The end of the line has come for Kevin Sumlin as the head football coach of the Texas A&M Aggies. In six seasons at A&M, Sumlin was 51-26 and in the process he became the first head football coach in school history since Dana Bible to have a winning record in each season at College Station. But what ultimately did Sumlin in were the unrealistic expectations which are thrust on the football program at A&M.
Sumlin took over at Texas A&M in 2012 on the heels of the Aggies joining the Southeastern Conference. That season A&M would go 11-2 which included defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide and winning the Cotton Bowl as they were paced by quarterback Johnny Manziel who won the Heisman Trophy. Since then the Aggies were never able to rekindle that magic as they’ve gone 8-5 in the last three seasons. Under Sumlin the Aggies are only 25-22 within the Southeastern Conference which includes being just 4-14 versus the Auburn Tigers, LSU Tigers, and Alabama as these are consistently the top three teams in the SEC West which ultimately was his undoing.
Boosters and school officials at A&M have left no stone unturned in regards to giving the Aggies some of the best football facilities in the nation. Kyle Field has undergone an extensive renovation, while the State of Texas is littered with some of the top high school football players in the nation. Under Sumlin, the Aggies have produced several first-round picks in the National Football League Draft which includes Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle Jake Mattews and Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett. But even with that A&M has been unable to take that next step as a football program.
Under Sumlin, Texas A&M has generally ranked near the bottom of total defense in the nation in spite of the fact that defensive coordinator John Chavis is earning more than $1.5 million annually. This season the Aggies are ranked 60th in the nation in total defense which is actually an improvement, but they still came up short against Auburn and Alabama while surrendering more than 600 yards to LSU this past Saturday.
Sumlin has also played musical chairs at quarterback. Since 2014, the Aggies have had eight different starting quarterbacks. And in the case of Kyler Murray, Kenny Hill, and Kyle Allen, they all transferred to other Football Bowl Subdivision programs where they have seen playing time. Earlier this year Sumlin also missed out on bringing in quarterback Jarrett Stidham who was seeking to revive his college football career after sitting out last season after starting off with the Baylor Bears. Stidham left Baylor’s football program once the school parted ways with Art Briles as their head football coach. Stidham wanted to come to A&M, but Sumlin ultimately passed on him. Stidham would ultimately join Auburn and his first season with the Tigers has seen him help the program contend for another title in the Southeastern Conference, while the Aggies are 69th in the nation in total offense.
Sumlin also missed out on quarterback Jalen Hurts who is from Channelview, Texas as he ultimately decided on joining Alabama. And at Alabama, Hurts has turned into a household name by helping the Crimson Tide remain in contention for the national championship.
So now that the powers that be a Texas A&M will look towards hiring a new head football coach who’ll be able to keep up with the Joneses in the Southeastern Conference, will they find someone who’ll be capable of doing it? When A&M left the Big 12 Conference in favor of the SEC, it was all about getting out of the shadow of the Texas Longhorns. However while in the Big 12, the Aggies only secured one outright conference title, and you have to go back to 1999 to find the last time in which A&M finished three consecutive seasons ranked.
These are not the days of R.C. Slocum at College Station and whether it was the Southwest Conference, or the Big 12, the Aggies are no longer in a football conference that is simply dominated by two or three teams. I understand that money is being spent ferociously by Texas A&M in order to compete, but being able to go 1-2 versus Alabama, Auburn, and LSU each year is a win in itself. A&M got a boatload money from the Southeastern Conference to join, but the conference itself won out as they now have a media market in Texas which has also given Alabama, Auburn and LSU an even better opportunity to get the top high school football talent from the Longhorn State.
Whomever the new head football coach at Texas A&M will be will also have to deal with the fact that Texas is back on the upswing, while he’ll also have to fend off the Oklahoma Sooners for talent within the State of Texas which is never an easy task.
I understand that people who are spending their money want more bang for their buck, but like I always say, some of these college football programs would be better off being thankful for an 8-4 season and going to a second-tier bowl game instead of believing that they can compete for a conference crown and national title each year. A&M falls into that category as they entered the Southeastern Conference in search of fool’s gold which was only magnified by the attention that they received when Manziel was their starting quarterback. Now the search for finding a new head football coach in College Station has begun as the Aggies are going to be hard pressed finding someone who’ll be able to return the program to the glory days when they were still in the Southwestern Conference.
Source: Sports-reference.com, Cfbstats.com