Sumlin took over for the Aggies in 2012 after a four-year tenure with Houston, where he posted a 35-17 record, going an impressive 12-1 in his final campaign with the Cougars. He continued his success from Houston in his first season in College Station, with the Aggies finishing the year with an 11-2 record and a victory in the Cotton Bowl. Not only did Sumlin finish with great team success, but he also developed Johnny Manziel into Texas A&M’s second Heisman Trophy winner, presenting college football with one of the most electrifying players the game has ever seen.
The issue Kevin Sumlin faced after his first season is that he set the bar too high for himself. Sumlin outdid what everyone thought he was going to do in his first year by a longshot. He started his time with Texas A&M the same year that the Aggies were to begin their inaugural season in the SEC, arguably the toughest conference in all of football. A&M was coming into the SEC with an unproven, untested redshirt freshman starting at quarterback and a less than stellar track record, having only won two bowl games between 2000-2011. The Aggies were poised for a below average season, yet the dynamic duo of Sumlin and Manziel shocked the nation and had one of the most memorable seasons in Texas A&M history.
In Sumlin’s second run with the Aggies the team ended up falling short of expectations. With the return of Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans, Aggieland thought it was poised for a championship run, but in the end Sumlin posted a 9-4 record with a victory in the Chik-fil-A Bowl. This was a solid, yet still disappointing season for a team with such a star-studded roster. Nevertheless, Sumlin was still off to a hot start at Texas A&M, posting a 20-6 record along with two impressive bowl wins in his first two seasons.
The next three years of Sumlin’s career with A&M, however, can be described as a continuous disappointment. He hasn’t necessarily had a bad season, but the expectations have been so great and his performance has been so average that he’s been consistently letting down the Aggieland hopefuls. In each season since 2014 the Aggies have posted an 8-5 record, with a .500 or below record in SEC play. The Aggies have made a bowl game in each of the five seasons Sumlin has been with them, but have lost the past two in 2015 and 2016, which does not bode well for Sumlin’s case to stay at A&M. Ever since Manziel and Evans left for the NFL draft after the 2013 season, Sumlin can’t seem to come up with the magic that he had in those first two seasons. He always gets A&M fans outrageously excited for the season and how well the Aggies are going to do by starting off the year 5-0 and getting a Top 10 ranking, but once SEC play starts, everything falls apart. Every. Single. Year. He starts the year 5-0, yet finishes 8-5 and gets a subpar bowl.
Kevin Sumlin’s job security has been decreasing every year since 2014 and this upcoming season is his last chance at redemption. He’ll have been feeling the pressure now for three years due to his steady decline in performance and his consistent spirit-dashing finishes he’s had the past three seasons. If Sumlin doesn’t win at least 9 games this season, clinch key SEC victories, and close out a quality bowl win, then there’s no way we see him back in College Station next fall.