Steve Sarkisian Credits Future Rival With Saving His Career

Steve Sarkisian walks into the stadium before Texas's bowl game.

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Texas football coach Steve Sarkisian had some high praise for a future rival while appearing on the Pivot podcast Tuesday. The Longhorns leader credits Nick Saban with saving his career.

He dove into the bleak outlook on his future in college football following his dismissal from USC, saying that Saban was the only person willing to offer him a second chance.

Let’s back up a bit to 2015.

Sarkisian had been one of the hottest names on the coaching market before settling in sunny Los Angeles, where he looked to lead one of college football’s most prestigious programs back to prominence. Following a nine-win campaign in Year 1, Sarkisian had USC ranked in the top 10 of the preseason polls.

The Trojans struggled a bit out of the gate, going 3-2 over their first five games. Then, the team learned that its head coach would not be finishing out the year.

A string of incidents led to the firing, the first of which came in the offseason. Steve Sarkisian showed up seemingly intoxicated to a booster event. The erratic behavior continued into the season as he was seen as “not being himself” on multiple occasions at USC facilities.

After being let go, Sarkisian checked into a treatment center.

Upon getting out and attempting to continue his career in coaching, he found that opportunities were few and far between. Nick Saban was one of the only people to offer him a role, which would come in an analyst position with the Crimson Tide.

While on the Pivot podcast, he talked about the risk that Saban took, and how it turned his outlook around.

“In 2016, I was ready to go do TV,” Sarkisian began. “I couldn’t get an interview for a job. Nick Saban saved my career. He offered me an analyst job.”

Not only was Saban gracious enough to extend the offer, though, but he also exceeded Steve Sarkisian’s expectations.

“I was willing to do it for free, but he said, ‘I’ve got to pay you $30K so you can get benefits.'”

Sarkisian spent one season with Alabama before returning in an offensive coordinator role in 2019. He obviously made the most of his second chance as he now leads one of college football’s biggest brands.

The head coach closed his interview with a message and a new perspective on life.

“I’m forever indebted to [coach Saban]… Somebody in life has got to give us all a second chance. It totally changed my perspective on how I coach, and how I deal with players. Everybody’s going through stuff… Whatever that stuff is, you’ve just got to get through it. If I can be that guy that can extend that olive branch… I always think back to that time.”

Strong words coming from a future rival. Texas is set to join the SEC in 2024. The Longhorns nearly knocked off the Tide last year in Austin.