Hoover, Ala. -- "That's about the fourth time somebody's asked me that," Kevin Sumlin said about being asked if he realizes his schedule includes the teams that won the last six national champions. The new Texas A&M coach with a new quarterback and new conference and all sorts of newness going on, but declares his "realistic expectations are to win" despite the room's heavy air of provincial apprehension.
When asked about whether the spectacle of SEC Media Days compared to Conference USA's equivalent has made his arrival "real" for him, Sumlin said it was rather sitting with his 13 peer coaches for the first time. "To have your home opener at Texas A&M be a SEC game, it's a big deal," he said, talking up increased ticket sales and general interest around College Station.
He also says "damn" a lot. At least four times, I believe.
Sumlin said having a returning veteran at quarterback would make the whole thing feel a lot better, but noted the competition inherent in his ring of potential starting youngsters, with a starter being revealed "a couple weeks at the latest before the Louisiana Tech game." The newness might be a boon since it's a whole new system anyway, Sumlin claims. (That La Tech team, by the way, will be a full plate for the Aggies, Sumlin assures.) The good news is running back Christine Michael is ready to go.
On a potential Texas A&M-LSU end-of-year to-do taking the place of the Lone Star Showdown, the coach noted he's learned he has nothing to do with scheduling, but points out the Tigers would mean a border showdown with a recruiting edge at stake, and "hopefully that game becomes one of those games that people look forward to. You create your own rivalries, and they change, but just from the proximity standpoint, that would be an extremely important game and could replace a big-time rivalry game."
As for other SEC rivalries, Sumlin says he'd prefer to see the Arkansas series played on campus.
"We've been able to adapt things to utilize our personnel," he said regarding the SEC's alleged size and speed advantages. He defended Houston's run/pass ratio as not out of whack with his new league's preferred manball style, but added, "Being called pass-happy, that's fine with us." He lamented A&M's lack of depth up front to this point, noting that happens during the shift from a 3-4 to a 4-3.
His level of anxiety about his new opponents was a popular theme among those asking questions. "My assessment? It's a pretty damn hard league." If nerves are getting to Sumlin, he is not betraying them. I'd probably be afraid to make too much racket if I was a nerve of Kevin Sumlin's. But if A&M's getting this kind of treatment in Birmingham, Also:
Kevin Sumlin is asked: "Have you always been this cool and laid back?" Such hard-hitting journalism is what made this country great.