Longhorns Head coach Steve Sarkisian answer questions from the local news media during the first press conferences for the 2023 football season on August 1, 2023.

Report: Texas set to double football coach Steve Sarkisian’s salary

Texas is set to nearly double the annual salary of football coach Steve Sarkisian, according to documents posted on social media Saturday by Inside Texas.

The proposed four-year contract extension — announced by Texas officials on Jan. 13 with no financial details revealed — will go in front of the University of Texas System board of regents for consideration at their Feb 21-22 meeting, according to a published agenda book for that meeting.

Sarkisian, 49, is currently halfway through a six-year contract that’s scheduled to pay him $5.8 million in 2024, $6 million in 2025 and $6.2 million in 2026. If approved, the new contract would pay him $10.3 million in 2024 and then receive an annual increase of $100,000, capped at $10.9 million in 2030.

Sarkisian also can earn up to $1.85 million in annual performance bonuses, based on how successful the team is in the playoffs and which awards he has earned. If he receives the maximum bonus allowed, it would mean the Longhorns won the CFP national championship and Sarkisian earned the conference coach of the year (coaches vote) and at least one national coach of the year award.

Chances are good for these accomplishments given recent performances by Sarkisian and the Longhorns, who just had their most successful season in a decade. They posted a 12-2 record on the way to a Big 12 championship and an appearance in the CFP, albeit a 37-31 loss to the Washington Huskies in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1.

The Longhorns finished at No. 3 in the AP Poll, the highest final ranking for Texas in 15 years.

Sarkisian earned Big 12 coach of the year recognition and was a finalist for the Eddie Robinson, Bear Bryant and George Munger Coach of the Year awards.

“I said it when I came here three years ago, this is a dream job for me,” Sarkisian said in a statement last month. “It’s a destination job, and I’m fired up every day to be the head coach at The University of Texas. We’re thrilled with what we’ve been able to accomplish and proud of the culture we’ve built and the way our players have grown — on and off the field. But we’re just getting started. I’ve said it all along, we’ve been building this program for long term success.”

Sarkisian has a 25-14 record in his three seasons in Austin.

–Field Level Media

Texas Longhorns quarterback Quinn Ewers (3) evades a tackle by Washington edge Bralen Trice (8) during the Sugar Bowl College Football Playoff  semifinals game at the Caesars Superdome on Monday, Jan. 1, 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Texas QB Quinn Ewers returning in 2024

Quarterback Quinn Ewers plans to return to Texas rather than entering the 2024 NFL Draft.

“Ever since I was a kid, I’ve dreamed of playing quarterback at the University of Texas. … I’m coming back,” Ewers said in a social media post Thursday. “Hook ’em.”

The 20-year-old gives Texas a unique stable of golden-armed options at quarterback. He’s 16-6 as a starter and the Longhorns have Arch Manning as a backup. Manning was the No. 1-ranked QB in the Class of 2023.

Texas ended the season in the College Football Playoff for the first time, losing in the semifinals to Washington, 37-31.

Ewers was second in the Big 12 with 3,479 yards and threw 22 touchdown passes last season, despite missing time with a shoulder injury for the second consecutive season. Texas is moving to the SEC next season.

Ewers was graded as a first-round pick in the ’24 class, which includes a crowd of headliners at the position. USC’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, LSU’s Jayden Daniels and Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy all are expected to declare for the draft before the Jan. 15 deadline.

–Field Level Media

Nov 24, 2023; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns running back Keilan Robinson (7) runs for a touchdown while defended by Texas Tech Red Raiders defensive back Bralyn Lux (12) during the first half at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 Texas romps past Texas Tech into Big 12 title game

Jaydon Blue ran for 121 yards and a touchdown and Keilan Robinson scored on 10-yard run and a 95-yard kickoff return as No. 7 Texas produced a statement with a 57-7 victory over Texas Tech on Friday in Austin, Texas, in the teams’ final Big 12 Conference regular-season game.

The Longhorns (11-1, 8-1 Big 12) won their sixth straight contest and cliched a spot in the Big 12 Conference championship game against either No. 13 Oklahoma or No. 20 Oklahoma State.

Texas quarterback Quinn Ewers passed for 196 yards and a touchdown with one interception. Jett Bush returned a deflected interception 43 yards for another score, and Burt Auburn kicked five field goals for the Longhorns in the win that featured the much anticipated debut of freshman quarterback Arch Manning late in the third quarter.

The Longhorns’ defense did the rest, holding Texas Tech (6-6, 5-4) to just 198 total yards. Behren Morton passed for 88 yards and Tahj Brooks had 95 yards on 19 carries for the Red Raiders.

