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Since he arrived in Austin, Steve Sarkisian has met with the media, started assembling his coaching staff, and received his first Texas Longhorns commitment for the 2022 cycle. And now, he’s facing his first bit of adversity as one of the top Longhorn running backs has made it clear he has no interest in sticking around and has entered the transfer portal. 

Steve Sarkisian’s coaching history

Steve Sarkisian has had more than a few ups and downs in his coaching career. After starting at El Camino College, where he also started his college playing career, Sarkisian joined Pete Carroll at USC in 2001. For the next seven years, he had two stints at USC with a stop as the Oakland Raiders quarterbacks coach sandwiched in between.

In 2009, Sarkisian landed his first head coaching gig at the University of Washington. With the Huskies, he turned around a winless program and made them respectable in the Pac-12, before returning to USC as the head coach in 2014. 

Sarkisian guided the Trojans to a 9-4 record and Holiday Bowl victory his first season but didn’t make it through his second year. USC fired him after he showed up to work intoxicated. 

Since that embarrassment, Steve Sarkisian has been on a rehabilitation tour. He returned to coaching in 2016 with Alabama as an analyst. A year later, he found himself as an offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons, where he stayed through 2018. In 2019, he returned to Alabama, where he has been the offensive coordinator the last two seasons.  

Texas Longhorns hire Steve Sarkisian as new coach

After losing his job at USC, Steve Sarkisian always envisioned himself becoming a head coach again. He was rumored to get the top job at various college football programs in the last few years, including Colorado and Auburn. 

When the Texas Longhorns fired Tom Herman, UT athletic director Chris Del Conte had seen what Sarkisian had accomplished during his last two seasons in Alabama, directing one of the best offenses in the nation both years. Del Conte offered him the job. Sarkisian accepted to coach the team he coached against in the 2005 national championship.  

“On Jan. 4, 2006, I was the USC quarterback coach when we played Texas in that famed national championship game,” Sarkisian said in a statement released by the University of Texas. “There has always been something special about Longhorn football, its history and traditions – not just on that day – and I could never have imagined that 15 years later, I would join the Longhorns as their head coach. This is a unique and compelling opportunity to lead this storied program to the next level, competing once again amongst the best in college football.”

Texas Longhorns top running back in 2019 enters transfer portal

Since arriving on Tuesday — a day after Alabama convincingly beat Ohio State 52-24 in the national championship game — Steve Sarkisian has been hard at work preparing for the 2021 Texas Longhorns season. He’s made multiple hires for his staff. Plus, he landed a 2022 top recruit, wide receiver Armani Winfield, who ranked in the top 50 and had offers from Florida, LSU, Ohio State, and USC. 

On Thursday, Sarkisian encountered his first challenge with the Longhorns when junior running back Keaontay Ingram entered the transfer portal. Ingram was the leading rusher for Texas back in 2019, finishing the season with 857 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. He added three touchdown receptions. 

To start the 2020 season, Ingram was one of the two main backs with Roschon Johnson. That all changed in the Big 12 opener against TCU when Ingram fumbled the ball on the TCU goal line late in the game and Texas lost. His confidence was shot and Herman began to incorporate more of true freshman running back Bijan Robinson into the mix.

By season’s end, Ingram was sidelined due to an injury, and Robinson received the bulk of the carries. The writing was on the wall for Ingram.

With Steve Sarkisian now in town, Ingram’s move isn’t surprising. Was his move isolated? Will others also be looking for a fresh start somewhere else? Time will tell.

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