UPDATED 6:01 p.m. ET: In a press release, Texas A&M has confirmed the hiring of Kevin Sumlin as its next head coach.
“It is with great pride that we announce Kevin Sumlin has accepted an offer to become the next head football coach at Texas A&M University,” A&M athletic director Bill Byrne said in a statement. “We began this search process a little over a week ago and spoke to many worthy and qualified candidates, but my decision, which was made in consultation with (Texas A&M) President (R. Bowen) Loftin, kept leading me to Kevin. We met this morning to finalize the offer. I believe he is the right person to lead our football program into the Southeastern Conference. First of all, Kevin is a terrific person. He is also one heck of a recruiter and he will put together a great staff.”
In his statement, Sumlin thanked the Aggies for the opportunity while also expressing how difficult it was to leave a university that gave him his first opportunity as a head coach.
“I am very excited about the opportunity to serve as the head football coach at Texas A&M University,” Sumlin said. “Having coached there before, I understand the culture and embrace the commitment by the 12th Man regarding Aggie football. Aggieland is a special place and I look forward to working with the young men in the football program and recruiting the type of players we need to be successful in the SEC.”
“With that being said. I can’t thank the University of Houston enough for giving me a chance to become a head football coach. It is tough to leave a group of players who have worked so hard and have done things the right way in taking Cougar football to greater heights.”
A press conference will be held Monday at noon ET to officially introduce Sumlin.
In this latest spinning of the coaching carousel, Sumlin becomes the fourth head coach to leave a school that’s in a non-automatic qualifying conference in the BcS for a job as the head coach at an AQ school.
UPDATED 5:08 p.m. ET: At a press conference addressing the coaching situation for his football program Saturday evening, Houston athletic director Mack Rhoades confirmed that Kevin Sumlin has accepted the head-coaching position at Texas A&M. He also introduced Tony Levine as the Cougars’ interim head coach.
Rhoades stated that he spoke to A&M athletic director Bill Byrne shortly before the start of the press conference, and that an announcement from the Aggies on Sumlin’s hiring is imminent.
Considered the front-runner even before Mike Sherman was officially fired earlier this month, Houston’s Kevin Sumlin is apparently set to be named the new head coach at Texas A&M according to reports streaming in from College Station and surrounding areas.
AggieSports.com reports that the school has made a decision on its new head football coach, with the most likely candidate being Sumlin, although A&M is not ready to announce the hiring. The San Antonio Express-News takes it a step further, writing that “Sumlin is the Aggies’ choice for the gig” and “a press conference announcing Sumlin’s hire could be as early as today.”
The latter paper goes on to note that “A&M made a late run at Georgia coach Mark Richt, who mulled the offer Friday and turned it down Friday night.” UGA athletic director Greg McGarity had subsequently declared there “was no truth whatsoever” to reports linking Richt to the A&M job.
On Friday, Sumlin refused to directly address the speculation connecting him to the Aggies’ opening.
Be that as it may, A&M appears to have finally pulled the trigger on the man who has been at or near the top of its coaching to-do list since Sherman’s Dec. 1 firing. Sumlin has spent the past four years as the Cougars head coach, but will be charged with leading the Aggies as the school makes its way from the Big 12 into the SEC next year.
Sumlin, who had also reportedly drawn interest from Arizona State, Illinois and UCLA, has compiled a 35-17 mark with the Cougars, including a pair of 10-win seasons and three bowl berths. UH got off to a 12-0 start this year, but a loss to Southern Miss in the Conference USA championship game cost the Cougars a shot at not only a perfect season but a BcS bowl berth as well.
In addition to Sumlin, it’s believed A&M interviewed Air Force’s Troy Calhoun, Southern Mississippi’s Larry Fedora — who subsequently took the job at North Carolina — and Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart earlier this week in New York City.
UPDATED 12:21 p.m. ET: Richt released a statement late Saturday morning denying any contact any other school.
“I’ve said many times Georgia is the place I want to be as long as Georgia will have me. That has never changed. And it’s gratifying to know Georgia wants me. I have not talked to any other school about a job nor do I have any interest in doing so. My interest is having a great recruiting year and start building toward next season.”
UPDATED 3:26 p.m. ET: Sumlin has reportedly informed his UH players that he’s leaving for another job. A&M has no plans to make an announcement on a hiring Saturday; however, a press conference could take place as soon as Monday.