Texas scored on its first possession, marching 56 yards in seven plays to a 10-yard TD run by Robinson. The Longhorns added to their lead on Auburn’s 34-yard field goal with 2:15 to play in the first quarter.

Texas Tech found the end zone on Morton’s 2-yard keeper around left end with 29 seconds to play in the first quarter. Blue ripped off a 69-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter to push the Texas’ lead to 17-7.

Auburn added his second field goal, this one from 37 yards away with 10:07 to play in the second quarter, after Michael Taaffe blocked a punt. Auburn was good again on a 26-yarder with 2:55 to play in the second quarter and added a 44-yard field goal on the final snap of the half to build Texas’ lead to 26-7 at the break.

Robinson opened the third quarter with his kickoff return touchdown that blew open the game. Auburn booted a career-long 54-yard field goal with 9:15 to play in the third quarter to make it 36-7.

An Ewers-to-Xavier Worthy 19-yard TD pass with 4:44 to play in the third quarter pushed the Texas advantage to 43-7. Bush then snatched a pass out of the air that hit Brooks in the foot and rumbled for a score. Quintrevion Wisner added a 10-yard TD run with 38 seconds left to cap the scoring.

–Field Level Media

Oct 28, 2023; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback Maalik Murphy (6) hands off to running back CJ Baxter (4) during the second half against the Brigham Young Cougars at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports

No. 7 Texas turns to Maalik Murphy again vs. No. 23 Kansas St.

No. 7 Texas will again rely on a backup quarterback when it hosts No. 23 Kansas State on Saturday afternoon in a key Big 12 Conference battle in Austin, Texas.

The Longhorns (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) were the top-ranked Big 12 team in the season’s initial College Football Playoff rankings released on Tuesday, but they share first place in the league with four other teams, including Kansas State.

Texas, which is off to its best start since 2009, has won two consecutive games and plays at home for the second straight week.

“I’d argue we have the best win in the country right now,” Longhorns coach Steve Sarkisian said Monday about his team’s Week 2 victory at Alabama. “I feel pretty good about our team and I think over time this whole thing will play itself out.

“We’ve got to focus on what we need to do Saturday and play our best football.”

The Longhorns dominated BYU 35-6 last Saturday, as redshirt freshman quarterback Maalik Murphy made his first career start in place of the injured Quinn Ewers and passed for 170 yards and two touchdowns to Adonai Mitchell. However, Murphy was also intercepted once and lost a fumble.

Murphy will be under center once again versus the Wildcats.

Jonathon Brooks racked up 138 total yards of offense (98 on the ground) and a rushing TD, and Xavier Worthy returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown as Texas rolled to the win, which came even with the Longhorns failing to score on three chances inside the BYU 30-yard line.

Brooks ranks fifth in the FBS in rushing yards with 923 and is sixth in all-purpose yards (1,135), while Worthy leads the team in catches and receiving yards (44, 572). Mitchell leads the team in TD catches with seven.

The Longhorns have won the past six meetings with Kansas State, dating back to 2017. It is the longest winning streak in the all-time series for either program.

The Wildcats (6-2, 4-1) head to Austin on the heels of their own dominating performance, a 41-0 thrashing of Houston last weekend. Will Howard hit on 15 of his 17 passes for 164 yards and two touchdowns in the win, with DJ Giddens leading Kansas State with 96 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. The Wildcats allowed just 95 passing yards.

Kansas State, the defending Big 12 champion, is riding a three-game winning streak and has not allowed a touchdown over the past nine quarters, outscoring its opponents 103-3 since Texas Tech scored a TD midway through the third quarter on Oct. 14.

“We’ve got big challenge ahead in all three phases this week,” Wildcats coach Chris Klieman said Tuesday. “The guys are confident and excited coming off another big win on Saturday. Great crowd. Great homecoming win. I think we’re getting better in all three phases.

“There’s some things that we need to work on for sure in all three phases, but when you shut a team out and haven’t allowed a touchdown for a handful of quarters, you’re doing some really good things on defense.”

Kansas State is one of six Power Five teams to rank in the top 15 nationally in both scoring offense and scoring defense. The Wildcats enter Saturday ranked 13th in scoring (37.4 points per game) and 14th in points allowed (15.9 per game).

–Field Level Media

Jul 12, 2023; Arlington, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian is interviewed during Big 12 football media day at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Steve Sarkisian: Texas’ final season in Big 12 ‘won’t be awkward’

For one season, the Big 12 will carry 14 members — four incoming and two outgoing.

