AUSTIN, Texas - The UT football season kicks off Saturday, Sept. 2 at DKR. However, a lot of scrambling is already being done by head coach Steve Sarkisian because of a slogan he chose for his team this year.
"As we said before, and I've been asked, I get asked about it, we've got to embrace the hate," said Sarkisian.
Coach Sarkisian, during his Monday press briefing, explained the phrase "Embrace the Hate" is a response to the negative reaction to the university by opposing fans. The ill-will has intensified, especially after UT Austin announced the move from the Big 12 to the SEC.
Photo courtesy: Co-Op website
"You can't just sit back and keep taking punches, and its just OK," said Sarkisian.
The "Embrace the Hate" slogan ended up on T-shirts and are offered for sale by the university bookstore known as the Co-Op. On social media, Athletic Director Chris Del Conte seemed to endorse the merchandise.
But this football battle cry has also triggered a backlash. Some called it a "hateful use of the Longhorn brand" while others said it appears to support white supremacy. Most of the students who spoke to FOX 7 described the T-shirts as a tough lesson in marketing.
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"It just seems at first glance, like weird timing. Bad timing," said a UT Student.
Another student said she understood what brought it about.
"I kind of like ‘Embrace the Hate’ because we see so many colleges with, like, putting their Horns down. I don't know," said the student.
Others said the controversy is only an example of bad marketing, and an overreaction.
Inside the Co-Op, the T-shirts were nowhere to be found. All sales apparently were done online. As of Monday afternoon, the product link on the store website was no longer available.
A Google search does provide several sites that continue to offer the shirts for sale. The marketing director for the university co-op was out of the office today, and not available for comment.
Officials with the university could not say if more of the "Embrace the Hate" T-shirts will go on sale at the co-op later.
"A lot has been made about a T-shirt being made, let’s not make this more than it is, this is about us, we are focused on what we get to do and why we get to do it. We are proud to be part of the University of Texas, OK we are proud to represent burnt orange and white. We’re proud to represent 550,000 living the one night, we are proud to represent for national championships teams. We are proud to get to go do that, and we know who is behind us, and that’s OK. Now let’s go play," said Sarkisian.