By Zac Ellis
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin impressed more than a few onlookers after leading the Aggies to an 11-2 record during his debut season at the helm in 2012. Apparently, that line of thinking extended as far as the NFL. Sumlin told the San Antonio Express-News that he's already had several opportunities to make the jump to the pros -- perhaps even as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
"I don't have to say anything," Sumlin said in response to his name being associated with future pro jobs. "Everybody knows what I do (now). I've never coached in the NFL. I've had plenty of opportunities to do that, both as an assistant coach and even as a head coach. But there's a reason I coach college football, and we've got a lot of work to do here. We're still playing catch-up, and we finished third in the SEC West last year (behind Alabama and LSU). By no means have we arrived."
TexAgs.com co-owner and A&M insider Billy Liucci told the Express-News that the Eagles offered Sumlin their head-coaching job before finally reaching a deal with former Oregon coach Chip Kelly. Auburn also reportedly sought Sumlin for its then-vacant coaching position before ultimately bringing back Gus Malzahn.
The interest in Sumlin shouldn't come as surprise; his Aggies surprised the nation with their first-year success in the SEC, which included a 29-24 upset of eventual BCS champion Alabama. A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first freshman in college football history to capture the Heisman Trophy, and the school finished in the top five of the AP Poll for the first time in 56 years.
Now, just one year after rival coaches criticized Sumlin on the recruiting trail, they're pointing to his success as a negative.
"A year later, the recruiting pitch out there right now against us is, 'You can't play there, they've got good players. And their coach is going to the NFL.' I think it's funny either way."
Sumlin, 48, won't rule out an eventual move to the NFL. And if Texas A&M keeps winning, the offers should keep on coming. Particularly on the heels of this offseason's $1.1 million raise and extension, however, he doesn't envision himself leaving College Station any time in the immediate future.
"Maybe later — some time later. But it won't be anytime soon. My family likes living here and I like living here. Heck, we just got here. People ask me to respond to the (NFL talk), and I say, 'You've got to be kidding me.' Because I remember what was being said at this time a year ago."