Texas announced Saturday that it has parted ways with football coach Tom Herman after four seasons before announcing later in the day that it has hired Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian as his replacement.
Texas said in a statement that athletic director Chris Del Conte evaluated the program and recommended a change to university president Jay Hartzell. Herman went 32-18 at Texas and 7-3 this season, which culminated with a win over Colorado in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Tuesday.
“Decisions like this are very, very difficult and certainly not something I take lightly,” Del Conte said in a statement. “As I’ve said before, my philosophy is to wait until the end of the season to look at all of the factors in evaluating any of our programs.
“After much deliberation and a great deal of thought, as I looked back at the totality of where our football program is and in discussing its future, it became apparent that it was in the best interest of the University of Texas to move in a different direction.”
Hartzell and Kevin Eltife, the chair of the UT board of regents, agreed with Del Conte’s recommendation and approved the change, according to a statement from the university.
Sarkisian, who compiled a 47-35 record as a head coach at USC and Washington, won the 2020 Broyles Award as the nation’s top assistant. Alabama faces Ohio State in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game on Jan. 11.
Sarkisian, who is making $2.5 million per season on Nick Saban’s staff with the Crimson Tide, declined overtures from Auburn in its head-coaching search last month and turned down the Colorado head-coaching job last year.
He is the first assistant coach hired by Texas to lead its program since 1951, when the Longhorns promoted Ed Price to the role.
Texas and Alabama are scheduled to play a home-and-home series in 2022 and 2023.
Jesse Palmer reacts to Texas firing Tom Herman after four seasons, and Joey Galloway suggests Herman call up Nick Saban for a job on Alabama’s staff.
Herman, 45, led Texas to the Big 12 championship game and 10 wins in 2018, culminating in a victory in the Sugar Bowl, but the program couldn’t get back to that level the past two seasons. He overhauled his coaching staff after 2019, replacing both coordinators and several other assistants, but Texas started slowly and finished behind Oklahoma and Iowa State in the Big 12 race.
“I think the standard should be what I always have expressed it to be, which is to be in the conversation and competing for conference championships in the month of November and December,” Herman said Nov. 30 when asked about his job status. “We were there this year. We were there two years ago. We’ve done some really, really good things, and we’ve come up short in a four-overtime game. We’ve come up three points short and two points short in two other games.”
Herman went 4-0 in bowl games at Texas but never won the Big 12 and went 1-4 against rival Oklahoma. He also had seven losses as a ranked team to unranked teams — tied for the most in the FBS since 2017, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
Del Conte issued a statement last month that Herman “is our coach” after Texas had concluded its regular season.
“I’m grateful for all Coach Herman has done and the hard work and dedication he and his staff have put in on behalf of our program and student-athletes,” Del Conte said in Saturday’s statement. “I thank him for all of his efforts and his service to our institution, and I wish him the best in the future.”
Herman, who succeeded Charlie Strong in 2016, had been under contract through the 2024 season. Texas, which last won the Big 12 title in 2009 under Mack Brown, will soon be on its fourth head coach in a decade.
Texas will owe Herman about $15 million to buy out the final three years of his contract. The Longhorns will owe about another $10 million to buy out the remaining contracts for his assistants, which are guaranteed multiyear deals. In May 2019, the university’s regents approved a two-year extension for Herman that runs through the 2023 season. The final two years of the deal would have paid Herman $6.5 million in 2022 and $6.75 million in 2023.
ESPN’s Mark Schlabach and Dave Wilson contributed to this report.