The college football coaching carousel swung into action with the end of the regular season last week. Kevin Sumlin and his $5 million per year contract are out at Texas A&M while Chip Kelly is in at UCLA. Florida and Mississippi have already replaced their coaches, while Nebraska, Tennessee, Arizona State and Mississippi State are just a few of the teams who will join the Aggies in searching for a new face to stand at the helms of their programs.
First things first, I like Kelly in Westwood. He was hitting the California recruiting trails hard when he was guiding the University of Oregon to multiple top-five finishes. Thus, he should be able to draw top talent to the Bruins. The fact that he is pretty familiar with most of his competition in the Pac 12 should also serve him well.
The only issue I can see, is that UCLA is hardly a hotbed for football and maybe that will be a problem, but maybe it won’t. Any school willing to invest $24 million in the top free agent football coach in the country is certainly serious about winning. I am guessing if Kelly can get the Bruins to start piling up the wins, then interest in their program is sure to increase exponentially.
Sumlin’s eight wins a year were not enough to save him at A&M. Ironically, it seemed like the Aggies coach was fired after their shocking loss to Kelly’s new team in the first game of the season. At least that’s the way it looked in the press and on the college football message boards. Of course, this was not the case. Sumlin lasted the entire year which meant he once again got to coach his team to a bunch of losses at the end of the season, which pretty much cemented the fact he was not going to be employed at A&M any longer.
Sumlin had an interesting run in College Station. He came in with Johnny Manziel and appeared to be on his way to making the Aggies the national power their rabid fans have wished they were since the program fell from prominence in the late part of the last century. But after that first year, he turned into an eight-win coach and that was not enough to save his job. The Aggies have invested many hundreds of millions of dollars in their football program, and they are not going to settle for eight wins. Don’t feel too bad for Sumlin, though. He has millions of dollars he earned from coaching football that he can use to comfort himself.
It will be interesting to see how the open jobs shake out over the next few weeks. Kelly was the top name on the available coaches list and he is gone. Does that make Sumlin the man to get now? He might have issues with in-game coaching, but he has proven himself to be one of the top recruiters in the country, and I’ve got to believe those schools with vacancies would love to get a coach who has proven himself able to secure top recruiting classes on a regular basis. Then again, maybe Sumlin wants a year off to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Who knows? I sure don’t. But I am most definitely excited to find out.