Longhorns make huge mistake with Sark contract and Texas A&M football fans love it

The in-state rivals for Texas A&M football are repeating mistakes that seem very familiar to Aggie fans.

Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian walks the sideline during the Big 12 Championship game
Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian walks the sideline during the Big 12 Championship game / Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman /
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Longhorns repeat Texas A&M football's Jimbo mistake by guaranteeing Sark huge new contract

In a move that seems all-too-familiar to Texas A&M football fans, the Longhorns announced today that they are extending their head coach with a huge amount of guaranteed money after a highly successful third year. Sarkisian's salary is now above 10 million yearly, and this extension adds around $56 million in guaranteed money.

This, of course, is the latest in a long line of similarities between Sarkisian and the recently-fired Jimbo Fisher. Aggie fans understood this immediately. There are several differences, to be clear—some of which favor the Longhorn coach, and some of which favor Fisher.

For example, Sarkisian has yet to win a bowl game, while Jimbo was undefeated in his three—including a New Year's Six win in the Orange Bowl. Jimbo's best season included only one loss (to the eventual national champions), while Sark's best included two losses. The Texas coach has won his conference and did make the CFP, which Jimbo was unable to accomplish, but both of those facts had more to do with circumstances outside each coach's control than what they actually accomplished on the field.

Had Trevor Lawrence not been ruled out of the first game Clemson played against Notre Dame due to health and safety protocols, for example, then the Aggies play in the 2020 Playoff. Had an incomplete pass been correctly ruled in the Georgia-Alabama SEC championship this past year, then Texas doesn't make the CFP. You get the picture.

Even so, simply making the CFP isn't a feather in your cap. How many banners have been hung for making an NFL conference title game, or NBA conference finals? How many Bills fans do you hear bragging about making four straight Super Bowls?

Here's the main point: this is way too big of an overreaction to one good season, just like with what happened to the Aggies under Jimbo. Now, with Sark walking into the SEC, the Horns could be in for a rude awakening. The head man in Austin has done a better job than anyone since Mack Brown at capitalizing on the talent advantage his team has over everyone else in the Big 12, but the results have still been far too disappointing relative to what they should be.

Don't believe me? How's this: through his first three years, Jimbo was 26-10. Sark is 25-14. The Aggies were favored in 26 of those 36 games; the Longhorns were favored in 35 of 39.

This next year is where the rubber meets the road for Sark. Count me as a skeptic; far too often, his teams, by all rights, should have lost to squads with far inferior talent (and, in his first year, they did). The problem is that the squads with far inferior talent in the SEC are far more talented than those in the Big 12. We're talking Mississippi State, Kentucky, and South Carolina rather than Iowa State, Baylor, and Kansas. If you sleepwalk against these teams, you pay the price.

The proof will be in the pudding in 2024. The SEC did a big favor to the Horns with their scheduling in this first, transition year. Even so, I'd be shocked if they can eclipse nine wins. And if that happens, there will be a lot of questions being asked down in Austin—especially if (and when) they lose to Texas A&M football this November.

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