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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Sumlin takes the hot seat

Kevin+Sumlin
Photo by Photo by: Bryan Johnson
Kevin Sumlin

As year four of the Kevin Sumlin era continues into November, the Aggies seem to be right where they have been every season since Johnny Manziel’s Heisman-winning year in 2012 — in the middle of the pack in the SEC West and out of title contention of any kind. Now, in the aftermath of a 26-10 loss to Auburn at Kyle Field, Sumlin might be facing some questions regarding his job security.
To preface this, there are things Sumlin does that are very good for the program. He has a unique ability to relate to his players, and that translates to him being able to snag highly-rated recruits come National Signing Day. Overall, he has a good relationship with the players, and they have respect for him as a coach. He is the man who led A&M’s charge into the SEC, and helped A&M gain the respect it needed during its first year in the nation’s toughest conference.
Since joining the SEC in 2012, A&M is 6-9 at home in conference play. Even deeper than that, when playing at home against the SEC West “big three” — Auburn, LSU and Alabama — the Aggies are a combined 0-6 in Kyle Field.
Sumlin has brought wins to A&M, and his record at the school is currently 34-14 with 16-14 in SEC play. He has not lost a bowl game during his time with the Aggies, and he has a few top-five upsets under his belt at A&M. Sumlin has the five-star talent on his team and all the tools he needs to build a powerhouse program.
So, after four years, why do the Aggies find themselves in the same “middle-of-the-pack” position instead of in contention with the Alabama’s and LSU’s of the SEC?
Blame the defense all you want, but it has been the offense that has held A&M from taking the next step toward being the brand name program it wishes to be. Since Johnny Manziel led the Aggies to 44 points per game and went 20-6 across a two-year stretch, A&M has scored 32 on average.
Many blame the play calling of offensive coordinator Jake Spavital, and with good reason. However, that all falls back on Sumlin. When the offense is clearly being run ineffectively and not nearly to what its potential can be, when do you take over play calling duties on your own? When do you step in and change something when all is going wrong?
The offense has struggled against top tier opponents since the Manziel days, averaging just 18.2 points per game against the West’s “power three.” Something with the play calls has to change in order to have success against teams such as LSU or Alabama.
A lot of the issues have been at the quarterback position as well. Kyle Allen went from one of the SEC’s best quarterbacks to third string, and Kyler Murray came back down to Earth after a strong breakout performance against South Carolina.
There is a lot Sumlin could have done differently this season. The Alabama game was its own animal, but with A&M’s season slipping away at Ole Miss and Allen clearly being ineffective, he should have been pulled a lot sooner than the fourth quarter. If Hubenak is in the game earlier, maybe the Aggies find their new starting quarterback sooner and save their season. It is yet another season with many “what ifs” next to it. All of it relates back to the decisions that Sumlin makes.
The defense improved quicker than anticipated, so all that separates A&M from title contention is play calling and quarterback play. Whether Kevin Sumlin decides to fix those problems will determine how hot or not his seat will become.

Andre Perrard is a sport management senior and assistant sports editor for The Battalion.

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