Over the course of the past two seasons, Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin has garnered significant attention for his efforts coaching the Aggies to a 19-6 (10-6 SEC) record and back-to-back top-tier bowl games. This postseason, A&M will visit Atlanta, Ga., on Dec. 31 for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, traveling to the Georgia Dome for the first time in school history for a matchup against ACC runner-up Duke.
However, for Sumlin, the game will mark a homecoming of sorts, as the head coach returns to the very location of his 1985 Peach Bowl as starting linebacker for Purdue.
Despite the Boilermakers' 27-24 shortcoming to Virginia in Atlanta to close the season, the year marked a significant landmark for Purdue, as the program defeated rivals Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame for the first time all in the same season.
"[The Peach Bowl] was a great moment for me, as a player," Sumlin said. "We had a pretty good team. We beat Ohio State, Michigan and Notre Dame for the first time [all in the same year]. I had a great experience there and I can't wait to come back. It's been a great bowl game. I'm looking forward to it."
Sumlin exceeded expectations during his time with Purdue from 1983-1986 and currently ranks No. 7 on Purdue's list of all-time tackle leaders with 375 (191 solo, 184 assisted). The Alabama native amassed a strong portion of those tackles during his All-Big Ten 1984 and 1986 seasons, combining for 223 tackles, and ranked fifth league-wide statistically his senior year.
As a walk-on in 1983, Sumlin proceeded to earn his position on the squad, leading the group in tackles (91) while garnering the Sports Illustrated All-America Walk-on award. Sumlin also finished his career with six interceptions.
Sumlin's success at Purdue led to multiple assistant positions following graduation at Washington State, Minnesota, Wyoming and his alma-mater, not to mention a short tenure at A&M under R.C. Slocum.
As the Aggies' head coach returns to Atlanta for the first time since his Peach Bowl appearance almost three decades ago, A&M will be tested with an unprecedented Duke squad looking to reach 11 wins for the first time in school history.
All quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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