Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Thoughts on Sumlin's A&M introduction
By David Ubben
Texas A&M announced it had hired Kevin Sumlin on Saturday, but waited until Monday to introduce the new coach to the media.
He met with reporters for a little more than 40 minutes, and here's a few thoughts from his first meeting with the local media.
- The biggest thing that jumped out: Sumlin referenced the move to the SEC three times in the first 10 minutes, a stark contrast from Mike Sherman's longtime avoidance of the issue that was the most fiery topic in College Station for most of the season. He even did so unprompted in his opening statement. "For me as a football coach to have the opportunity to lead our university into the SEC, to play in arguably the best conference and best division in college football, is an exciting thing for me. ... I can't wait to get to work."
- Sherman shot down notions that his avoidance of the issue meant he wasn't on board with the move. I choose to be skeptical about that. Sherman, though, did have the worthy excuse of a grueling schedule from week to week that he had to deal with. The SEC was still a bit far off and his recruiting class was already stocked with 20-plus members before the season even began. Outside of quenching the thirst of fans, there wasn't a ton of reason for him to talk about it. So, take from that what you will. Either way, it's pretty clear Sumlin is on board.
- Biggest difference from the two: Sumlin couldn't stop smiling. I'm sure getting your first major coaching job is among the happiest days of Sumlin's life, and it showed. Sherman was a good coach, but far from a jolly man. Looks like Sumlin's a bit different in that respect.
- Sumlin's defensive coordinator hire will be huge. Ultimately, I think it's what will determine the success of his early tenure. The importance of defense in the SEC is pretty obvious. It doesn't sound like he's made up his mind on the issue. Both coaching staffs at A&M and Houston will go about their business during bowl game preparations and Sumlin will be a recruiter. He said he's still in the "evaluation process" of deciding who he'll hire. He's got a good one on his staff already, Tim DeRuyter. Keeping him would be a good decision, but who knows what the dynamic between the two is? He's got to find a good fit, whether that's DeRuyter or not.
- Sumlin sounds more than willing to adjust his approach to fit what he needs to do at Texas A&M. He's an offensive guy, but he won at Oklahoma with more of a pro-style attack. At Houston, it was the wide-open passing game keyed by Case Keenum. "I’ve always looked at a job or offense as what do we need to do to win our division. We’re going to recruit to that philosophy. We will sit down and start with that premise. That being said, styles change based on league and based on your ability to be successful and the ability to attract the type of players that are necessary to win in that league. We’re going to be diverse in what we do." Sumlin had a 1,200-yard rusher in 2008 and had six rushers top 620 yards (two in each season) in each of the past three years.