Dennis Dodd, CBS sports- “That sounds like something Joe Tiller would say, but were those kind of the exact words? Was it $19,000? And when did you realize that if a left tackle who broke up with his girlfriend whiffs on a block, as a coach, that could be your job”
"Sumlin – “As a graduate assistant – I was in private business, and then I became a graduate assistant, and Mike Price took a chance on me at Washington State, and Joe Tiller was there, talk about a rough room. Mike Zimmer – not the nice Mike Zimmer now, the mean Mike Zimmer back in the day that used to be D coordinator when he was 29, Joe Tiller, were kind of my guys. Joe got the job at Wyoming, and he couldn’t find anybody cheap enough or stupid enough at that time to go to Laramie from the convention for 18,000-some dollars. So I got there. I’ve known Joe Tiller since I was 18 years old, because at Purdue – it’s kind of a strange thing, at Purdue he was the defensive coordinator and I was a linebacker. So we got to Washington State, and he was the offensive coordinator. I said, How in the hell does that happen? So these questions all asked of me right now, right? He explained to me how that happens, so I moved to offense too. He said, If you learn what we’re doing here, with empty and no back, and he’d been in Canada and done all that, you’ll have a job forever. I said all right. That sounds good, if I want to do this. He got the job at Wyoming and hired me as a wide receiver coach. I’ve known him since I’m 18. I’m kind of his boy. You know how it is and the deal. And then one day he walks up to me in the middle of practice, and he’s just like furious. He said, If they don’t start catching the damn ball all the time, I’m going to fire your ass. I said all right. Immediately I had the same conversation with wide receivers. And the rest is history. We had couple All-Americans, Ryan Yarborough lead the country, and shortly after a couple guys that nobody ever heard of that were 1,000, 2,000 yard guys, and I moved on from there. By the way, I want to say something. Joe’s not doing real good right now. Just keep him in your prayers. He’s back up at his ranch. And he’s always been a great mentor to me. I just want to say publicly how much I appreciate what he’s done for me, not only as a player, but really give me a start as a full-time coach, and just keep him in your prayers."
Sad to hear about Sumlin’s old mentor, that he isn’t doing well. I know many Aggies will keep him in their thoughts as time moves on. I’m also glad to see that Coach Sumlin has kept this experience in his mind as he’s risen the coaching ranks. I hope he can have similar conversations with players and other subordinate coaches to inspire them to the same levels he’s achieved.