If you think that the commingling of Texas and Oklahoma with BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF would make for an uncomfortable yearlong dinner party, Texas coach Steve Sarkisian disagrees.

“It won’t be awkward for us,” Sarkisian said Wednesday at Big 12 Media Days. “I can’t speak for anybody else. It won’t be awkward for us.

“We’ve got a roster full of players who quite frankly came to the University of Texas to try to win a Big 12 Championship, and we’ve got one more opportunity to do that, and I think our guys are focused on that. And so it won’t be awkward from our end, but like I said, I can’t speak for everybody else.”

Texas and Oklahoma will depart for the SEC in 2024, but in the meantime the Longhorns were picked to win the Big 12 in the preseason media poll, edging defending champion Kansas State.

The Longhorns have gone 13 years and counting since last winning a conference title, the 2009 Big 12 banner. The storied program has only been to one of the past six Big 12 championship games since the game was re-instituted in 2017.

So Sarkisian was effusive in praising his players for being motivated by the here and now, not the SEC move.

“I know there’s been so much talk about the SEC and what’s happening in 2024, but I think one thing that I love about this team that we have this year is their focus on 2023 and this opportunity we have here in the Big 12,” Sarkisian said. “It’s going to be a heck of a season, great competition.”

While Sarkisian aimed to keep things positive in his remarks to the media, Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy appeared bothered by Texas being voted atop the poll, wondering if the voting had been based on “the last 50 years” instead of the present day.

“I think it’s pretty clear and easy to say, hey, we’re going to get everybody’s best shot every Saturday,” Sarkisian said.

The Longhorns lost high-powered running back tandem Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson to the NFL, but the offense is expected to be strong behind Quinn Ewers at quarterback, Georgia transfer Adonai Mitchell at wide receiver and others.

“I know a lot is made of the players that we’ve brought in, but we’ve got a lot of veteran players that came to the University of Texas to win a championship,” Sarkisian said. “They bought into a new coach, a new coaching staff, a new style of play, a new culture and inevitably they’re leaders on our team now, and they get a chance going into some of them their final season to compete for a Big 12 Championship.”

Texas’ Big 12 slate will begin Sept. 23 with a trip to Baylor. The Longhorns will conclude the regular season and say goodbye to the Big 12 by playing another in-state rival, Texas Tech, on Nov. 24 in Austin.

“I hope (the Texas Tech game) carries extra weight because hopefully we’re competing to get into the championship game,” Sarkisian said. “But the reality of it is, hey, we’ve had some longstanding games with a lot of teams in the Big 12, and we’re going to embrace every opportunity we get this year.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Dallas, Texas, USA;  Texas Longhorns defensive end Justice Finkley (1) and Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Keondre Coburn (99) sack Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Davis Beville (11) during the second half at the Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Texas, Oklahoma reach deal to leave Big 12 in 2024

Texas and Oklahoma agreed to a $100 million fee to exit the Big 12 Conference a year earlier than their contractual obligation, meaning they will join the Southeastern Conference for the 2024-25 school year.

The Big 12 announced Thursday that the schools and the reached an agreement in principle regarding the exit fee.

“As I have consistently stated, the Conference would only agree to an early withdrawal if it was in our best interest for Oklahoma and Texas to depart prior to June 30, 2025,” Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark said in a statement. “By reaching this agreement, we are now able to accelerate our new beginning as a 12-team league and move forward in earnest with our initiatives and future planning.

“I appreciate the approaches of OU President Joe Harroz and UT President Jay Hartzell to ensure an amicable conclusion to this process, and look forward to the bright days ahead for the Big 12 Conference.”

Hartzell said in a statement, in part, “We have always been committed to fulfilling our contractual obligations to the Big 12. The collegiate athletics landscape has continued to evolve rapidly, and working together to accelerate our exit produced benefits for all parties. The Big 12 has been a respected partner for nearly three decades, and we look forward to a final season of spirited competition with our friends and rivals.”

“The exciting matchups and passionate rivalries of the past quarter century will always be a celebrated part of our shared history,” Harroz added in a statement, in part. “We look forward to showcasing that intensity this season, next season and beyond.”

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey wrote in a statement that the conference will “proceed with facilitating the transition of Oklahoma and Texas to become full members of the Southeastern Conference on July 1, 2024.”

He added, “We look forward to welcoming the conference’s new members and moving into the future as a 16-team league.”

BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston are set to join the Big 12 for the 2023-24 school year, giving the conference 14 teams for one season before the Longhorns and Sooners exit.

