Texas A&M: Aggies excited — not intimidated — about SEC challenge

HOOVER, Ala. — Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin was first on the podium among the SEC coaches at SEC Football Media Days on Tuesday. The Aggies’ first-year coach was poised and well-spoken and said the word “excited” a lot, which was to be expected.

“This makes it real,” Sumlin said to a ballroom packed with media. “What first made it real for me is when we had our first head coaches meeting back in March. When you closed that door behind you, you knew it was real then. But walking into this room and seeing the number of people in this room, you know the kind of league you’re in. It’s a different size and scope for football.”

Sumlin, who turns 48 on Aug. 3, has enjoyed a rapid rise through the head-coaching ranks. He comes to A&M from Houston, where he coached for four seasons. That was his first head coaching job and he led the Cougars to a 35-17 record and three bowl games. They were 13-1 this past season, narrowly missing a BCS bowl only because of a 49-28 loss to Southern Miss in the Conference USA championship game. His Houston team beat Penn State 30-14 in the TicketCity Bowl, but Sumlin had already left for College Station by then.

Before Houston, Sumlin had held assistant’s jobs at Oklahoma (offensive coordinator) and Texas A&M (assistant head coach/receivers), Purdue, Minnesota, Wyoming and Washington State. He played linebacker at Purdue.

Since taking over as the Aggies’ coach on Dec. 10, all Sumlin has heard is how tough the SEC is going to be. Even LSU coach Les Miles sent out a public warning, saying Texas A&M and Missouri “better strap it up. They’re going to really not enjoy their welcoming to this conference.”

Sumlin is not discounting such advice.

“I didn’t see that as derogatory,” Sumlin said. “That’s a fair statement. I think he says that to about everybody he plays, doesn’t he?”

Sumlin pointed out that he gets the honor of playing the last six national champions in his first season as an SEC head coach. But he went on to say he’s not shocked or overwhelmed by the task at hand for the Aggies. He knew what he was getting into.

“My realistic expectations are to win,” Sunlin said. “Everybody talks to me like I didn’t know what I was getting into. I knew we were heading to the SEC when I took the job. I also knew what A&M had to offer and what the program is capable of. . . . We know we have to play a lot of Top 10 football teams. We’ve got a lot of work to do. We know that. But we need to worry about ourselves first. We have a lot of other things we have to fix first before we start thinking about our SEC schedule.”

A&M’s players are definitely ready for the challenge.

“The whole team is excited,” senior linebacker Sean Porter said. “We feel like we’re competitors. My team loves to compete and this league has some of the best players in the country. So we want to be able to gauge ourselves against those guys and compare ourselves to those guys and be on the field with them at the same time. I want to go against the best tackles in the country, the best quarterbacks, the best running backs. That’s what we were looking forward to about the SEC. Now we’re a part of it.”

The Aggies return 14 starters — including eight on offense — from a team that finished 7-6 last season. Sumlin’s primary task will be in identifying a starting quarterback. He said the plan is to determine that with no less than two weeks remaining in the regular season.

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29 comments Add your comment

WDE

July 17th, 2012
3:54 pm

Some does not like the Aggies have you seen their schedule …Welcome to the SEC !

WDE

July 17th, 2012
3:55 pm

That should have read someone does not like the Aggies..

I dropped my fried Twinkie

July 17th, 2012
3:58 pm

HAHAHA Texas A&M will feast on the EAST but not the West.

Macclenny_dawg

July 17th, 2012
3:59 pm

I am an idiot

July 17th, 2012
4:01 pm

I CAPITALIZE every LETTER of EVERY WORD I type for EMPHASIS. I ALSO HAVE NINETEEN different Blog NAMES.

GT-is better than Clarke County C0-op

July 17th, 2012
4:11 pm

They have about as much in common with Athens as would grass and rocks. aTm is a prestigious AAU institution, and Clarke County is little better than a co-0p.

PTC DAWG

July 17th, 2012
4:18 pm

I guess not many of our GT guests know that without UGA students starting GT, they wouldn’t even be around.

That said, welcome A&M.

ROCK STEADY FREDDY

July 17th, 2012
4:18 pm

EVERYONE HEARD ABOUT THE AUBURN KILLINGS AND ALABAMA SHOOTINGS? WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THOSE NUT CASES OVER THERE? RECRUITS BEWARE OF GOING TO SCHOOL IN ALURBAMMUR!!!!! PARENTS OF RECRUITS; BEWARE OF LETTING YOUR SON PLAY FOOTBALL OVER THERE. THE MONEY ISN’T WORTH IT!!

Butter Bean Floyd

July 17th, 2012
4:19 pm

Aggies sure aint worried about Richt and Boo Boo .

Butter Bean Floyd

July 17th, 2012
4:22 pm

Connor Shaw will outshine Murray…Book it!

David C

July 17th, 2012
4:24 pm

With New coaches and New Conference I expect Texas A & M to go 6-6, but looking at recruiting they are on fire. In a couple years I expect them to be competing at the highest level. I expect Missouri to be the sleeper team of the conference. Going 9-3 with outside shot at winning the east.

GTBob

July 17th, 2012
4:27 pm

I guess not many of our GT guests know that without UGA students starting GT, they wouldn’t even be around.

If UGA was so great then why did some of their students feel the need to start a different university?

GTBob

July 17th, 2012
4:32 pm

As for A&M, I would be surprised if they have a winning season in the next 3 years. They haven’t been very good recently and they moved to the tough part of the SEC. Its going to get ugly.

Ray

July 17th, 2012
4:36 pm

This is going to be fun.

Texas A&M right now might be as good as Kentucky(football), but by year 3 it might be a bit different. That’s no knock on them just being realistic I think most TAMU fans realize that as well.

Now Missouri is another story some of you guys think Mizzou will get steamrolled best wake up now I’m a UGA fan, but that is the game that has me scared most along with South Carolina.

2005DawgAlum

July 17th, 2012
4:49 pm

Missouri will come out strong because they are jacked up, but UGA will slaughter them. UGA’s strength is defense (even with suspensions) and look for Murray to hook up with Conley numerous times.

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