Kevin Sumlin is moving from the SEC to the Pac-12.
The former Texas A&M coach will be the next coach at Arizona. Sumlin replaces Rich Rodriguez, who was fired earlier in January after an investigation into his conduct by school officials.
The school made Sumlin’s hire official Sunday night.
“This is a tremendous day for Arizona Football and I am thrilled to welcome Kevin to our family,” athletic director Dave Heeke said in a statement. “He is a proven winner who will have an immediate impact on not only our football program, but also on our department and University. An accomplished coach and an excellent recruiter, Kevin shares our vision and values and fits with who we are and who we want to be. His commitment to academics and to community service are a testament to his character. I have no doubt that Kevin will bring an exciting brand of football to Tucson and that championships will follow.”
Sumlin was fired from Texas A&M following the conclusion of the 2017 regular season. A&M moved quickly to find his replacement and hired Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher on a 10-year, $75 million fully guaranteed contract.
Sumlin was fired from Texas A&M after a string of 8-5 seasons. His team stormed out to a massive 44-10 lead against UCLA in Week 1 of the 2017 season and ended up losing the game 45-44. That immediately made Aggies fans and boosters unhappy and set the wheels in motion for the school and coach’s parting of ways at the end of the season.
And when we say immediately, we mean immediately. A Texas A&M regent called for Sumlin to be fired as soon as the UCLA game was over.
In May, Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward said Sumlin knew the Aggies needed to improve upon 8-5 records in each of the last three seasons. That public proclamation of “get better or we’re moving on” was extremely noteworthy. Very rarely does an athletic director put a number on what a coach has to do to keep his job.
That target felt — and ultimately was — unattainable in a competitive SEC West that includes Alabama, Auburn and LSU. Texas A&M ended the regular season 7-5 and finished the season 7-6 after a Belk Bowl loss to Wake Forest.
At Arizona, Sumlin inherits an offense that was explosive with quarterback Khalil Tate under center. Tate averaged 9.2 yards per carry as the Wildcats finished second in the Pac-12 South behind USC. The Wildcats return seven offensive starters and boast a defense that had five freshmen starters in 2017. And, on the upside for Sumlin, expectations shouldn’t be as delusionally sky-high as they were in College Station.
And he’s in a division that’s pretty wide-open, though it’s also going to be pretty tough too. UCLA hired former Oregon coach Chip Kelly and Utah is always formidable under coach Kyle Whittingham. Colorado is two seasons removed from a division title and everyone is anxious to see how Arizona State’s Herm Edwards experiment works out.
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