As Steve Sarkisian prepares for the College Football Playoff National Championship as the offensive coordinator of No. 1 Alabama, his Texas staff continues to take shape. And there is clearly going to be an SEC and Alabama flavor on both sides of the ball.
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Mississippi State defensive coordinator Zach Arnett has emerged a candidate for the same position on Sarkisian's staff at Texas, sources told CBS Sports. The 34-year-old Arnett just finished his first season with Mike Leach. The Bulldogs improved from 11th in SEC total defense to fifth.
Arnett is a prodigy of Rocky Long, one of the nation's best defensive minds. He spent nine years on the defensive side of the ball with Long at San Diego State as a graduate assistant (2011-13), linebackers coach (2014-17) and defensive coordinator (2018-19). The Aztecs led the Mountain West in total defense in five of those seasons.
CBS Sports previously reported that former South Carolina coach Will Muschamp had turned down a chance to return to Texas as defensive coordinator. Arkansas defensive coordinator Barry Odom is also among being targeted by Sarkisian for the position.
Three current and former members of the Alabama staff have also been mentioned for Sarksian's Texas staff, sources told CBS Sports.
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Former Alabama analyst A.J. Milwee, who was recently named offensive coordinator at Arkansas State under Butch Jones, has drawn interest from Sarkisian. Jones left his Alabama analyst job to take the Red Wolves job three years after leaving Tennessee.
While Sarkisian will call plays at Texas, the opportunity exists for Milwee, 35, to be involved in game-planning is some sort of offensive coordinator role. Before joining Bama as an analyst in 2019, Milwee had spent six years as Akron offensive coordinator.
"He's very good at coaching quarterbacks," former Akron coach Terry
Bowden said. "I love him like a son. [That would be] a big jump. He did a great job for me."
Alabama offensive line coach Kyle Flood and special teams coach Jeff Banks are known to have Sarkisian's interest to continue in their respective positions at Texas.
Flood is a former Rutgers head coach (2012-15) who joined Nick Saban's staff in 2019. Banks is considered one of the best special teams coaches in the country in his second year at Alabama. He spent the previous five years coaching special teams and tight ends at Texas A&M.