It appears Texas A&M still has Kevin Sumlin on its radar, but the scope is apparently much broader now.
Two days after multiple sources said Texas A&M was prepared to hire Sumlin before the weekend was over, the school has shifted gears and will now make the quest to replace Mike Sherman a process with multiple candidates. Arizona State even withdrew its interest in Sumlin last week because of the belief Sumlin and Texas A&M were close to reaching an agreement.
Sumlin, according to sources, remains on the short list, but that list has expanded to include Louisville head coach Charlie Strong, Southern Miss coach Larry Fedora and Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. Look for Strong and Smart to likely emerge as serious contenders because of their backgrounds coaching in the SEC, which is where the Aggies are headed next season.
While there is a belief that the Aggies pumped the breaks on Sumlin after his Cougars were trounced in the Conference USA Championship game by Fedora’s Eagles, there is also indication a divide among the A&M decision makers caused the slow down, too.
There is concern about Sumlin’s resume that includes some impressive wins and high national rankings but no conference title in four years at UH. There also is the issue of will his wide open offense that gives little attention to ball possession work in the defense-dominant SEC where there are plenty of athletes to neutralize the spread.
Strong and Smart seem much closer on paper to what the Aggies would want to replace Sherman, which is a strong defensive-minded coach and who is aware of what it takes to win the SEC. Strong, who was an assistant at Texans A&M, had been the defensive coordinator for Florida from 2002-2009, where he was part of two BCS national championships with the Gators.
But the Aggies could run into problems landing either one. There is a belief in Louisville that Strong won’t leave and the $2.5 million buyout could make it difficult.
Smart, meanwhile, is preparing the Crimson Tide to meet LSU in the BCS national title game next month so it’s not clear if head coach Nick Saban will give permission for him to interview at this time.
Then there is Sumlin who is now said to be drawing serious interest from UCLA for the Bruins open job.