With the NFL importing a number of offensive tactics, styles and even offensive-minded coaches from the college ranks these days, it’s no surprise that Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin has been mentioned as a potential candidate for future pro football openings. What is surprising is that after just five years of head coaching experience — five very successful years — Sumlin has become the hottest NFL prospect in the country.
As Sumlin improved his resume last fall, speculation about a potential departure from College Station grew. Naturally, he’s had to calm the fears of Aggie boosters this offseason… as he did this past weekend in Houston:
“(A year ago) We had a coach who was a ‘Conference USA coach’ who had a gimmick offense that couldn’t (work) in the SEC with a team that couldn’t even win the Big XII. We were in over our head as a university and with its coach…
All of a sudden this year that same coach is going to leave and go to the NFL. How does that happen? I didn’t believe that (stuff) from last year and I don’t believe it right now. I love it here, you guys know that…
Maybe later — some time later (he’ll try the NFL). But it won’t be any time soon. My family likes living here and I like living here. Heck, we just got here. People ask me to respond to the (NFL tak) and I say, ‘You’ve go to be kidding me.’ Because I remember what was being said at this time a year ago. I didn’t really respond to that last year, and there’s no reason to respond to this now.”
Three quick observations:
* It’s pretty clear that Sumlin pays close attention to what’s being said about him and his program. Some guys tell you that they don’t listen/read “that stuff.” Sumlin does. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But it’s obvious he’s motivated by the slights and jabs others throw in his direction.
* While I’m sure those kind of barbs about a “Conference USA coach” and a gimmick offense probably appeared on an SEC messageboard or two, I can’t remember any of the SEC media ever suggesting that A&M would fall flat on its face. When the Aggies jumped conferences, a number of national writers and quite a few columnists within the Big XII footprint — especially in the Lone Star State — predicted doom and gloom. At this site, however, we’ve likened TAMU to a pre-Nick Saban LSU — ie: an untapped gold mine — from the outset. Turns out, Sumlin struck gold sooner than anyone could have imagined thanks in large part to his handing a pick axe to a redshirt freshman quarterback named Johnny Manziel.
* As for the NFL talk, well, Aggie fans probably shouldn’t get their hopes up too high. Coaches always say they’re in it for the long haul, yet guys move every year. Chip Kelly loved Oregon right up until the point that the Philadelphia Eagles made him a splashy offer (and NCAA investigators started closing in on him). Does that mean Sumlin will be 88 and out the gate come spring? No. But I wouldn’t bet a half-dollar that he’ll be back in College Station this time next year, either. Situations change and coaches move. Aggie fans should just enjoy the present. If Sumlin does reverse field and leave A&M after another successful campaign this fall, AD Eric Hyman won’t have any problem finding someone else to take over a program that boasts rabid fans, good facilities and a deep recruiting pool.