SEC Extra Points: Recruiting Debacle Stokes Fire Under Kevin Sumlin's Hot Seat

Barrett Sallee@BarrettSalleeSEC Football Lead WriterMay 5, 2016

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin
Texas A&M head coach Kevin SumlinStacy Revere/Getty Images

While you were sleeping, Texas A&M's 2017 recruiting class crumbled.

First, there was the decommitment of 5-star quarterback Tate Martell—a dual-threat star from Henderson, Nevada, who had been pledged to the program since Aug. 20, 2015.

Immediately after the decommitment of the unquestioned star of the upcoming class, Aggies wide receiver coach Aaron Moorehead issued a subtweet that seemingly could be connected to Martell's announcement.

Later, he clarified that the tweet wasn't directed at Martell.

There was more damage to come though, because early Thursday morning, 4-star wide receiver Mannie Netherly dumped the Aggies and specifically referenced Moorehead's tweets.

Later, 5-star uncommitted wide receiver Tyjon Lindsey announced on Twitter that he'll no longer be considering the program (h/t Cleveland.com): "I would like to say thank you to TAMU & fans but due to some tweets subtweeted towards my brother, I will no longer be looking at A&M." However, he later deleted the tweet.

Moorehead did his best to extinguish the firestorm by issuing a statement Thursday morning—where else—on Twitter.

If you hear loud noises coming from the Texas A&M football complex this morning, chances are it's from head coach Kevin Sumlin storming through the building, slamming doors and trying to get control of his program.

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"I've addressed it with Aaron," Sumlin said on Thursday's teleconference. "We are still working through that. He has taken responsibility for his actions. We'll move on from there. Basically, that discussion has been had and Aaron has taken full responsibility. We'll talk about it from there."

That's a big problem, because Sumlin enters 2016 on one of the hottest seats in the country after his quarterbacks struggled for a second straight year, the offense finished eighth in the SEC in yards per play (5.59) and former 5-star quarterbacks Kyler Murray and Kyle Allen decided to transfer during a two-week span in December 2015.

Sumlin has made some positive moves this offseason, including the hiring of offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and the signing of graduate-transfer quarterback Trevor Knight. But the appearance of a program that's out of control is precisely what heated up his seat to "scorching" last December, and now he has something similar to deal with.

You can't have assistant coaches taking what should be private issues public on social media. Adults are supposed to be the adults in the recruiting business, and any adult should recognize that social media is essentially a self-managed public relations outlet that should be run as such (same rule applies for soon-to-be NFL draft picks like Laremy Tunsil).

A head coach has to have control of the message. Whether that's fair to Sumlin—who likely wasn't with Moorehead at 11:36 p.m. on Wednesday night when the first tweet was sent—really doesn't matter.

Sumlin has to have a set philosophy and guidelines on how his assistants are supposed to handle themselves on social media, since social media is now even more public than other events that coaches typically attend, like booster club meetings.

A program that is out of control is the last thing Sumlin needs, and the events of Wednesday night/Thursday morning give that impression yet again.

Blessing in Disguise

Tennessee head coach Butch Jones
Tennessee head coach Butch JonesKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Former Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley didn't exactly leave Butch Jones a loaded roster when Jones took over prior to the 2013 season, and building that depth has been Jones' top priority since signing on the dotted line.

The Vols will enter the 2016 season as one of the deepest and most experienced teams in the country, and injuries to several potential contributors created even more depth for Jones to work with.

"Even though we had 24 individuals out for the Orange and White game, that was a tremendous opportunity for other individuals to put their football identity on video," Jones said prior to an alumni event at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta on Wednesday. "We have what's called a 'football identity video' that's put together for every player in our program, and they are constantly putting their identity on that video."

One of the players who stepped up in the face of massive roster issues this spring is wide receiver Jeff George.

The 6'6", 190-pound junior college transfer looked like a red-zone force in the spring game when he caught four passes for 28 yards and caught a jump ball for a touchdown from Quinten Dormady.

"I thought Jeff George—the way he concluded and ended spring—will really provide confidence and momentum moving forward this summer," Jones said. "He's one of those individuals who is going to stay up here in the month of May."

