One of Steve Sarkisian’s biggest decisions so far at Texas had nothing to do with the depth chart or the starting quarterback. It’s pocket squares and super 120 wool fabric.
Texas’ two previous coaches had the Longhorns wear a dark coat and burnt orange tie on game days. It created a uniform look, as if they were going on a business trip. Khakis and all.
Sarkisian wants the Horns to be themselves. Players arrived at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Saturday in custom-made attire from Reveal Suits, a clothing company owned by Texas ex Carlton Dixon. Everything from burnt orange to teal to pink to baby blue was on display as the new-look Horns strolled down Bevo Boulevard.
It’s likely you’ll see that sharp business look again Saturday when No. 19 Texas (1-0) travels to Arkansas (1-0) in an SEC preview.
“Coach Sarkisian gave us a chance to choose what we want,” defensive tackle Keondre Coburn said. “He said he wanted us to be able to wear what we wanted to wear, feel comfortable, feel how we want to feel and perform on the field. I like how he did that.
“So me, you know, I’m casual. I like the all black,” Coburn added. “I’ve got this all-black tie. But I’m going to change it up.”
Razorbacks fans, who are scooping up Beat Texas T-shirts at area Walmarts, witnessed a 38-17 opening win over Rice. They’ll have on their Saturday best with the Horns in town. Texas and Arkansas were longtime Southwest Conference rivals but stopped playing annually when the Hogs left for the SEC in 1992. UT is 2-3 in the five matchups since, the last coming in a 31-7 Arkansas win in the 2014 Texas Bowl in Houston.
Deion Sanders had this figured out decades ago. If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good, the Hall of Famer once said. That’s exactly what Texas did in a 38-18 win over No. 23 Louisiana in the season opener.
Sarkisian walked down Bevo Boulevard just ahead of his defensive linemen. Coburn looked sharp. Jacoby Jones had a cherry red blazer and bow tie. And Moro Ojomo wore a sleek burnt orange suit.
“Man, ol’ Moro looked like an orange. … He looked orange,” Coburn said with a huge laugh. “I mean, it’s clean on him. I was kind of shaky when Moro said, ‘I’m getting an orange suit.’ How is that gonna really look? But I can’t really lie. Everybody that picked a suit, they really pulled it off. It’s their taste, so you can never hate on their taste.”
Yes, that’s burnt orange, Dixon said Sunday.
“That’s our burnt orange fabric,” the former UT basketball player said. He played for coach Tom Penders in the mid-1990s, around the same time current Longhorns coach Chris Beard was a student manager. “Trust me; I know that one by heart.”
Dixon’s company signed a clothing deal with UT last September during the pandemic. So it didn’t get the attention it otherwise would have. The school has agreed to give every player one suit, shirt and tie. The players picked out their own colors and styles.
Dixon said his entire staff spent a full day this summer taking measurements. Reveal Suits has similar deals with the Florida State and Baylor football teams, along with more than a dozen basketball teams, including Texas’.
Dixon said UT coaching staff members bought several suits for themselves, and that Sarkisian will wear the Reveal brand in the weeks ahead.
“You could tell even when we were doing the fitting, we could see the excitement and the confidence that was brewing even then,” Dixon said. “Coach empowered them and trusted them and essentially said, ‘Hey, guys, you pick what fits you. You pick what suits your style.’”
That they did.
“We’ve got Chris (Adimora), who’s got a pink suit,” Coburn said. “I didn’t know how that was going to work out, but he did it! And it’s nice. You’ve got B.J. (Foster) with this baby blue suit that matches his car. And it’s nice.
“I look at myself and thought, ‘You look clean today.’ I wish I would’ve had more thought, but I look good,” Coburn added.
Hardcore fans might be turned off by suit choices. But Sarkisian will use anything that helps win games, right? NBA and NFL players are pregame fashion plates nowadays, too.
The pregame look got the Horns in the right mindset. Then they went out and dispatched the Ragin’ Cajuns, a Top 25 team that had 20 returning starters.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Hudson Card looked solid in his first game action. All butterflies were gone by the time he was running for the stick on fourth-and-6 from the Louisiana 40. He finished the drive with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Bijan Robinson.
Robinson finished with 176 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns on 24 touches. He was named the Walter Camp national offensive player the week Sunday. He has now had three straight 100-yard rushing games, dating back to last season.
“He’s a stud,” Card said. “Handing him the ball is always a good feeling.”
The players dropped all sort of hints in the postgame press conference that this coaching staff is different. Robinson said, “Sark saw something the play before,” and that’s why Sarkisian called a specific formation for the sophomore’s touchdown catch.
During training camp, linebacker DeMarvion Overshown said it’s hard not to make plays with coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski’s defensive scheme. Overshown had a team-high 13 tackles while middle linebacker Luke Brockermeyer had 10.
Brockermeyer, the son of Texas ex Blake Brockermeyer, has gone from walk-on to season-opening starter during his time in Austin. He and Overshown are likely to be a tackling tandem all season long.
“I love that guy. He comes to work every day,” Overshown said. “I don’t know how many times I hugged him since the game was over. I know how much this means to him with his father playing here and getting his first start, seeing him earn his scholarship since he first got here. I have so much love for that guy. That’s my guy.”
Coburn couldn’t stop talking about how prepared he felt for Louisiana. That’s a credit to Sarkisian’s staff, which has two former head coaches and a wealth of Power Five experience.
Practice well, dress well, play well.
“I’m not going to say it was easy because that’s a great team we just played against,” Coburn said. “But it always seems like we’re built for those situations in practice.
“They showed us some type of way throughout this whole week last week, and I liked that. I’m not really used to that,” he added. “We used to just be like, OK, here it is first time seeing it. But they knew somehow exactly what was going to happen. That was amazing to me.”
This article originally appeared on Hookem: Texas football: Former Longhorn Carlton Dixon helped players ‘suit up’