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Texas Football Fires Herman, Hires Sarkisian, Will Pay Nearly $25M To Ex-Coach And Assistants

UT head football coach Tom Herman speaks at a news conference on Oct. 12, 2020.
Texas Longhorns Youtube screenshot
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UT head football coach Tom Herman speaks at a news conference on Oct. 12, 2020.

The University of Texas announced Saturday morning it has fired its football coach, Tom Herman, and his staff. The move comes just three days removed from a convincing 55-23 win over Colorado in the Alamo Bowl, Herman’s fourth bowl win in a row at Texas.

“With our football season coming to a close, our vice president and athletics director, Chris Del Conte, has evaluated the UT program’s strengths and weaknesses and where the program is relative to our goals," the university said in a statement. "While we have made measured progress during the past several years under Tom Herman’s leadership, Chris has recommended to the university president, Jay Hartzell, that UT make a coaching change to get us on track to achieving our ambitious goals."

Del Conte released a statement of his own on Twitter, thanking Herman for his "hard work and dedication."

Steve Sarkisian will be the next head coach. Sarkisian comes to Texas from Alabama where he was offensive coordinator for a team headed to the national title game on Jan. 11. He began his coaching career after playing quarterback in the Canadian Football League.

Sarkisian was an assistant for USC during the 2005 season when Vince Young, Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns beat the Trojans at the Rose Bowl.

“On Jan. 4, 2006, I was the USC quarterback coach when we played Texas in that famed national championship game,” Sarkisian said in a statement. “There has always been something special about Longhorn football, its history, and traditions – not just on that day – and I could never have imagined that 15 years later, I would join the Longhorns as their head coach. This is a unique and compelling opportunity to lead this storied program to the next level, competing once again amongst the best in college football.”

Sarkisian was a head coach in the Pac-12 at Washington for five years and USC for nearly two. He was let go from USC in the middle of the 2015 season and has since worked as a coordinator at Alabama and with the Atlanta Falcons of the NFL.

In an interesting twist, Sarkisian has fewer head-coaching wins (46) and a lower winning percentage (57%) than Herman (52 and 71%, respectively).

In addition to Sarkisian and the new coaching staff, the University of Texas is now on the hook to pay Herman more than $15 million for the three years remaining on his contract. The school must also pay roughly $10 million for his assistant coaches. That $25 million cost could be reduced if they were to take new coaching jobs.

This is the same year that UT-Austin officials were asked to make $28 million in cuts because of funding concerns due to the pandemic.

UT canceled merit raises for faculty and staff, and recommended furloughs or layoffs in departments that draw most of their revenue from elsewhere, departments like UT Athletics. The athletics department cut staff and temporarily cut salaries over the summer. (KUT is also among the group of UT-Austin units the does not use university funds as its primary source of revenue.)

Got a tip? Email Jimmy Maas at jmaas@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @maasdinero.

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