Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark presumably still isn’t going to have Thanksgiving dinner with the No. 7 Texas Longhorns prior to Friday’s regular-season finale against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, as head coach Steve Sarkisian guessed back in August.
Sarkisian’s cheeky comment came days after Yormark made surprisingly partisan comments about the post-Thanksgiving matchup during an appearance at a Red Raider kickoff club luncheon.
“Coach, I’m not going to put any pressure on you, but I’m gonna be in Austin for Thanksgiving, okay? And you’d better take care of business like you did right here in Lubbock last year,” Yormark told Texas Tech head coach Joey McGuire, playing to a cheering audience.
During Sarkisian’s Monday press conference, the topic resurfaced, with the Texas head coach saying there wasn’t anything to smooth over when he saw Yormark in Ames on Saturday as the Longhorns took down the Cyclones, 26-16. Instead, Sarkisian turned the focus back to his players, who don’t make the decisions about conference alignment.
“For me, we’ve been on this kick here for months now. This whole situation with us leaving the Big 12, our players didn’t choose to leave the Big 12. They chose to play for the University of Texas. What conference we’re in, they’re just choosing to put on the burnt orange and white and run out of the tunnel,” said Sarkisian.
“Whether the commissioner’s rooting against our players to win or not or we’re in the SEC or we’re in the Big 12, at the end of the day our guys just want to play good football and they want to win.”
Sarkisian preaches consistency with his team as a way to build trust and the message to his team has remained the same throughout the “Embrace the Hate” tour in road games against soon-to-be-former conference opponents and in the quest to win a conference title for the first time since 2009 and make the College Football Playoffs for the first time ever.
“We’ve tried to consume ourselves with what we need to do. As you guys have heard me say, we need to be enamored with us, and that’s something that we’ve done. That’s been our focus and I think that’s why our players have been so poised and so composed, even as we go on the road and the success we’ve had there since we haven’t gotten caught up in what’s going on outside. We’ve really tried to quiet the noise. We’ve really tried to stay focused on one another and how we can continue to support one another,” said Sarkisian.
With the Big 12 logo still behind Sarkisian and still on the Texas uniforms and still on Campbell-Williams field, Sarkisian struck a defiant tone in closing his comments on the situation.
“He’ll be here Friday and hopefully we put on a heck of a show for him — that’s what I want. He’s the commissioner of our conference and I’m hopeful that when he watches us play, he’s proud of the way that we play and represent the Big 12 because that’s the conference we’re in right now.”