Pressure ramps up for Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) —
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin answered a single football question on Tuesday before the focus shifted to his job security and comments from a university system regent calling for his firing.
Sumlin cut off the reporter before the question was even done, no doubt prepared for it after the Aggies squandered a 34-point third-quarter lead in a loss to UCLA in their opener on Sunday night.
"People are frustrated," he said. "I'm frustrated about a lot of things. I'm not real happy. I'm sure there's a lot of things being said about this program."
That includes what was posted on Facebook by regent Tony Buzbee, a Houston attorney.
"Our players were better tonight," Buzbee wrote Sunday night after the stunning loss. "Our players were more talented tonight. But coaches were dominated on national TV, yet again. I'm only one vote on the Board of Regents but when the time comes my vote will be that Kevin Sumlin needs to GO. In my view he should go now. We owe it to our school and our players. We can do better."
Buzbee didn't stop with Facebook, taking to Twitter to express his displeasure, too.
"Sumlin has got to go," he tweeted followed by the hashtag firesumlin.
The 53-year-old Sumlin has three years and $15 million left on his contract that runs through the 2019 season. He insists he spends no time thinking about his critics and said his only focus is on his team and helping it improve before hosting Nicholls State on Saturday night.
"I'm not in the business of really paying attention to anything outside of this program," he said. "And comments, whether they're good or bad, my focus is on what we can do to be better. I really don't have time to get involved in things that are said about the program or about me or whatever. I've just never been that kind of person."
The Aggies often talk about ignoring outside noise, but it's unlikely that they could be shielded from comments like those from Buzbee.
"You have to block it out when you're at this level," running back Trayveon Williams said. "But it hurts because that's your leader and that's your coach."
Sumlin was already on the hot seat entering this season after going 8-5 in each of the last three years after starting 5-0 each time. The nationally televised loss to UCLA certainly upped the pressure. Sumlin knows it's imperative that his team puts what happened behind them quickly so things don't snowball for the Aggies before they enter Southeastern Conference play on Sept. 23 against Arkansas.
"When you look at the whole picture, everybody's frustrated about what happened Sunday and nobody's more frustrated than me and upset about it than the players," Sumlin said. "But there are some things out of that that we can learn from and get better from and that's what today's about ... we've got 11 more games that are guaranteed and I think the key is not to let this situation create another situation this weekend."
The Aggies will move on without quarterback Nick Starkel and senior free safety Donavan Wilson. Both players had surgery to repair injuries suffered in the loss to UCLA.
True freshman Kellen Mond took over after Starkel was injured on Sunday, but Sumlin wouldn't say if Mond or Jake Hubenak will start on Saturday. He did say that he expects both of them to play as they try and sort out the situation in the next two non-conference games before meeting the Razorbacks.
The Aggies were off on Monday and as they return to practice on Tuesday Sumlin will try to help his team look forward and not wallow in the loss to UCLA.
"What happened happened and we've got to fix it," he said.
And regardless of what's being said about Sumlin outside of the team, it was clear on Tuesday that his players stood firmly on his side.
"Without a doubt. I would never want to play for another coach but coach Sumlin," Williams said. "He's a great man, great leader and I came here because of him. So I'm always going to support him and be behind him."