Texas coach Steve Sarkisian isn’t taking Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark’s comments too seriously.
They did, however, catch him by surprise.
Yormark was speaking at Texas Tech’s Red Raider Club luncheon earlier this month and told fans in Lubbock that he was going to be at their game against Texas on Nov. 24 — which is Texas’ final Big 12 game before it leaves for the SEC. Yormark then issued a very clear challenge to Texas Tech coach Joey McGuire.
“Coach, I’m not going to put any pressure on you, but I’m going to be in Austin for Thanksgiving, OK? And you better take care of business like you did right here in Lubbock last year,” Yormark said.
Yormark was clearly playing to the Lubbock crowd when he referenced Texas Tech's 37-34 overtime win against Texas last season. However, it's tough to blame him for rooting against Texas this season, with the Longhorns on their way out of the conference. Seeing Texas lose in its final Big 12 regular-season game is presumably something Yormark, and plenty of other Big 12 fans, would like.
Either way, much has been made of those comments in the days since, especially in Austin — where the preseason motto has been "embrace the hate."
Pickin’ up whatcha putting down🤘🏽 https://t.co/X79uaR5vtB
— Chris Del Conte (@_delconte) August 25, 2023
Sarkisian, however, is trying to cool that talk just a bit.
“Let’s not make this more than it is,” he said Monday ahead of No. 11 Texas’ season opener against Rice on Saturday, via ESPN. “We’re focused on what we need to do and why we get to do it. We’re proud to be part of the University of Texas … We know who’s behind us, and that’s OK. Now let’s go play."
As for the comments themselves, Sarkisian admitted the timing was a little weird.
"I got a letter from the commissioner about sportsmanship the day before that speech,” Sarkisian said, via the Austin American-Statesman. “So I'm trying to figure out what are we promoting to our student-athletes and then to go say those types of things? So I'm not guessing he's gonna have his Thanksgiving dinner with us the night before that game."
Texas, which was picked as the favorite to win the Big 12 this season, hasn’t won the conference since 2009. Texas, along with Oklahoma, will join the SEC next season as Utah, Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado are set to enter the Big 12.
The Longhorns, who have won 15 consecutive games against Rice, will travel to No. 4 Alabama next week. They'll open Big 12 play against Baylor on Sept. 23.