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Texas HC Steve Sarkisian’s adaptability could be vital to his success

College football isn’t what it used to be. In many ways, that’s a good thing. Even so, not all college coaches have been able to adapt to new norms in college football.

Name, image and likeness (NIL) has played a big role in establishing new norms for college football teams. Rightfully so, the players that bring sizable revenue to universities are no longer working for free.

One coach was no longer able to continue to adapt to the new landscape. Legendary Alabama head coach Nick Saban detailed the changes that led to his retirement in an article by ESPN’s Chris Low.

“Maybe 70 or 80 percent of the players you talk to, all they want to know is two things: What assurances do I have that I’m going to play because they’re thinking about transferring, and how much are you going to pay me?

So I’m saying to myself, ‘Maybe this doesn’t work anymore, that the goals and aspirations are just different and that it’s all about how much money can I make as a college player?'”

Saban made a career off his ability to adapt, but as early as 2022 he noted that he would not be able to continue to roll with whatever changes would come down the line.

NIL and the transfer portal, which in and of themselves are great without the other, are a nightmare to navigate in their combined form. Saban noted the frustration of players looking to leverage their current value into a bigger NIL deal. Nevertheless, that’s the set of circumstances every other college football team is dealing with right now. The best at managing the situation are those who will see the most success.

Enter Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian who in three years has resurrected the Longhorns from a decade of average to a 12-win team, conference champion and College Football Playoff participant. Many doubted he would ever win 10 games. He did so with style points, dominating the Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa.

Unlike Saban, Sarkisian is adjusting to college football’s new rules. He’s thriving, handpicking players from the transfer portal and utilizing Texas’ brand power to win in recruiting. More than that, many of his players aren’t looking to level up to a better program. They don’t have to.

Key Texas players aren’t transferring. At least, the ones who are getting significant playing time and producing aren’t leaving for another college team. Sarkisian is retaining his best players. It wouldn’t make sense to leave.

Texas’ head coach is adapting to college football. And while his leadership, culture change, scheme and development are all valuable, his ability to succeed no matter what changes come to college football are why Texas is set up to win in the SEC.

Story originally appeared on Longhorns Wire