Texas' Steve Sarkisian: Longhorns' 'Bulls-eye Got a Little Bit Bigger' Post-SEC Move

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 5, 2021

AUSTIN, TEXAS - APRIL 24: Head coach Steve Sarkisian of the Texas Longhorns reacts during the Texas Football Orange-White Spring Game at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on April 24, 2021 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Tim Warner/Getty Images

Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian acknowledged his job probably got a little tougher with the Longhorns' 2025 move to the SEC.

Sarkisian told reporters Thursday the program's profile already made it a prominent target. Now, the hostility is likely to be increased with Texas helping to upend the college sports landscape.

"I think coming out of [the SEC move] and the talk of what's happened, our bull's-eye got a little bit bigger. We can't be naive to that," he said. "Whether it's crowd noise, whether it's yelling at us on the bench, whether it's the 'Horns Down' signal, all those things are really irrelevant to our ability to execute and succeed at a really high level.

One thing that works to Texas' benefit is that a lot of people root for the Longhorns to win. And perhaps an even larger number of people root for the Longhorns to lose. That's how the school raked in $223.9 million in revenue over the 2018-19 school year, the highest in the country.

Now, Texas is potentially positioning itself to be one of the faces of the super-conference era. The amount of potential schadenfreude will be off the charts.

Whether that remains the case over the long term might hinge on the Longhorns' success in the SEC.

Since losing to Alabama in the BCS National Championship in January 2010, Texas has just one 10-win season. That 2009 campaign is also the last time the team won a conference championship.

Still, the "Texas is back!" discourse illustrates how the Longhorns are often perceived as a genuine threat to win the Big 12 in any given season. That helps to magnify the setbacks they experience because the defeats seem to carry real stakes.

If Texas ultimately becomes a bit of an also-ran in the SEC, then the whole thing could get a bit rote and the bull's-eye Sarkisian referenced goes away. 

Miami doesn't have the same kind of history as the Longhorns, but the Hurricanes teams of the 1980s and 1990s were arguably some of the most polarizing ever in college football. Now, national interest in Miami football is minimal as the program fell from prominence.

The same can be said to some extent of USC the longer the Trojans tread water after the Pete Carroll era.

Maybe Texas is simply too big to fail in that it will always generate strong reactions either positive or negative. Going to the SEC could put that theory to the test.