Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin kicks off our SEC Media Days coverage. New to the SEC and to College Station, the ex-Houston coach is getting his baptism into the big-time head coaching world today.
We’ll live blog the gist of his conversation and then circle back with a stand-out quote or two soon after.
* Sumlin says he’s glad to head things off because he didn’t want anyone to say the “new guy” threw things off schedule.
* Sumlin says he and the A&M family are excited about joining the SEC.
* He seems a tad bit nervous, but it’s early and he’s likely never seen a room of media as big as he’s seeing right now. Seems likable and conversational, however.
* Sumlin says he and his team understand how tough the SEC is and he said everyone’s pointed out to him — and he was already aware of it — that the Aggies will face the last four BCS title-winners all in his school’s first season.
* Sumlin said walking into the SEC’s coaching meeting this spring, he knew the move to the SEC “was real.”
* He says he’s been through the search for a quarterback before — which helps — but it’s always more comfortable having a starter come through spring practice. He says at the latest A&M will name a starter a couple of weeks before the school’s opener.
* “We need to be bigger and faster against the SEC’s defenses.” That was Sumlin’s answer when asked if he needs to change his system in the new league.
* Sumlin pointed out that his system is not “pass happy” and that his pass-run split is usually a lot closer to 55-45.
* “We took a little team from Houston over to Starkville and won once. We’ve played against some teams in the SEC.” Sumlin added that he’ll know more about the strength of the league next February than he does right now.
* The coach says he’s focused on the opener with Louisiana Tech, but “there is no doubt” that A&M fans are excited about the SEC home opener against Florida. Points to ticket sales as proof.
* Asked if moving the kickoff spot shows that football is moving toward a kickoff-free game, Sumlin says he’s not in favor of nixing that element from the game.
* On a sidenote, he’s now much more comfortable. When he got through the opening remark and into the Q&A portion, Sumlin seemed more at ease. He seems more relaxed than most SEC first-timers. He cooled off quick… in a good way.
* Sumlin says Texas will be the emphasis in recruiting, but “being in the SEC has improved our footprint nationally, particularly moving east.” Says A&M will have to have a “national recruiting prowess” to become the type of program he wants to become.
* Asked about LSU possibly becoming A&M’s last game of the season, Sumlin said he has nothing to do with scheduling.
* Sumlin says the SEC West is “a pretty damn hard league.” He says the combination of size and speed are what sets the league apart. “And the depth in the front.”
* A&M will have to develop depth up front on defense as it moves from a 3-4 to a 4-3.
* Sumlin says tailback Christian Michael “looks fine” and that he pulled him out of spring practice just for safety’s sake.
* Seems to be tired of having people act like he didn’t know A&M was heading to the SEC when he took the job. Makes it clear he knew what he was walking into. He also said that he expects to win. (What coach would say otherwise?)
* Les Miles said Missouri and Texas A&M need to “strap it up” to join the SEC a few months ago and Sumlin isn’t disagreeing. Says he knows what he’s talking about having come from the Big 12 and Oklahoma State. Well done.
Our overall grade for Sumlin’s “performance” based on comfort, friendliness, openness… we’ll give him a 4 on a 1-5 scale. A good debut for A&M’s young coach. No wonder Aggie fans are excited. Now all he’s got to do is win football games.