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In the immediate wake of Nick Saban's retirement at Alabama, Steve Sarkisian was among the first names to crop up as a potential replacement. The Texas coach earned his job largely because of a two-year offensive coordinator stint with the Crimson Tide, working under Saban, from 2019-20. 

Sarkisian admitted he at least considered the possibility of succeeding his former boss, even if for a minute. 

"Naturally, I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about it," Sarkisian told ESPN. "But it took me all of about 60 seconds to say, 'Yeah, I'm not doing that.' I had an awesome two years at Alabama and loved my time under Coach Saban, but ultimately you want to reap what you sow.

"We've poured a ton into this program for three years, and we're on the cusp, I think, of going on a run that will be epic. I believe that. Our staff does, and our players do, too, just the support we have and the culture we've created here. Why leave something like that?" 

Sarkisian's coaching stock has never been higher. After a middling first two years in Austin, Sarkisian and his Longhorns finally broke through in 2023 with a Big 12 title -- the program's first since 2009 -- and their first appearance in the College Football Playoff.

With a move to the SEC right around the corner, Texas is gearing up for even more. The Longhorns return starting quarterback Quinn Ewers, who profiles as one of the top signal-callers in all of college football and is in the preseason Heisman Trophy conversation.

Texas also retains a lot of its defensive production, though defensive tackle is a need. Sarkisian has been hard at work plugging roster needs via the transfer portal, particularly at receiver. The team's added three wideouts -- including five-star and former Alabama standout Isaiah Bond -- and tight end Amari Niblack, also from Alabama. 

"We're going to be plenty talented, right? I'm not concerned about us being talented," Sarkisian said. "It's making sure that we're playing at our best when our best is needed in the critical moments of games, and you play your best when you trust the guy next to you or when you can be accountable to the guy next to you and not feel like you have to go out on your own and do something out of character. We've got to live every day that way."