What Steve Sarkisian-Texas hire means for ‘Bama-Auburn football rivalry

Auburn football at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday September 7, 2019.
Auburn football at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday September 7, 2019. /

Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian was hired away from the Tide by the Texas Longhorns. What does his departure mean for the ‘Bama-Auburn football rivalry?

Ahead of the National Championship, every Auburn football fan should be thrilled that the Alabama locker-room now has an added distraction in the form of Steve Sarkisian’s departure to the Texas Longhorns as their new head coach.

Sarkisian takes over for Tom Herman, who was surprisingly fired after a 7-3 season and a 32-point victory over Colorado in the Alamo Bowl. It was not a cheap decision to fire Herman and his staff, and that doesn’t even include the cost of replacing them with Sark and his new choices:

"At the University of Texas, the school and athletic department began a gamble on Saturday that’s one of the biggest in recent years. They are potentially paying more than $24 million in buyout money to fire coach Tom Herman and his staff. That doesn’t count a dime for the incoming staff, just the potential payout for coaches not to coach.…the timing of Herman’s firing may have been a surprise, but the result wasn’t. Ever since athletic director Chris Del Conte launched his failed courtship of Urban Meyer a few weeks back, this result was just a matter of when the call came from human resources. The timing was the only question, and Texas decided to avoid the Dead Man Walking season that Mack Brown endured in 2013."

Perhaps Herman avoided the hot seat that next season could have presented, but the timing of this hire is truly unfortunate for the Tide, with the National Championship game against the Ohio State University Buckeyes eight days away. It could have been worse, though, if Auburn had stolen away Sarkisian before they were able to bring aboard new head coach Bryan Harsin.

Sarkisian leaving the SEC makes it an easier pill to swallow for Alabama fans than if he had crossed enemy lines into Lee County. It would have been the inverse of the ol’ “if you can’t beat them, join them” adage.

Auburn football fans need to be honest with themselves for a second here, though; the Tide will likely find the best possible replacement available and the ‘Bama football engine will continue to chug along.

When Sarkisian left Alabama in 2017 to join the Atlanta Falcons coaching staff, the Tide responded with a National Championship in 2018. The odds of them doing the same thing this season (and next season too given their recent recruiting class) are depressingly high.

This hire won’t have any effect on the Roll Tide-War Eagle rivalry until the man that replaces Kevin Steele puts a defense on the field to match Sarkisian’s replacement’s offense. Then again, no Auburn football fan would turn down seeing the B1G 10 continue to put down Alabama teams during the 2021 bowl season.

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