Kevin Sumlin is in trouble at Texas A&M.
Last week, sophomore quarterback Kyle Allen announced his plan to transfer in 2016. Earlier this week, freshman quarterback Kyler Murray followed suit. So for those keeping track, that’s two former 5-star prospects and starters from this past season leaving College Station.
Allen’s decision wasn’t much of a surprise given the fact that he lost the starting role to Murray after nine games. But Murray’s announcement is a head scratcher. Why would a quarterback who ended his true freshman season as the starter decide to just leave a competitive SEC program?
Well, the obvious scenario is that he doesn’t like or trust his coach (or coaches). If nothing else, said coach is having a difficult time keeping order with two capable starting quarterbacks planning to leave early in their college careers. That’s what Kevin Sumlin is facing right now. His team is set to face Louisville in the Music City Bowl on Dec. 30 in Nashville, and he still had Murray listed as its starting quarterback amidst news of his plan to transfer.
“I’m not going to go into specifics about that,” Sumlin told TheEagle.com this past Wednesday. “Just like other players, I have discussed a lot of different things, both positively and negatively. Not just with him, but with a number of other players in the last three days. Those are of a personal nature and discussions have been good, and like I said, I expect him to be out here tomorrow.”
According to Chip Brown of Horns Digest, “Two sources close to the situation said Texas A&M chancellor John Sharp is very concerned about the internal direction of the Aggie football program under Kevin Sumlin, 51, and is looking into the possibility of terminating Sumlin’s contract, which has a $20 million buyout.”
The article also named Houston’s Tom Herman and North Carolina’s Larry Fedora as potential targets to replace Sumlin.
But Sharp shot down the rumors on Friday by calling the report a “fairy tale” and saying it was “completely false” and perhaps “out of the imagination” of the reporter. Still, even if that specific report wasn’t true, Sumlin should be worried about his current job status.
The Aggies had the uncommon advantage of having two capable quarterbacks. But now, Texas A&M will be forced to start third-string quarterback Jake Hubenak in the bowl game.
Hubenak is a sophomore who transferred to A&M from Blinn College over the summer after throwing for 4,052 yards, 47 touchdowns and nine interceptions for the Buccanneers. But he played a limited role for the Aggies this season, with just 92 yards and a touchdown on 12-of-27 passing.
Sumlin has also seen a consistent slide in the hierarchy of SEC coaches since A&M joined in 2012.
He had a “once in a lifetime” talent in Johnny Manziel and was able to exceed expectations in the Aggies’ debut season. He looked like one of the nation’s best young coaches and among the upper echelon of the SEC. But since 2012, his teams have failed to win more games than the previous season, finishing 9-4 in 2013, 8-5 in 2004 and 8-4 in 2015 — which could change after the Music City Bowl.
Sumlin became an afterthought heading into the 2015 season after several other young coaches made tremendous progress with their programs, while the Aggies failed to live up to high expectations. But now, he’s gaining negative attention and is perhaps in danger of losing his job after failing to keep one of his two blue chip quarterbacks.
Sumlin is facing a hot seat and perhaps even on it as Texas A&M prepares for its upcoming bowl game, regardless of whether Sharp wants to acknowledge it.