Texas A&M Football: Why Kevin Sumlin Would Be Crazy to Leave for USC
The rumors and speculation began softly enough, but following this CBS report, the cigar smoke-filled backroom discussions behind USC's top coaching target suddenly came to light: Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin.
In less than a season, the second-year head coach has jump-started an old-fashioned A&M program, modernizing and developing his system in quantifiable results—wins—quickly and, seemingly, without much relapse or backlash. Not only this, but all in A&M's first two seasons in the Southeastern Conference, the nation's toughest athletic league bar none.
Following USC's unceremonious firing of former head coach Lane Kiffin mid-season, the rumor mill began to turn, and it came as no surprise Sumlin's name rose to the top. On top of the results he was producing on the field, Sumlin was relatively young, energetic and connected with both recruits and major boosters—a deadly combination in the cutthroat college football landscape.
As the Trojans' coaching search continues to heat up, Bleacher Report breaks down Sumlin's top-five reasons to settle in to College Station.
Due to Sumlin's charismatic approach and aggressive results, Texas A&M gave the head coach over a million dollar raise after just his first season, seeking to lock him down for years to come. Behind two seasons with at least a combined 19 wins (A&M still has three games remaining this season), Sumlin has transformed the program, and no matter his results for the coming three to four years, the head coach will have a job in College Station.
USC's situation is a little more volatile, and by a little, I mean a lot. After losing Pete Carroll to the NFL, the Trojans have been unable to find a suitable replacement, joining the flurry of programs in a down stretch while searching for the right fit.
If Sumlin left for Los Angeles today, he would be under immediate pressure to elevate the program's performance to the same high level he has at A&M in such a short time. However, USC is a whole other world compared to College Station, and there remains no guarantee Sumlin's system, nor his recruiting tactics, would work at all.
USC's patience wouldn't last long.
When it comes down to comparing California and Texas in terms of the fertility of the respective recruiting grounds, it's basically a toss-up. Throw Florida into the mix and you have the who's who of richest talent pools in the country.
However, Sumlin has established his presence in Texas. And while A&M's recruiting efforts continue to be national, including California, the Lone Star State remains the primary target for the maroon and white. With the second-year head coach's previous tenure at Houston, in addition to the majority of his recruiting-based staff, he has major ties to Texas, not California.
Abandoning one great recruiting state for another may sound equal, but not when you have leverage established in one and have nothing built in the other.
Air Raid Exclusivity
At both Houston and Texas A&M, Sumlin's air raid style of offense has proven to be deadly against opposing defenses, generating yards and points like no other system in the region. The air raid, a modified version of the West Coast spread offense, is fairly well-known nationally, and is utilized by multiple other programs.
However, almost none of those programs reside in the Southeastern Conference. Save for Missouri, Sumlin and A&M are unique in the air raid, and have been successful matching up with tough SEC defenses thus far in the Aggies' initial two seasons.
In the Pac-12, Sumlin would just be one of 11 other programs running a very-similar style offense. Outside of Stanford, which still utilizes the spread on occasion, most every other school runs a high-powered passing offense. Sumlin would lose his exclusivity, a valued commodity in college football (think Georgia Tech and its triple-option).
SEC > Pac-12
It's just not even close.
The SEC's seven consecutive national titles has no equal elsewhere in the country, and even though the Pac-12 has evolved in terms of conference difficultly, it still is no match for the SEC.
As such, competing—and winning—in the SEC stands as a more impressive feat than performing the same at any school in the Pac-12, including USC. Period.
Sumlin has the advantage of holding a prestigious position in one of the SEC's 14 programs, and giving it up to coach in a lesser conference lacks common sense.
As Texas A&M realigned with the Southeastern Conference, it did so under the leadership of Sumlin. When Johnny Manziel received A&M's first Heisman Trophy in 55 years, he did so under the leadership of Sumlin. When the Aggies finished their inaugural season with the league at 11-2, their best record since the 1990s, they did so under the leadership of Sumlin.
A head coach's legacy matters, and Sumlin bonded himself with A&M the moment he took the job two years ago due to the situation the program was in. Looking forward, USC offers opportunities and dollar signs, but A&M owns a factor Los Angeles can't—building a unique legacy.
Not much more can be done at USC. The program has won national titles, Heismans and a plethora of other awards and honors. At A&M, though, the door is wide open.
The Aggies have yet to secure a national championship since 1939, and a conference title since 1998. Not only that, but continuing the legacy of A&M's first coach in the SEC is a strong opportunity as well, especially as Sumlin's influence continues to grow within the College Station community.