Texas AD defends Sarkisian, urges fans not to ‘splinter’

Texas athletic director Chris Del Conte urged Texas fans on Tuesday not to "splinter or pull apart" but rather support first-year football coach Steve Sarkisian and the players during the program’s worst losing streak in 65 years.

"I know we’re all really disappointed, and there’s a lot being said, but this is not a time to splinter or pull apart in any way. We need to stay positive and remain united as a Longhorn Family," Del Conte wrote in his weekly message.

"We know there are better days ahead, and I know y’all will continue to be the wind beneath our wings to help lead us there," Del Conte wrote.

Texas, which began the season ranked No 21, has lost five straight. That includes last week’s 57-56 overtime loss to Kansas, which hadn’t won on the road in the Big 12 since 2008, a streak of 56 games.

Texas’ skid is the program’s worst since a 1-9 season in 1956. The Longhorns must win their final two games against West Virginia and Kansas State to become eligible for a bowl.

Del Conte wrote more than 700 words defending Sarkisian, his staff and the players. The message noted the high rate of attrition from highly ranked recruiting classes in 2018 and 2019; a flu outbreak that kept more than 25 players out of practice part of last week; and season-ending injuries to tailback Bijan Robinson and defensive back Josh Thompson.

"This isn’t to cast any blame or make excuses; it’s just factual that we have some real depth issues," Del Conte wrote.

He also strongly suggested that Sarkisian won’t be asked to make changes to his staff in the offseason. Sarkisian is in the first year of a six-year guaranteed contract that’s worth about $34 million.

"We have a group of coaches who are proven and have a wealth of experience. They have all succeeded at the highest level. They will help us do that here, too. The guys are fighting their butts off on the field, and we have a really good group of student-athletes giving it all they have," Del Conte wrote.

Sarkisian, a former head coach at Washington and Southern California, was the offensive coordinator the previous two seasons at Alabama and won the 2020 national championship with the Crimson Tide.

He moved to Austin after Texas fired Tom Herman after four winning seasons and four bowl wins but no Big 12 championships.

"Coach Sark is building a culture, he has a tremendous group of coaches with him, and we are providing every ounce of support we can muster to help them redirect our program," Del Conte wrote.