The University of Texas Longhorns football program entered a new era on Tuesday, but it seems that some things are going to stay the same.
Steve Sarkisian, the former Alabama Crimson Tide Offensive Coordinator, was announced as the new lead man for the Longhorns. In his introductory press conference, Sarkisian was asked how closely he followed the “Eyes of Texas” debate over the past few months and if he was open to having a dialogue with the players.
He responded with:
“I know this much, the ‘Eyes of Texas’ is our school song. We support that song, we’re going to sing that song and we’re going to sing it proudly. I think when I come in to the fold any talks that need to be had whether it’s about the ‘Eyes of Texas’ or any other issues that come up (I think) it’s having the discussions. We can’t put our head in the sand and act like things aren’t happening we have to really have those discussions with them and educate our players so that we’re all on the same page and understand that. I think sometimes there are tough discussions that need to happen. Without speaking too candidly we’re living in a country right now where this is some turmoil going on, but as long as we can have those discussions and be on the same page we can do that. As it pertains to the ‘Eyes of Texas’ man that’s our song and we’re fired up to sing it.”
This past season, several Longhorn players expressed displeasure with the ‘Eyes of Texas’, the school’s official song, because of the racial undertones in the song’s history. According to UT Professor Dr. Edmond Gordan the song, a satirical take on Robert E. Lee’s ‘the eyes of the south are upon you’, was performed in black face by white performers during minstrel shows.
During the summer and into the fall football season, several students and athletes voiced their displeasure with the song and other confederate landmarks on the campus of UT after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.
Sarkisian’s response and support of the song will surely bring on more controversy to a Texas program that has not won a Big 12 title since 2009.
The press conference in it’s entirety is below, fast forward to the 35:25 mark to hear Sarkisian’s complete comments on the ‘Eyes of Texas’.