New Texas coach Sarkisian defends ‘The Eyes of Texas’

FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2019, file photo, Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian watches warm-ups before an NCAA football game against LSU in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Sarkisian made the most of his final game with Alabama and three of the most dangerous weapons in college football during the College Football Playoff national championship game against Ohio State on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt, File)
FILE - In this Nov. 9, 2019, file photo, Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian watches warm-ups before an NCAA football game against LSU in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Sarkisian made the most of his final game with Alabama and three of the most dangerous weapons in college football during the College Football Playoff national championship game against Ohio State on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt, File) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

AUSTIN, Texas – Fresh off a national title with Alabama, Steve Sarkisian plans big changes to Texas’ football program.

“The Eyes of Texas” isn't one of them.

At his introductory press conference Tuesday, Sarkisian defended the controversial school song and said his players will “sing it proudly.”

His predecessor, Tom Herman, faced criticism from fans and pressure from the administration when some players didn’t join the traditional postgame singing of the song for several games in protest over racist elements of the song’s past.

Sarkisian said that while discussion about “The Eyes of Texas” and other issues are welcome, “‘The Eyes of Texas’ is our school song. We support that song.”

Sarkisian spoke as the Longhorns coach for the first time a day after helping Alabama win its sixth national championship in 12 seasons. The Crimson Tide offensive coordinator finished his time under Nick Saban by overseeing an offense that gained 621 yards in a 52-24 win over Ohio State.

Texas, without a conference championship since 2009, is itching to see if Sarkisian can produce similar results in Austin.

“I can’t wait to see what you do,” Texas athletics director Chris Del Conte said while introducing Sarkisian. “If there is any indication (from) what happened last night, come on.”