–Field Level Media

Jul 14, 2022; Arlington, TX, USA; A view of the Texas Longhorns helmet logo during the Big 12 Media Day at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Five-star LB, former A&M pledge Anthony Hill commits to Texas

Anthony Hill, a five-star linebacker prospect who decommitted from Texas A&M last month, announced Thursday he instead will play his college football at Texas.

Hill, from Ryan High School in Denton, Texas, is ranked as the No. 1 linebacker and the No. 19 overall prospect in the Class of 2023 by the 247Sports composite.

Hill committed to Texas A&M in July before reopening his recruitment in November. The Aggies lost six straight games and finished 5-7, and a few highly-rated recruits decommitted from the program.

Southern California was among the other schools in the mix for Hill’s services. He’d also visited the likes of Alabama and Oklahoma.

Texas landed its second five-star commitment of the class, joining quarterback Arch Manning, the nephew of Peyton and Eli Manning.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2022; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Texas Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson (5) runs for a touchdown during the first half against the Kansas Jayhawks at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

No. 23 Texas eyes Big 12 title game, first must overcome Baylor

No. 23 Texas will look to keep its chances of playing for the Big 12 Conference championship alive when it hosts Baylor on Friday in Austin in the teams’ final-regular season game.

The Longhorns (7-4, 5-3 Big 12) must beat Baylor and have Kansas beat No. 12 Kansas State on Saturday night to earn a berth opposite undefeated TCU in the league championship game. The Bears (6-5, 4-4) already are bowl-eligible and will aim to derail their longtime rival’s title hopes.

“We all understand the ramifications of where it’s at in the Big 12,” Texas coach Steve Sarkisian said Monday. “We don’t shy away from those things. We’ve got to do our part and see what happens after that.”

The Longhorns re-entered the College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday after a dominating 55-14 road victory over Kansas on Saturday, their second win in their past three games.

Bijan Robinson rushed for a career-high 243 yards and four touchdowns in just three quarters as the Longhorns finished with 539 total yards — 427 on the ground. Texas also got 108 yards on 11 carries from Jonathon Brooks in an effort that included two TDs in the fourth quarter, one of which covered 70 yards.

The victory over Kansas ensured that Texas will have a winning season, and at No. 24, the Longhorns also moved back into the AP Top 25 as the only four-loss team that’s ranked. Texas’ four losses are by a combined 18 points.

“You can always look back and play the ‘what-if’ game,” Sarkisian said. “‘What if’ this play and ‘what if’ that play in a couple of other ballgames, but in the end, the resiliency our guys have shown, I’m very proud of that.”

Baylor came within a hold-your-breath, last-play field goal of ruining TCU’s undefeated season in a 29-28 loss in Waco on Saturday. The Bears will head into the regular-season finale looking to secure their 11th seven-win season in the past 13 years.

The Bears churned out 501 yards of total offense — their fourth game of the season with 500-plus yards — kept the ball for nearly 34 minutes and effectively shut down explosive TCU until the last seven minutes. Baylor’s Blake Shapen passed for 269 yards and a touchdown while Monaray Baldwin made six catches for 123 yards.

“I think always the emphasis is where I’m at right now, this is who I could become,” Baylor coach Dave Aranda said. “And then further, just collectively, this is where we’re at right now, this is what we could become. You look at that game this past Saturday, and the effort, the speed and just all of it, that’s us right there. We just have to be able to execute better.”

The Longhorns lead the overall series 79-28-4, including a 48-10-2 all-time mark in games played in Austin. Baylor captured last year’s contest in Waco 31-24 but has not won in Austin since 2014, a three-game losing streak.

–Field Level Media

Oct 29, 2022; Manhattan, Kansas, USA; Kansas State Wildcats quarterback Will Howard (18) drops back to pass during the first quarter against the Oklahoma State Cowboys at Bill Snyder Family Football Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Sewell-USA TODAY Sports

No. 13 K-State flying high ahead of big game vs. No. 24 Texas

Kansas State is coming off a historic victory. Now it’s time to prove that it was not a fluke.

The Wildcats, ranked No. 13 in the first College Football Playoff poll, defeated then-No. 9 Oklahoma State 48-0 last Saturday, the largest shutout ever over a top-10 team by a team lower in the rankings. It was the Wildcats’ first victory over the Cowboys in Chris Klieman’s four years as head coach.

They’ll face another squad Klieman hasn’t defeated when No. 24 Texas comes to Manhattan, Kan. on Saturday for a primetime showdown.

K-State (6-2, 4-1 Big 12) played exceptionally well against the Cowboys, and two Wildcats earned Big 12 player of the week honors. Quarterback Will Howard, who played for injured starter Adrian Martinez, earned offensive player of the week after going 21-of-37 for 296 passing yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.

