Aggies' Sumlin hits the ground running

December, 21, 2011
12/21/11
9:00
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New Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin was introduced at a news conference on Monday morning in College Station, but that was only the beginning of a whirlwind first week on the job.

The rest of the early afternoon was spent meeting with former Aggies and other school officials in town before meeting with his team at 4 p.m.

After that? Time to recruit. His schedule?
  • Monday night: Two in-home visits with Houston-area recruits, the first at 5:45 p.m.
  • Tuesday-Wednesday: Recruiting junior college players in Mississippi and Louisiana.
  • Thursday: Two in-home visits with Houston-area recruits.
  • Friday-Sunday: Hosting recruits on campus for a recruiting weekend in College Station.

Sumlin's life now means finding a balance between his current team in College Station, future (committed but unsigned) team scatted around Texas and abroad and family back in Houston.

"The separation from your family is not nearly as bad as it could be when you’re moving long distances," said Sumlin, noting this move would be much less difficult than his move from Oklahoma to Houston in 2007.

Sumlin's daughter, a freshman in high school, came with her basketball team to see Texas A&M's win over USC on Sunday night. He made the 90-minute drive after the game to take his daughter back to Houston and drove back to Aggieland on Monday morning to begin the dead period before signing day in February.

For now, with his old staff preparing for the TicketCity Bowl and his new team prepping for the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas, he's caught in limbo. The Aggies practiced on Saturday, but Sumlin could only sit back and watch as interim coach Tim DeRuyter (defensive coordinator and the new head coach at Fresno State) got bowl preparation underway.

"I’ve really been able to observe and watch practice and kind of evaluate some things," Sumlin said. "There’s a lot of guys out there that I wish were coming back, to be honest with you."

Sumlin says the strength of this team is its offensive line, and he'll get plenty of chances to evaluate when the Aggies play their bowl game, coincidentally back in Sumlin's home of Houston.

"It’ll give me an opportunity to get on back and maybe spend a little more time with my family before this thing gets really crazy and be involved in practice and activities and continue to evaluate where we are with probably a little bit less stress on my family."

For now, Sumlin's caught between a team stocked with seniors and a yet-unhired staff waiting to be assembled. Sumlin, a coach with a history coaching quarterbacks, receivers and coordinating offenses, gets plenty of questions about who his defensive coordinator will be. He's not nearing a hire on that front; he hopes his staff is completed by Jan. 3-4.

"It really doesn’t do us any good right now to hire a bunch of guys, because we’ve got staffs working and we’re in a dead period now," Sumlin said, "so it’s not like guys can go off campus right now and start recruiting."

So, for now, his priority is getting to know his new team, on and off the field. As he works around the facilities, he grabs players for informal, impromptu one-on-one meetings, because "you get a different answer" to questions than if he sets a rigid schedule for his players to spend time with him in his office.

"Change is difficult for anybody. ... Certainly you want people to adapt to you, but as a coach, you have to be sensitive and know that these guys didn’t sign up for you necessarily. They signed up for Texas A&M and the last coach," Sumlin said. "You’ve got to be sensitive to players and change, but you’ve got to push forward and I think as guys get to understand what your expectations are, it becomes easier, but certainly, that doesn’t happen overnight."

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