— -- The Kevin Sumlin era is over at Texas A&M.
A tenure that began with Johnny Football, a win at Alabama and standout recruiting classes ended with the inability to sustain success, especially in SEC play. Texas A&M fired Sumlin on Sunday, and he departs with a 51-26 record in six seasons.
Sumlin's firing opens up an upper-tier job in college football. Texas A&M has the resources, facilities, fan base and location to appeal to a wide range of candidates.
Where do the Aggies go from here? ESPN's search firm is on the case. Senior writer Mark Schlabach and staff writer Sam Khan Jr., who has covered Texas A&M for several years, join me to break down the situation in College Station.
Where the Texas A&M job stands
Adam Rittenberg: The Aggies have invested greatly in the facilities, they get the SEC money and, obviously, they're close to a lot of recruits. But you do wonder why they have not won big consistently? That colors my view of the job a little bit, but it does seem to have everything else going for it with the fan base, the boosters, the location. It's definitely one of the top four or five jobs in the SEC.
Sam Khan Jr.:?It's a good job. One of the top 10 jobs in the country? I don't know. It might be right on the cusp of that. It's a difficult job because of being in the same division as Alabama and LSU.?
Mark Schlabach: New stadium, the football facilities, the amount of money the Aggies were paying Sumlin's coordinators, the amount of money they were paying Sumlin and the length of the contract. Other than maybe California and Florida, Texas is the most attractive state for the recruiting base. Other than having to contend with Nick Saban, there are not many drawbacks, other than maybe some boosters and trustees who have their fingers in the football pie a little bit too much. It takes a different kind of guy, a confident guy, to step into that spotlight, because the demands and the expectations are what they are and maybe are not realistic.
What Texas A&M wants
Khan Jr.: Obviously, they're going to cast a net far and wide for candidates, and financially, they can get anybody. The question is: Who can they attract who will want to come to College Station? Naturally, they're going to go toward someone who has Texas ties in recruiting. To match that Alabama and LSU talent, you need someone who can own the state of Texas and can go head to head with Tom Herman over in Austin and fend off Nick Saban and Ed Orgeron. I don't know if they prefer a defensive- or offensive-minded guy.
Schlabach: It has to be a proven head coach with a track record of winning championships. I don't know if it has to be a guy with Texas ties, but it has to be a guy able to recruit the state. I don't know if it's an offensive guy or a defensive guy. It just has to be a guy who has won - and won big.
Khan Jr.: I don't think the Texas thing is a deal-breaker. At this point, they want someone who can get them to an SEC championship. That is what they spent all this money for. That's the one thing they're missing. They want someone who has proven himself to a degree beyond what Kevin Sumlin had proven. Sumlin did a great job at Houston and took it to great heights, but there are very few guys at the Group of 5 level whom, I think, they would take a risk on. Last year, P.J. Fleck is someone they would have considered. Tom Herman obviously would have been someone they would have gunned for. But outside of someone who appears to be really special, they're going to target the guys who have won at the highest level.
Rittenberg: I wonder if it's not just winning as a head coach, but winning as a head coach in a major conference. You don't see the Power 5-to-Power 5 coaching moves as often as people think. Texas A&M has every right to seek that. I don't know if it can land that, but it has every right to seek that coach because of its resources.