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Steve Sarkisian Quotes Nick Saban After Praise, Says Texas Must Avoid 'Rat Poison'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 12, 2022

Tim Warner/Getty Images

Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian borrowed a line from Nick Saban after his team nearly upset Alabama on Saturday, losing 20-19 on the Crimson Tide's game-winning field goal with just 10 seconds remaining.

"First of all, to quote my old boss, we've got to be careful of the rat poison of people telling us how good we are, which is important," Sarkisian told reporters.

"A week ago, everyone told us how bad we were. Now this week, everyone wants to tell us how good we are. We've got to be careful to quiet the noise outside of our building and focus on us."

Back in 2017, Saban categorized positive media coverage of his team as "rat poison."

"I'm trying to get our players to listen to me instead of listening to you guys," he told reporters. "All that stuff you write about how good we are, and all that stuff they hear on ESPN, it's like poison. It's like taking poison ... like rat poison. So, I'm asking them, 'Are you going to listen to me, or are you going to listen to these guys about how good you are?'"

Texas, which has started the season 1-1, will next face a tough UTSA team that went 12-2 last season and finished as Conference USA champions. The Roadrunners are not an opponent the Longhorns can afford to look past.

"I definitely wanted to address it because, you know, I'm getting the text messages too," Sarkisian said. "I'm getting the phone calls. 'Hey, you guys are great, man. You look great,' this and that. Thanks, but you know, we got more work to do."

Sarkisian, 48, is trying to reverse years of mediocrity at Texas. Since Mack Brown's final season in 2013, the Longhorns have had four losing seasons—including 5-7 last year in Sarkisian's debut—and just one year reaching 10 wins.

Charlie Strong was just 16-21 in his three seasons. Tom Herman improved on that, going 32-18, but didn't manage to win a Big-12 title in his four years on the job. For a proud Texas program, the past decade—combined with Oklahoma's dominance—has been a tough pill to swallow.

The supposed "rat poison" of praise might go down a bit easier initially for this Texas team, but as Saban once warned and now Sarkisian has echoed, the long-term effects could be toxic.

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