The Vols return a loaded defensive front; stars at linebacker and in the defensive backfield in Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Cam Sutton, respectively; a veteran quarterback in Joshua Dobbs; two stars in running backs Alvin Kamara and Jalen Hurd; and some talented wide receivers in Josh Malone, Josh Smith and Preston Williams.

Role players took on more responsibility this spring, and Tennessee's football program will be better for it.

No Pressure

Florida head coach Jim McElwain
Florida head coach Jim McElwainRob Foldy/Getty Images

Florida head coach Jim McElwain isn't one to shy away from having a little fun with the media.

Whether it comes to discussing the golf game of reporters or his latest creations on the Big Green Egg (both of those things happened on Wednesday's teleconference), the second-year head coach of the Gators has established himself as one of the most enjoyable coaches in the conference in media settings.

He's also as self-deprecating as they come.

When asked if he cares that Tennessee will likely be picked to win the SEC East—a division McElwain won in his first season in Gainesville—he knocked it out of the park.

"I'm sure that they should be and should beat the heck out of us," McElwain joked. "We're just going to be lucky to show up."

This topic is going to be brought up quite a bit over the next four or five months. The Gators surprised the world by taking the division last year, but quarterback issues and the absence of proven playmakers outside of suspended wide receiver Antonio Callaway make it difficult to pick the Gators again.

In reality, football players and coaches live inside a bubble and only really care about offseason predictions when they get brought up outside the confines of the facility.

"I don't really get caught up in that," McElwain said. "Obviously, that's not my gig. We've got a lot of work here to do to get our organization in line, and that's the fun part—the preparation."

Change In Style

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn
Auburn head coach Gus MalzahnMichael Chang/Getty Images

Gus Malzahn took more of hands-off approach in 2015—his third year as the head coach of the Auburn Tigers.

It didn't work.

The preseason No. 6 team in the country sputtered to a 7-6 record, which landed Malzahn on the hot seat. Something must change, and Malzahn said Wednesday night he is ditching the CEO approach in order to be more involved with the 2016 Tigers, per James Crepea of AL.com:

There's a lot of moving parts to be a head coach in our league, and at my core I'm a football coach. That's what I do best, and so sometimes you can get distracted with other things, and I think the easiest way to answer that is, I'm not going to be distracted with the other things when the season gets here. And I'm going to coach football.

It couldn't hurt.

Malzahn had been much more hands-on with the offense during his entire coaching tenure up until last season and had success with all of them regardless of the style of his quarterback. Rhett Lashlee—a Malzahn protege—will still be the offensive coordinator and work directly with the quarterbacks, but a little more input from the architect of the tempo-based power attack couldn't hurt.

What's more, Malzahn—a former wide receiver at Arkansas and Henderson State—is breaking in a new wide receivers coach after Dameyune Craig left for LSU and former Tiger Kodi Burns stepped in. With youth all over the roster outside, some firsthand lessons from Malzahn could go a long way toward helping Burns evolve as a coach and developing the young receiving corps.

Quick Outs

  • Tennessee tight end Neiko Creamer will seek a transfer, head coach Butch Jones said at the Hall of Fame on Wednesday. "Neiko has worked very hard. We're going to help him find a spot where he fits in and can go and help immediately." Creamer played in one game and didn't make a catch as a redshirt freshman in 2015.
  • Florida quarterback Treon Harris and wide receiver Antonio Callaway haven't been with the team since January, and there's been no movement on their suspensions. "Status quo," McElwain said.
  • Will Muschamp wanted to hire former South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore as an adviser. But Lattimore's work with prospective student-athletes through the Marcus Lattimore Foundation made it impossible under NCAA rules. No hard feelings, though. "Marcus is still going to be a part of what we do," Muschamp said. "He's going to be a Gamecock forever."

Quotes obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted. Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com unless otherwise noted. Recruiting information courtesy of 247Sports.

Barrett Sallee is the lead SEC college football writer and national college football video analyst for Bleacher Report, as well as a host on Bleacher Report Radio on SiriusXM 83. Follow Barrett on Twitter @BarrettSallee.