ARLINGTON -- Steve Sarkisian is the new man on campus in the Big 12. Perhaps it'll take him time to adjust to life in a conference always trying to prove they can contend.
If anyone understands the pressure that comes with coaching on the Forty Acres, Gary Patterson would be the first. The TCU coach has seen a pair of highly regarded names come into Austin and be fired for lack of success.
The expectations won't be any different for Sarkisian despite entering his first year — Patterson knows that far too well.
"Texas is a hard job," Patterson said at Big 12 Media Days on Wednesday. "You have to be a CEO. We all know that, we watched it."
Most head coaches could say their careers are defined in the CEO mentality. Any CEO that fails to live up to the expectation will be let go by a board of directors, allowing someone who they feel is more qualified to step in.
Charlie Strong was tasked with replacing Mack Brown, the program's No. 2 coach in wins behind Darrell Royal. Three years was enough to pull the plug after one winning season in conference play and one winning season overall.
Tom Herman's run as the chief operating officer saw better results, but when games mattered most, the stocks plummeted. In four years, the former Houston coach went 4-0 in bowl games. In his second season, the Longhorns took down Oklahoma for the first time since 2015.
The team finished inside the top 10 for the first time in 2007. That would be the end of positives for the "can't-miss" hire of 2017. Herman would never defeat the Sooners again, and the team found ways to blow leads late.
That ultimately forced Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte to go in a different direction. Herman finished 32-18 in Austin, with a few gem wins and plenty of questions surrounding the program.
Those now must be answered by Sark — and the sooner it can, the better for the program's future.
"I wish him the best because it's dealing with everything you got to deal with moving forward," Patterson said.
One of the biggest factors in moving off Herman was the success of Alabama's offense. As the offensive coordinator, Sarkisian helped implement one of the game's most dynamic offenses college football has ever seen.
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The Tide averaged 541.6 yards per game (fourth-most in FBS), along with a Power 5-high 48.5 points per game. DeVonta Smith became the first wide receiver since Desmond Howard to win the Heisman, and Mac Jones set an FBS record in completion rating (76.2 percent) while leading the nation in passing touchdowns (41) and passing yards (4,500).
No pressure to duplicate that success in Year 1, right?
"Steve has done a great job offensively," West Virginia coach Neal Brown said. "As far as how it affects the Big 12, probably not in a big way."
The Longhorns have the pieces to improve the numbers in Sark's first season. Jordan Whittington is expected to have a breakout year. A healthy Troy Omerie adds a vertical option downfield. Texas will return leading receiver, Joshua Moore.
Of course, they also have Bijan Robinson leading the way in the backfield. If anyone knows how to use running backs, it'll be Sarkisian after his transformation with Najee Harris as a passer.
"You're talking about a guy who has coached at Washington and USC and been the OC for the Atlanta Falcons," Iowa State coach Matt Campbell said. "It raises that level of excellence for the program moving forward."
Washington warmed Sarkisian up for USC. The Trojans warmed him up for Texas. Much like Herman, winning early can set the tone.
A down campaign in 2021 could put a simmer on the seat. Another bad year could turn it to boiling.
If anything, Sarkisian's success in Tuscaloosa has provided another opportunity for him to rebrand Texas in the "All Gas No Brakes" approach. It also gives the conference another high-profile name to a list of talented play-callers.
"I think he adds to the roster of coaches, which I think is already at an extremely high level," Brown said.
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