After the surprising RichRod scandal that consequently lost him his job, the Arizona Wildcats have hired a new head coach in Kevin Sumlin. Sumlin started his head coaching journey in 2008 at Houston and built them up to a fairly good program. He left for Texas A&M after a great 2011 season of 12-1 and had a good amount of success there before being fired after the 2017 season.
Texas A&M Tenure
Despite a few of the mediocre looking records, Kevin Sumlin did a good job as the Aggies’ head coach.
Sumlin took the sensational Johnny Manziel-Mike Evans combo to an 11-2 year in his first year with the team and ended the season ranked #5 after a 41-13 thrashing of Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. In 2013, A&M finished 9-4 after another solid season of Johnny Football connecting with Evans and a few tough losses.
2014 marked the first year without his 1-2 punch, but he still took the team to an 8-5 year. 2015 and 2016 went the same as 2014, with each year seeing A&M climb into the top-10 during the season but finishing unranked.
2017 saw the end of Kevin Sumlin as a Texas A&M Aggie. He led them to a 7-5 record, which is not awful, but the program wanted better. Sumlin’s downfall pretty much came in the season opener against UCLA, where the Aggies opened up a 44-10 lead but could not hang on and lost 45-44.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Sumlin’s offense was always very potent. No matter how many or few weapons he had, his teams always put up plenty of points. He also had plenty of success with quarterbacks who like to run such as Johnny Manziel and Kenny Hill.
One thing he could not master was the defensive side of the ball. Many times, his defenses could not keep the leads his offenses jumped out to, even if they happened to be up 44-10. In fact, his 2017 team gave up 30.7 points per game.
Another thing Kevin Sumlin did well in his time in College Station was recruiting in the state of Arizona. He consistently got good players to come down and play for him at A&M, including 2014 and 2015’s number 1 players in the state, Kyle Allen and Christian Kirk.
The Right Hire?
Based on the strengths and weaknesses of Sumlin stated above, I think Sumlin is a good fit in Tucson. He has the sensational Khalil Tate to run the offense that was oh so fun to watch with Johnny Manziel, and he will most likely have even better success recruiting Arizona now that his school is located in the state.
The only problem is that the Wildcats’ defense is young and not great in the first place, so pairing that with a coach who has never been known for his defenses is not ideal. He is reunited with d-coordinator Marcel Yates though, which should be a good thing.
All in all, Kevin Sumlin is the right man for the job. He has plenty of wins (in the extremely tough SEC West nonetheless) under his belt to show that he can have sustained success for a while.
He will be the positive change that Arizona needs to get away from the negativity they are currently shrouded in, and he will hopefully take the Wildcats to their first-ever Rose Bowl sooner rather than later.