A major level of excitement has filled the air around the Texas Longhorns football program recently, but coach Steve Sarkisian is still focused on what went wrong last season in order to avoid a repeat of disappointment.
At the San Antonio stop for the Texas Fight Tour Monday, he spoke at length about some of the logistical shortcomings he experienced during his first season as head coach and how a culture change is necessary for year two.
Gary Patterson (left) and Steve Sarkisian
“We had eight months and if you really, really want to critique a program, you have to look at that program from A to Z,” Sarkisian said. “Where I failed, quite frankly, in our program, is I failed at connecting with our team and our team connecting with one another at this time last year."
Was it a lack of camaraderie in the locker room? Was the team uncertain about a new system and regime? No. Sarkisian seemed quite honest when admitting the missed opportunities to establish a strong connection with his players as a result of construction in the south end zone of Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.
"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," he said. "That’s what culture is, right? That’s what we’re talking about and that has to grow organically.
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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 of the concourse in the north end zone where that big bar is. You know where Tito’s sign is? (Where) the Deep Eddy sign is? That was right behind me with a pop-up screen and our players were in card table chairs. Then, the position coaches met with their players in the suites on the eighth floor."
The team seemed settled into the completely renovated DKR after the Orange-White game. The beautifully designed south end zone provides a sleek walkway for the players to travel without having any disruptions in the daily routine that previous construction may have caused.
After an abysmal 5-7 season, some will point to Sarkisian's honest explanation as an excuse for a lack of positive chemistry between the roster and coaching staff. But instead of choosing to not give a direct answer about negatives from a season ago, Sarkisian stayed honest about the situation and how to move forward, something that should give Texas fans hope headed into September.
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