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‘I am excited for BYU’: Why Texas coach Steve Sarkisian is lauding Cougars in Massive 12

Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian speaks with reporters in the course of the 2022 Massive 12 Soccer Media Days, Thursday, July 14, 2022 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Liz Parke, Massive 12 Convention)

Estimated studying time: 6-7 minutes

ARLINGTON, Texas — Steve Sarkisian’s teaching profession has taken him from coast-to-coast, from the NFL’s Oakland Raiders to the SEC’s Alabama Crimson Tide, with stops at USC, Washington and the Atlanta Falcons in between.

However the former BYU quarterback has by no means forgotten his roots, particularly these of hurling fourth-quarter bombs to beat Texas A&M and holding off Kansas State within the Cotton Bowl to cap one of many biggest seasons in Cougar soccer historical past in 1996.

So when the Cougars acquired the call-up to hitch the Massive 12 final September, the present Texas head coach was thrilled. He nonetheless retains in contact with BYU employees members, together with former teammate Kalani Sitake and offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick, a redshirt broad receiver on that powerhouse squad.

For Sarkisian and each different former BYU participant, the transfer to the Massive 12 caps a protracted journey for this system.

“I am excited for BYU,” he mentioned throughout Massive 12 media days Thursday on the dwelling of the Dallas Cowboys. “That program has been by way of just a little little bit of a clumsy change, from being within the Mountain West and the WAC to being impartial to now discovering a house right here within the Massive 12. So I am excited for BYU. I do know numerous the individuals on the college, and Kalani Sitake and I have been teammates at BYU.

“I do know they have a giant yr forward of them this yr, and I am positive they’re trying ahead to the longer term within the Massive 12.”

Lots has been product of the introduction of BYU, together with the American Athletic Convention trio of Cincinnati, Houston and UCF, to the Massive 12 starting July 1, 2023. A lot of it has been opinion or hypothesis, with a few of it backed up by information.

However what the Cougars and AAC threesome bringing to the Massive 12 is a crucial matter: stability, particularly after Texas and Oklahoma put together to go away for the SEC no later than 2025. And so they simply might need a bonus within the subsequent spherical of realignment, the one triggered by the Massive Ten pulling two west coast rivals to the midwest league that may quickly stretch from Los Angeles to New Jersey.

“Bob’s leaving our management ranks, and the choice Bob (Bowlsby, outgoing Massive 12 commissioner) made a yr in the past to maneuver is fairly highly effective proper now,” Iowa State coach Matt Campbell mentioned. “I feel the place we’re at the moment as a convention, we’re most likely in quite a bit higher form than we have been a yr in the past.

“Clearly, numerous credit score to Bob, his management and definitely the management of the Massive 12 Convention to make a very good transfer on the time. I feel it is positioned us in a fantastic spot shifting ahead.”

Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell speaks with reporters during the 2022 Big 12 Football Media Days, Thursday, July 14, 2022 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell speaks with reporters in the course of the 2022 Massive 12 Soccer Media Days, Thursday, July 14, 2022 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. (Picture: Liz Parke, Massive 12 Convention)

In an age of convention realignment the place the whole lot appears to be altering at a fast tempo — with the aforementioned Longhorns and Sooners shifting to the SEC, USC and UCLA sure for the Massive Ten, and a Pac-12 that has been decreased to 10 with out its marquee packages in Los Angeles — the convention based from the stays of the Southwest Convention in 1994, then generally known as the Massive 8, has discovered a uncommon stability in its most up-to-date kind.

Whereas nobody is arguing that the Massive 12, be it at 12 or 14 groups or extra, can be an even bigger draw and haul in a bigger tv verify than the soon-to-be Massive Ten and SEC, that are rapidly lapping the remainder of the sphere in faculty soccer.

However after a summer time the place the remaining eight groups in outgoing commissioner Bowlsby’s convention have been left to fend for themselves, with out a serving to hand from both the Pac-12 or ACC, stability is a welcome aid for the league that may quickly transition to Brett Yormark’s management he Aug. 1.

“BYU is among the few colleges that actually has a worldwide attain,” Bowlsby informed a bunch of reporters after Wednesday’s opening press convention.

“I feel we added the 4 greatest colleges we may have added,” he later added.

And to find that stability, the Massive 12 additionally introduced again just a little little bit of the outdated Southwest — howdy, Houston — and one of many greatest manufacturers from exterior the Energy 5 in BYU, to say nothing of final yr’s Faculty Soccer Playoff contender Cincinnati.

“I feel in some methods, we’re getting a few of that again, like with Houston coming again to the league that they have been within the Southwest Convention,” first-year TCU coach Sonny Dykes mentioned. “For those who ask our gamers what the Southwest Convention was, most of them will not know. However numerous our followers do. These issues are essential.”

Is it doable, then, that the brand new Massive 12 — the one devoid of Longhorns and Sooners, however with an array of Cougars, Bearcats and Knights — bought even higher?

Perhaps not by branding or nationwide identify worth. However with on-field outcomes?

Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell, right, stands on the sidelines during the first half of the American Athletic Conference championship NCAA college football game against Houston Saturday, Dec.  4, 2021, in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati head coach Luke Fickell, proper, stands on the sidelines in the course of the first half of the American Athletic Convention championship NCAA faculty soccer sport towards Houston Saturday, Dec. 4, 2021, in Cincinnati. (Picture: Jeff Dean, Related Press)

There is definitely an argument. Oklahoma completed the season ranked No. 10 nationally with an 11-2 file, whereas Texas was unranked after a 5-7 marketing campaign in Sarkisian’s first season.

On the identical time, Cincinnati went 13-1 and completed No. 4 nationally, No. 17 Houston was 12-2, and BYU received 10 video games for the second-straight season and completed nineteenth within the Related Press Prime 25. UCF, which lately employed former Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, completed with 9 wins or extra for the seventh time within the final 10 years — together with an ideal 13-0 season in 2017.

“This isn’t an indictment on any of the groups leaving,” Dykes mentioned. “However in case you return and look final yr, you may make the argument that these groups have been nearly as good because the groups leaving — or higher. The way in which you measure success in soccer is by who wins and who loses.

“On that measure alone, I feel the convention bought higher in soccer. Now could be that going to be the case constantly, and long-term? I do not know. However these are good soccer groups. Cincinnati confirmed all people what sort of group they’d after they rolled into South Bend and dealt with Notre Dame. On the finish of the day, that was a top-five soccer program.

“Houston was the identical manner by the tip of the yr. These are very, excellent soccer groups, and groups that actually care about taking part in soccer at a excessive degree.”

The Massive 12 will not be as near the SEC and Massive Ten in tv income, the on-field comparisons could also be nearer than lots of people assume.

On the very least, the center class ought to be wildly entertaining with a core group of faculties in one of the vital football-mad areas of the nation.

“I do know we’re within the Massive 12, however we’re within the state of Texas. And soccer is extraordinarily essential within the state of Texas, in any respect ranges,” Texas Tech coach Joey McGuire mentioned. “I am simply hungry to be part of it.”

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A proud graduate of Syracuse College, Sean Walker has coated BYU for KSL.com since 2015, whereas additionally mixing in prep sports activities, schooling, and the rest his editors assign him to do.

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