Texas coach Steve Sarkisian opened his Monday news conference following the Longhorns’ 41-34 loss to Oklahoma State by apologizing for not singing “The Eyes of Texas,” the school song, before leaving the field.
“As you know, I owe an apology to Longhorn Nation,” Sarkisian said. “I made a mistake at the end of the game in not singing ‘The Eyes of Texas’ when the game was done. That was not anything intentional. That was not anything that had to do with our players. I think our players just followed me up the ramp into the locker room, obviously upset by the way the game ended.”
The song has been the subject of a controversy over the past few years as the school has reckoned with its origins in a minstrel show sung by performers in blackface. Former head coach Tom Herman was criticized for letting players choose whether they wanted to sing it or not.
At Sarkisian’s introductory news conference in January 2021, he made a strong statement that it will not be a question going forward.
“I know this much, ‘The Eyes of Texas’ is our school song,” he said. “We’re going to sing that song. We’re going to sing that proudly.”
But on Saturday, after the loss, only a few players remained on the field in Stillwater for the song.
Sarkisian said. “I apologize to everybody for that. That’ll never happen again. But again, it was not intentional. It was not premeditated by any means. That was just a mistake on my part. Nothing to do with the players. They had followed my lead on that. So that won’t happen again.”
Sarkisian addressed the Longhorns’ loss to the Cowboys, in which they had 14 penalties, their most since 2015, and lost a 14-point lead they had in the second quarter. It was Sarkisian’s fifth loss in which the Longhorns blew a double-digit lead since he was hired in 2021, the most in the FBS in that span. It was also the Longhorns’ fifth straight road loss, their second-longest road losing streak in the past 80 years.
Sarkisian said he still sees improvement and is not concerned about the trend.
“It’s easy to look at the record,” said Sarkisian, who is 10-10 with Texas. “We’ve come a long way as a program. I feel very good about where we’ve come. I love our style of play. I think we play hard, we play tough. Like a lot of programs, I think we’re a work in progress. You know, a couple balls bounce a certain way and our record is different. I wouldn’t change how I feel about our program and the direction that we’re going in.”
And he addressed Saturday’s struggles by quarterback Quinn Ewers, who went 19-of-49 for 319 yards, with two touchdowns to three interceptions. His 15 overthrows were the most in the FBS in the past three seasons.
“Would I have liked more precision in the passing game, does some of that responsibility fall on him? Yes,” Sarkisian said. “Some of that responsibility falls on me. Some of it falls on the receivers, some that falls on the O-line, the running backs, everybody has to assume their own responsibility in that. There’s definitely room for growth.”
Sarkisian said he never seriously considered benching Ewers for Hudson Card.
“I think Quinn is wired the right way,” Sarkisian said. “I think he’ll be the first one to tell you he would love to play better than he did.”
Texas has a bye week before traveling to Kansas State on Nov. 5.