yards per play, 114th in rushing defense, 81st in passing efficiency, 101st in sacks, 102nd in third downs, 90th in the red zone, and 99th in scoring. The defense that surrendered 57 to Kansas. One of the worst defenses in school history, if not the worst. That defense.
Given everything else he's done since late November, it seemed impossible that Sarkisian would somehow miss the glaring hole staring him right in the face.
“(Texas) gave me the resources to go hire what in my opinion was arguably the best staff in the country, if not one of the top staffs in the country,” Sarkisian said back in November. “These guys didn’t forget to coach overnight. They’ve been doing it for a long time at a very high level. They’re championship-caliber coaches.”
They did not forget to coach as soon as they donned the burnt orange, it only looked that way when Texas took the field. Part of the problem likely laid in how Sark put them together: he hired D-line coach Bo Davis, corners coach Terry Joseph, and safeties coach Blake Gideon before hiring Pete Kwiatkowski. Kwiatkowski got to hire Jeff Choate to coach the linebackers, but other than that no one in the room had worked together previously, and the product looked like it. Texas often played like the left hand didn't know what the right hand was doing.
That brings us to Friday, when Jason Suchomel of Orangebloods reported this:
It remains to be seen, obviously, what sort of role Patterson would take if he trades his purple for orange, but the future College Football Hall of Famer has enough skins on the wall -- in defensive schematics, in toughness, in identification and development, in program-building -- that his expertise could be put to use anywhere and everywhere.
This is a developing story. Stay tuned to The Scoop for the latest.