'Eyes of Texas' Controversy: Longhorns Coach Sark Reveals Thoughts

As "The Eyes of Texas" remains a sensitive subject, Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian weighs in.
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Controversy has arisen among the University of Texas and its boosters. As days to weeks turn to months, "The Eyes of Texas" remains a subject of conversation, with both sides bringing arguments to the table in their case. 

The song became a high-profile subject of controversy for the university last summer when athletes and other students urged the school to discontinue playing it due to its race-based origins.  

Earlier this year, the University of Texas released a 57-page report, examining the history of the song. However, it also has been reported that multiple boosters would stop supporting the school financially should the song be removed. 

Even before his arrival, Texas has been in the spotlight with the song and the decision to play it next season after football games. On Thursday, Steve Sarkisian weighed in on the situation. 

"We've had some really quality dialogue, which I think is has been important and we'll continue to," Sarkisian told reporters. "I think is of the understanding of 'OK, now things have been laid out on the table, what's the direction we want to go in as a team, how do we do it as a unified front, as a unified team doing it together.'" 

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Last month, the Texas Tribune reported that dozens of UT donors threatened to pull funds if the university got rid of the song. On Thursday, the Tribune reported that Colt McCoy, quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals and all-time leader in wins, was among the donors last June to pressure university leaders to keep the song. 

All and all, the Tribune tallied over 550 emails in response to the potential case. 

Last season, it was reported that Texas athletic officials told Longhorns players they had to remain on the field postgame for the playing of the song. The reason? Donors were becoming upset that players were protesting the playing of the song. 

Former defensive back Caden Sterns tweeted last month that he and several players were "threatened by alumni" and would not receive help finding work should they not participate in the singing of the song. 

That will be something Sarkisian plans on addressing this season. 

"In one aspect, fortunately for us, we're not playing (this) Saturday," Sarkisian said. "So we have a little bit more time to make sure we are all on the same page with the direction we are going to go in. I feel good about that." 

On Monday, Black state lawmakers, the Texas NAACP, civil rights leaders, and multiple students denounced the decision by the university to keep the song. Texas officials have yet to respond on the status of if the song will be played this upcoming season.

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Sarkisian said the key component to making sure the message is clear is not just with the players, but also with the coaching staff. It must be consistent, not just internally with the team and its beliefs, but also when it comes to recruiting. 

As of now, Sarkisian does not see that as an issue internally. 

"I think we've gotten to a point as a program and obviously as a university where we understand what "The Eyes" represents, but also moving forward what it can represent for our program and for this university moving forward," Sarkisian said. "I think a lot of those things are going to be a positive for us as long as we stick together." 

For the players and their concerns, Sarkisian is listening. Their voices, per his plan, will be heard and together, they will decide what to do as a team.

And the voices? They now are speaking up. 

Said Sarkisian: "We've got good leadership on our team. We've got really good voices and I think we have a lot of respect for one another on our team, which are all components to being a good football team and handling issues like this as they come. I think the last thing we want to do in a situation like this is ignore it or act like it's just going to go away because it's not."

The Orange-White scrimmage will kick off at 1 p.m on April 24, concluding Texas' spring practice for 2021. And the decisions that continue from there will be about more than just football.

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