Is Sumlin the better Texas A&M football coach?
Often in this discussion, the notion that the Johnny Football years shouldn’t count is brought up. I think that’s silly. Sumlin did not recruit Johnny Manziel, but he, along with Kliff Kingsbury, put him in a position to succeed that led him to nothing less than the Heisman Trophy. Without Sumlin’s innovative system, Johnny may never have broken out to the degree that he did—and therefore, the future of Texas A&M football in the SEC might have been quite different. Under Sumlin’s tutelage, too, the Aggies had their best finish in the SP+ rankings in recent memory (and it’s not close), and brought a number 1 unit in the country to College Station for the only time since the metric has been tracked, notching the top offense in 2013.
To his credit, too, Sumlin hired one of the premier coordinators in the nation to fix his defense when the problem became evident. John Chavis had been drawing up some of the nation’s premier units at LSU before Texas A&M football came calling, and he immediately made a difference. The Aggie defense jumped from 61st to 14th in defensive SP+ in Chavis’s first year. Sumlin also produced in the draft. He recruited and developed Myles Garrett—a 1-1—and Christian Kirk, two of the premier Aggies in the NFL today. Jimbo hasn’t done that.
Really, the record speaks for itself. Jimbo would have to go 8-2 in his next ten games to draw even with Sumlin record-wise, and that doesn’t necessarily seem to be in the cards. Sumlin made this program relevant in the move to the SEC—without his winning ways and premier players, Texas A&M football would have never been in a place to draw Jimbo Fisher or any of the recruits he’s brought in since.