Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M Staff Learned After Practice of Imminent Firing From Report

The Aggies head coach and his staff believed they had a chance to stay aboard following a strong finish to the season.
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The Texas A&M staff first learned of a report that head coach Kevin Sumlin will be fired—regardless of the outcome—following Saturday’s game at LSU after they came off the practice field Tuesday night. The Houston Chronicle’s report, citing multiple people with knowledge of the situation, had been online for more than an hour. One Aggies assistant coach told SI he found out about the report when he picked up his cellphone and saw that he had six messages, two from A&M recruits.

“It’s s----y for it to go down like this if what has been written (in the Chronicle’s report) is accurate,” the staffer said. “For our players to find out about it like this, that it doesn’t matter if we win Saturday night at LSU, it’s really s----y. It’s a huge distraction for them not to have their minds focused on the game. They’re probably saying WTF? Every one of them was recruited by Kevin Sumlin.

"We thought we still had a shot if we won the last three in a row and got to 8–4. It’d be a different 8–4 [than in the past], and we’ve had injuries at quarterback. Yeah, that loss at UCLA was tough, but our other three losses were against Top 15 teams."

Asked what he’ll tell the recruits (A&M has 18 commits and the nation’s No. 11 ranked class), the assistant said, “I’ll tell them what I’ve told them before. That we’ll know more after the [regular season finale] LSU game, and that there’s always gonna be speculation.”

Earlier in the day Tuesday, Sumlin said at his weekly press conference that he expects to be A&M's coach next season. "Why wouldn't I?" he said in response to a question from a Houston Chronicle reporter about his coaching prospects at A&M.

Sumlin is 51–25 in six seasons at A&M. In his debut season in 2012, he led the Aggies to their first Top 5 finish in over a half a century. Only Alabama, LSU and Georgia have won more games in that stretch in the SEC. The previous six seasons before he took over A&M was 42–34. However after three consecutive 8–5 seasons, A&M brass had grown frustrated. Athletic director Scott Woodward officially put his own head coach on the hot seat at last summer’s SEC meetings in Florida when he appeared on the SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum Show and said, "Coach Sumlin knows he has to win. He has to win this year. He has to do better than he has done in the past."

The A&M assistant coach said Tuesday’s Chronicle report was “par for the course from what [Woodward] said in the summer. That was bush league."