Kevin Sumlin took the stage for the media at the THSCA Coach’s Convention on Monday morning, and he didn’t seem to be under as much pressure as many think he is. He cracked wise with several, and told one reporter whose cell phone went off that if he was his player, he’d be running.
Many have described this as a win-or-go-home season for Sumlin. It’s not that he hasn’t won, he has, he has a 44-21 record overall and a 21-19 record in the toughest conference in the nation. It’s how he’s been losing, it’s how his teams have started off so strong and then faded down the stretch that has given his doubters ammunition. A particularly crazy stat: Sumlin had arguably the best quarterback in Texas A&M’s history, and he never went further than a tie for second in the SEC West.
For many schools, that combined with his out of the world recruiting would be just fine, but this is Texas A&M, where championships are expected, even if they haven’t won their conference since 1998. His bowl game record is also less than ideal for someone who recruits so well, the most recent loss to former Big 12 foe Kansas State had to sting those who are proud of conference affiliation.
So, this season, Sumlin is on the hot seat, and is looking to replace one of the Aggies’ best defensive linemen of all time, Myles Garrett. Sumlin doesn’t think it’ll be too terribly hard to find people who can play.
“These young receivers, they’re really good players. And that’s what you recruit. They came here to play because they knew we were gonna lose guys, everybody was looking at us like ‘well, you lost your top guys’, well guess what, we recruited off of that. They came here to play, and they can play.”
Time will tell if Sumlin’s confidence is well-placed. His job will likely not be in immediate peril if he loses a game, but it’s fairly well known that another 8-5 season likely won’t be good enough. He’ll have a full 13 games to right the ship, but massive games with UCLA, LSU, Alabama, and Auburn are fairly imposing as the Aggies currently stand.
A&M will open their season with UCLA on September 3rd in the Rose Bowl.
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