Punter Ty Zentner was selected special teams player of the week after serving as punter, place kicker and kickoff specialist. He hit both field goals and all six extra points, plus placed two of his four punts inside the 20 without a touchback.

The defense shut out the Cowboys, who came into the game averaging 44.7 points per game, tied for third in the FBS. The last time the Cowboys were shut out was Nov. 28, 2009, when they were blanked by Oklahoma, 27-0. The Cowboys also were held to 217 yards of total offense, less than half their season average (466.9 yards per game).

Klieman knows it will take an equally stout effort to defeat the Longhorns.

“I know they’re extremely well coached and they have great talent,” Klieman said at his Tuesday press conference. “They’ll have some things we haven’t seen. We know they’ll attack us where other teams have hurt us.”

Klieman said he didn’t know whether Martinez or Howard will start Saturday, and he probably won’t say when he does figure it out.

“Adrian is closer (to playing),” the coach said, adding that Howard is playing well enough to consider starting him regardless of Martinez’s health.

Texas (5-3, 3-2 Big 12) was off last weekend after being defeated by the same Oklahoma State team that K-State pummeled. With a win over K-State, the Longhorns will have a good chance to compete for a spot in the Big 12 championship game Dec. 3. A loss will make it nearly impossible. The Longhorns lost to Oklahoma State and play conference-leading TCU, ranked seventh in the CFP, next week in Austin.

Texas is 3-7 all-time in Manhattan, including wins in each of the last two meetings. The Longhorns won the last game in Manhattan, 69-31, but that was against a COVID-depleted team in 2020.

No one expects that kind of result Saturday.

“They’re talented in all three phases,” head coach Steve Sarkisian said of the Wildcats. “They take care of the ball on offense and create a bunch of turnovers on defense. They limit their penalties. This is a great task, going on the road into a really cool environment, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Freshman quarterback Quinn Ewers will hope for improvement after he completed just 19 of 49 passes against the Cowboys for 319 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions. Bijan Robinson leads the Longhorns on the ground with 920 yards and 11 touchdowns; he’s broken the 100-yard mark in six straight games and gained at least 130 rushing yards in three straight.

–Field Level Media

Oct 1, 2022; Austin, Texas, USA; Texas Longhorns tight end Ja'Tavion Sanders (0) catches a pass for a touchdown against the West Virginia Mountaineers during the second quarter at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Texas uses big first half to bury West Virginia

Hudson Card passed for 303 yards and three touchdowns as host Texas ran away in the first half and beat visiting West Virginia 38-20 on Saturday in Big 12 Conference action in Austin, Texas.

Longhorns wideout Xavier Worthy caught seven passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns and passed for another.

Texas (3-2, 1-1 Big 12) dominated the game’s first 26 minutes on the way to a 28-7 lead at the half as the Mountaineers (2-3, 0-2) were ragged on offense and porous on defense.

Card ended up 21-of-27 passing. Bijan Robinson ran for 101 yards and a TD for the Longhorns.

JT Daniels was 29-of-48 passing for 253 yards and a score in the loss, which snapped West Virginia’s two-game win streak.

Mountaineers running back CJ Donaldson Jr. was carted off the field with an apparent head and back injury midway through the third quarter and transported to a nearby hospital.

The Longhorns struck first on a 15-yard TD pass from Card to Worthy at the 6:08 mark of the opening quarter. Worthy then hit a wide-open Ja’Tavion Sanders on a 33-yard scoring pass after a backward pass from Card in the waning seconds of the quarter to go up 14-0.

Robinson scored untouched from the 1-yard line six seconds into the second quarter to boost Texas’ lead to 21-0. Sanders then hauled in his second touchdown catch of the game, this one from Card and covering 13 yards, with 4:22 to play in the half.

West Virginia cut its deficit to 28-7 on an 8-yard TD pass from Daniels to Kaden Prather with 13 seconds to play before halftime. The Mountaineers gained 83 of its 163 yards of the half on the scoring drive.

Texas immediately grabbed back the momentum on its opening possession of the third quarter. It culminated in Card’s 44-yard TD pass to Worthy that the receiver hauled in after it bounced out of the hands of the Mountaineers’ Aubrey Burks.

Tony Mathis capped an 18-play, 65-yard march with a 1-yard touchdown run on the first play of the fourth quarter to bring the Mountaineers to within 35-14. Texas responded with a 48-yard field goal from Bert Auburn with 10:22 to play.

West Virginia capped the scoring with a 4-yard TD run by Justin Johnson Jr. with 4:31 to play.

–Field Level Media