Kevin Sumlin‘s first press conference as the new coach of Texas A&M went about as well as it could have. Sumlin has great charisma and a confidence about him that’s unmistakable; it’s no wonder he’s an ace recruiter.
Whether or not his next five years will go as smoothly for Sumlin as the Aggies transition into the toughest conference in college football — and the toughest division based on recent history — is yet to be determined.
Some quick notes from Sumlin and A&M athletic director Bill Byrne:
- Sumlin said nothing was finalized on the job until Saturday morning. It was reported that A&M was making a late run at Georgia coach Mark Richt.
- Sumlin will be out recruiting beginning this afternoon. It’ll be a situation similar to what’s happening at Ohio State. The current A&M staff will continue to prepare and coach the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas while Sumlin handles A&M’s 2012 class.
- Byrne said Sumlin’s basic contract, which has not been finalized, is for five years at $2 million annually. Never thought I’d refer to a $2 million salary as “modest”, but it reveals two very important facts: 1) Sumlin really wanted the job (he could have negotiated for more) and 2) it leaves plenty of wiggle room for Sumlin to tackle his first major assignment — hire the best damn defensive coordinator that wiggle room will allow.
Which brought up a good question: how does Sumlin, an offensive mind, adjust to a league that has been known for outstanding defensive play?
“Wherever I’ve been, we’ve done what’s necessary to win that league or division,” Sumlin said. “We’re going to do what’s necessary to win [in the SEC]… we’re going to be diverse in what we do.”
Indeed. A&M’s been a .500 program or so for the past decade in the Big 12. It’s not going to get any easier in the SEC. But, the best minds navigate to the highest levels, and Sumlin’s a bright mind.
Sumlin and A&M will be one of the most-watched, and certainly most-scrutinzed, teams for the next few years.
For today, though, Sumlin’s press conference was smiles and rainbows.
“I have a real appreciation for the traditions here at Texas A&M,” said Sumlin, who was an assistant at A&M from 2001-02. “It’s a very, very special place.”