As a journalist, I’m always skeptical when someone isn’t allowed to talk. So when I read that Texas senior defensive lineman Moro Ojomo is taking a Steve Sarkisian-enforced break from talking to reporters “for a while” after criticizing the Longhorn’s culture, my immediate reaction was to question why.
First, here’s what Ojomo said about his younger teammates and the vibe at large in Austin (per ESPN).
They’re 18- to 22-year-olds that want to chase women, want to chase money, want to chase alcohol and they don’t see the future. They’re distracted by what’s in front of them. It’s such a hard thing, especially guys that haven’t been in a winning culture.
They’re always talking about coming in here and changing stuff. It’s like ingrained. You’re uprooting, what? 10 years of shit that’s just been let go.
Now, here’s Sarkisian’s explanation for cutting off a fifth-year senior who has been at the university longer than he has.
“It’s a little disheartening that one guy makes a statement and all of a sudden, we’ve got a team full of guys that like to do things outside of the program that we don’t adhere to.
“He should not have done that in public. If you’re a family, you don’t go out and talk about family business. You take care of things internally. I think his intentions were right, but the delivery and the forum that he used was poor.”
I largely agree that calling out teammates in the media creates a distraction, and it wasn’t fair to Ojomo’s teammates to speak on their behalf. That said, he didn’t name anyone specifically, and that kind of honesty means a lot more coming from a peer than it does coming from a coach. And Ojomo said as much, according to 247 Sports.
“Whatever senior class changes the tide for Texas is going to be extremely memorable, because it’s the players. Coaches come and go. The players have to make a stand and say, ‘Enough is enough. Seven-and-six BS Texas isn’t happening anymore. We have the ability. We have the talent. Get your mind right. We’re gonna go win.’”
It sounds like Ojomo is pleading for some accountability, yet he’s the only one who got it. Also, note that Sark didn’t outright deny the accusations leveled by his player. If this culture hasn’t already been addressed in-house, it should be. If it was, it clearly didn’t take because there’s irrefutably a problem. The lengthy list of embarrassing stories and the even longer list of embarrassing losses is more than enough evidence that the program lacks guidance and leadership.
In the 2021 season alone, they had something called #MonkeyGate, when an assistant coach’s stripper girlfriend’s pet monkey attacked a trick-or-treater. (She blamed it on the child.) A coach lost his shit on the team bus after their loss to Iowa State, and his tirade was filmed by one of the players he was berating, who posted it online. Sark and wide receiver Joshua Moore got into an altercation at practice. Moore transferred. As did on-again, off-again starting quarterback Casey Thompson. The team finished 5-7 despite consistently loaded recruiting classes. That record was good for seventh in the Big 12. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Baylor, Iowa State, and West Virginia all ended the season ahead of Texas.
That said, a bunch of alums withholding donations because they’re upset that they can’t belt out the school’s racist song before every game speaks to a delusional fanbase. Underwhelming to outright-bad teams have been the norm in Austin since Mack Brown left, so perhaps they’re not aware that their team is a clown show despite the circus unfolding before them.
If I’m Sarkisian, I’m ecstatic that one of my seniors is fed up with his teammates acting like they’re God’s gift to football, and emphatically voiced his displeasure over their entitled behavior. Sark doesn’t have that kind of juice in the locker room, and so what if Ojomo doesn’t either. (Although he may now.)
My lord, someone give this defensive lineman a podium and a microphone and clear out. He said something true, and now what’re you going to do, close his file?
Nah, promote him to team captain, line him up to appear on a couple of podcasts, support him, listen to him. Anything but silence him.