After another season where the Texas A&M Aggies started strongly then fell apart in November, Kevin Sumlin’s job is on the line to enter the 2017 season with many believing he only avoided being fired in December due to the large buyout of his contract. The figure is reported to be around $15 million but after 2017 it should be around $10 million which is still a lot but less prohibitive to move on from Sumlin as the head coach.
The annual collapse late in the season has worn out the patience of many Aggie fans. Sumlin’s record with Texas A&M in November is 11-9 which on the surface isn’t awful. But its worth nothing that Sumlin went 4-0 in his first year during the 11-2 season with Johnny Manziel at quarterback. Also in each of the four past seasons the Aggies have played either a weak group of five opponent like UL Monroe or an FCS team like Western Carolina which pads the win total. The late season struggles haven’t improved in recent years and clearly hint at a deeper problem within the team.
What does Sumlin need to do to save his job?
There is no finite number of wins that will guarantee that Kevin Sumlin will retain his job into the 2018 season. It seems many believe he needs to improve on the 8-5 record that he’s achieved in each of the last three seasons, all in a very similar manner. But there is certainly no guarantee that finishing the season 9-4 will be enough to placate the boosters and fans in College Station.
Aside from the win total, this team will be young in some key positions like quarterback and along the defensive line. If the team shows real promise and improves over the year then another season at around 8-9 wins could be palatable for the Aggies.
Can Sumlin realistically achieve that?
Unfortunately there are a lot of unknowns about the 2017 Texas A&M Aggies at this point. The biggest is obviously at quarterback with three potential options in Jake Hubenak, Nick Starkel and Kellen Mond. Whoever the starter is will have little experience of playing in the SEC so asking them to compete at a high level right away might be difficult. There will be some untested wide receivers alongside the excellent Christian Kirk.
The offense might lean more on the running game again with both Keith Ford and Trayveon Williams returning at running back with a strong interior offensive line. The defense will be more experienced and have more depth at a lot of positions but the loss of Myles Garrett and Daeshon Hall could be crucial.
The SEC, and the SEC West especially, are tough places for coaches not named Nick Saban. Alabama have dominated the division in recent years with Les Miles losing his job for not being able to compete. Head coaches like Gus Malzahn and Kevin Sumlin are now also feeling the pressure of not being able to overtake the Crimson Tide. This leaves very little margin for error for Sumlin in 2017 through a tough schedule.