If you have lived under a rock this past week, we are here to inform you that Kevin Sumlin is the new head football coach of the Arizona Wildcats.
Sumlin was fired by Texas A&M back in November, and we thought it would be interesting to see what folks from his previous stop think about him.
Managing editor Rush Roberts came through with some great answers.
Here is our Q&A.
Sumlin won 11 games in his first season, but then regressed from there. What led to that decline and, ultimately, his firing?
This is the existential question that plagued A&M fans for years. Was 2012 an anomaly or was he a victim of his own success? The reality is probably a little of both. I think that expectations soared after that first season, and that suddenly became the benchmark for many fans and boosters, despite the fact that it was an obvious historical outlier.
The Kyle Field renovations helped to bolster those expectations further and as the 8-5 seasons reeled off, the collective patience of everyone eventually wore too thin.
How did A&M fans feel about his firing?
Collectively, fans realized that for whatever reason, the odds of hitting double-digit wins again in the immediate future were diminishing rapidly. Most folks understand that he’s a very good coach who brought A&M to the next level, but couldn’t quite step into that solid second-tier of the SEC West like LSU or Auburn.
There are of course a few blowhards in the fanbase who think he is a bad coach who was just collecting a paycheck because this is college football, where the laziest and bitterest fans tend to be the loudest.
What are Sumlin’s best qualities as a coach? What are his worst?
Our general consensus at GBH was that he did a tremendous job at building a program, but struggled mightily to build a cohesive team. That’s probably the most succinct way to sum it up.
How do you think he will recruit at Arizona, a school in a similar region as Texas A&M but with fewer resources?
Very well. He recruited well at Houston, and also manged to pull some elite recruits out of Arizona while at A&M (Kyle Allen, Christian Kirk).
Sumlin mentioned he wanted to bring more explosiveness to Arizona on both sides of the ball. How would you describe his coaching philosophy?
That’s hard to define. I would say that his philosophy at A&M was much more wide open during his first couple of years (2012-2013), but that may have been due in large part to Manziel. Either way, the team migrated away from that starting in 2014 and tried to establish a more traditional SEC ball control mentality before enough talented pieces were fully in place. If he’s willing to give Khalil Tate a free hand to run the offense, it will be lots of fun to watch.
Sumlin is expected to add Noel Mazzone as his offensive coordinator. Is that a good thing?
No. It’s not. I was ready to give him the benefit of the doubt and overlook all the UCLA fans who warned us when he was hired in 2016, but I learned the hard way. Mazzone’s offense is maddeningly inconsistent, and he’ll often stubbornly stick to the same few concepts over and over even when they are not working. It’s going to be a huge shame if Khalil Tate isn’t allowed to flourish, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Again, it depends on whether or not Sumlin gives Mazzone full autonomy over the offense, which he has tended to do in the past.
Aside from Johnny Manziel, it seems like Sumlin’s A&M teams had quarterback issues. Why is that?
Oh boy. There is so much to dissect here. Basically, a lot of young QBs who came after Johnny thought they could attain the same level of play and prestige without putting in the tough work that Manziel did. Sumlin could definitely have handled the Kyle Allen/Kyler Murray situation better also. And just when he thought he was starting to get back where he wanted to be, the starting QB broke his ankle in the opening game of 2017 and was out for two months.
Do you think Sumlin is the type of guy that will bolt Arizona for a better opportunity if he has success?
That’s hard to say. He made it clear when he was getting offers from USC in 2013 that he wanted to stick it out at A&M until he won something. Not sure if he does the same if given the opportunity to move to a USC or similar prestigious school a second time around.
Can we have the SwagCopter?
Sure thing. We have a tank now.