By John P. Lopez
On Wednesday, Texags.com posted that freshman quarterback Kyler Murray was thinking of transferring away from Texas A&M. This after news that Kyle Allen the sophomore quarterback for the Aggies already announced he was transferring, possibly to the University of Houston.
The Kevin Sumlin/Kyler Murray story is extremely fluid. But here are a few key notes as I’ve heard them through various sources this afternoon and evening.
- Kyler Murray remains an Aggie. For now. But rest assured, after the Aggies’ first bowl game football practice Wednesday, when Kevin Sumlin said he expected Murray back for practice on Thursday it was largely wishful thinking.
- Sumlin and Murray’s father, Kevin, were expected to speak again Wednesday evening. Kyler Murray has told coaches and athletic department personnel that he truly loves the Texas A&M experience, his teammates, the school and wants to be an Aggie. However, the direction and coaching of the Aggie offense has been a huge disappointment and soured Murray on whether A&M actually is the best place for him to play football.
- Kevin Murray is looking for assurances that the changes in the offensive approach are significant and are the best fit not just for Kyler’s talent, but offensive personnel across-the-board, which underachieved badly this season. If Murray stays, then an almost complete overhaul of the offensive staff likely would happen.
- Without question, this one decision could be Sumlin’s critical-mass moment. In recent seasons, Sumlin has had one three-star quarterback (Jameil Showers), two four-star quarterbacks (Matt Davis and Kenny Hill) and one five-star (Kyle Allen) transfer. Kyler Murray would be the fifth highly regarded quarterback to transfer, and the second five-star player. It’s not just fans and former students whose frustration is palpable. The relationship between Sumlin and athletic director Eric Hyman at best can be described as strained.
- Why has this happened? Piecing together the gist of various conversations today, clearly Sumlin’s “ivory tower” approach to coaching, as one source put it, has backfired. That is, many believe he remains detached from players’ daily lives — leaving it up to assistant coaches. Sumlin also has earned a reputation for caring little about anything or anyone in the department except those who produce on the field. Stories abound of Sumlin looking the other way when the most talented players miss practice, weight-training or consistently arrive late to meetings or mandatory events.
- That perceived entitlement was masked during Johnny Manziel’s tenure, because of Manziel’s great production. But some say it also was masked by former assistants Kliff Kingsbury’s and David Beaty’s abilities to serve as buffers between Sumlin and players. Kingsbury and Beaty were huge assets in coach-player relationships. Kingsbury, now Texas Tech’s head coach, particularly served as not just a coach who could relate and coach players, but handled the entirety of the offense with little input from Sumlin. Current offensive coordinator Jake Spavital is considered more indecisive and a yes-man to Sumlin.
- There is some sentiment that the Murray transfer question will not be resolved until after the Aggies’ bowl game, at which point significant staff changes will occur. Or else.