Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian is aware of the football mountain that must be scaled. Rope in one hand, axe in the other. Foothold by foothold.
Frankly, given the circumstances that led to the exit of his predecessor Tom Herman, the first foothold would be to make sure to not lose to Iowa State.
And the top of the mountain would be to be the equal of Alabama, in every way.
But in between and along the climb? The University of Texas needs to conquer the Oklahoma Sooners in their recruiting war.
To open 2021, of course, Sark got a late start. “What we did is really try to get again and establish and analyze as quickly as we could our current roster and our current roster management,” Sarkisian said in review on College Football Live Saturday. “And then we tried to fill in those next 19 kids that signed in December and where they fit on the roster. And then we tried to dig into where are real needs on the roster here moving forward ... We left ourselves a little bit of wiggle room (for transfers).''
"Needs'' and "wiggle room'' is not exactly the same as, "We kicked Sooner butt.'' But Sarkisian's initial focus here was to salvage the 2021 class, while also preparing for the next cycle. And "salvage'' - again, not the sort of word used in grand headlines - the Longhorns did do.
The good news is that National Signing Day saw UT finishing with the No. 16 class overall, as well as the No. 2 class in the Big 12 conference.
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The bad news, specifically? The Horns landed just one recruit from the SI99 player rankings.
The bad news, generally? Finishing "No. 2 in the Big 12'' isn't good enough, especially as long as OU finishes No. 1.
The Sooners, who finished with the No. 12 class in the country, and pulled in five signatures from the SI99 rankings, a group led by the No. 1. overall player in the nation in quarterback Caleb Williams.
Sark is fresh off the Tuscaloosa campus, and has a newly-minted title ring to show for it. So when it comes to climbing that championship mountain, he knows the ropes. And the axe. And the footholds.
Step by step. Inch by inch. Recruits. Roster. Practices. Games.
"Texas Beats Oklahoma''? Not last October. Not this February. But if Sark can engineer this climb just right ... Maybe next October. And then maybe next February, and an accelerated move up the mountain.
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