Originally posted on Fox Sports Houston  |  Last updated 12/2/11
If the University of Houston is about to lose another head football coach to a higher level the timing is perfect for Kevin Sumlin. The opening of the Texas A&M Aggies job may be the job that makes his departure for U-H more certain. The Aggies let Mike Sherman go after a 6-6 season that included at least four games that should not have been lost. The clincher to the end of the 25-25 four year Sherman run likely was the 27-25 loss to Texas in a game the Aggies lost another lead and had been the better team for most of the game. That it was the last game, for a few years at least, between the two massive schools located less than 100 miles apart made it worse. It was a wrenching loss for Aggie fans most notably those who were so incensed at Texas for starting their own TV network that they pushed for departure from the Big 12 and membership in the SEC. Had A&M finished 7-5, BUT had won the Texas gameeven with the other blown leadsSherman would likely have been safe. Maybe that one loss will be a big onein a positive sensefor the Aggies long term. It may work out well for UH's Sumlin, too. Sumlin immediately becomes a candidate to replace Sherman just 90 miles up the road in College Station. His Cougars are 12-0 and set to battle Southern Mississippi for the C-USA crown on Saturday. Also in the balancebesides the Aggie job perhapsis a slot in a big dollar BCS bowl game for the Cougars with a win. Southern Miss won't go to a BCS bowl if they upset the Cougars and kill their chances. They would be the league rep at the Liberty Bowl, but their coach, Larry Fedora, may be able to capitalize on a victory into a newer and bigger job himself. Some have reported he is a viable A&M candidate. If the Aggies elect to pursue Kevin Sumlin it would not put a hurting on their in-state recruiting. Sumlin spent time on the Oklahoma staff for years recruiting Texas before winning the Houston job. Recruiting Texas is crucial for the Ags. Yet, there are questions. The biggest question about Sumlin is his greatest player. When Case Keenum, a recruit of current Baylor and former UH coach Art Briles, missed last season with injury the Cougars fell under .500. Back for a final season, Keenum has not only wiped out all Cougar and national passing records but has led Houston to unprecedented heights. How good is Sumlin's coaching without Keenum? Until midway through this season his defenses have not been strong. Certainly the head coach doesn't handle the details of either offense or defense. But he hires the assistants that do and has over sight over both. If I sound like I am playing a devil's advocate a bit I am. Sherman's team failings are right there on the scoreboard. Sumlin's successes are a bit harder to fully judge when one looks very closely. There is no question Sumlin is a "hot" coach. The record shows that and what has been achieved at U-H under is leadership is on the record. It just takes further inspection than just 12-0 to make the call. Arizona State and North Carolina have been reported as other schools interested in Sumlin. They would pay more and be in BCS conferences. But the higher paycheck would be their only real advantages. Neither has been a power in their leagues in football. The Aggies are a sleeping giant (who have really been in more of a coma in football) waiting to show they deserve the support and loyalty their fans and alums have given them for years. As much as any job can be, Texas A&M would be a perfect fit for Kevin Sumlin and the school if he is determined to make a move up. Cougar fans will say, "What about us?", but they must realize their position in the college football world. They continue to be in a building mode until they secure a newly renovated and enlarged stadium and a home in a BCS league. (The Big East is coming, but can it hold onto its BCS status is a question.) Until then when they have success their coaches will always be sought by established programs. For Kevin Sumlin the biggest gamble for him is not choosing between Texas A&M and Arizona State or whomever. It would be to stay at U-H. He would have to win with a club that will be rebuilding in a number of positions and without Case Keenum. If he failed his chances of going "big time" may be gone or at best delayed. This happens in sports all the time. But don't fret for those who pass on the brass ring either. Most don't make the move for very human reasons. They like or even love the job where they are. Families don't want to relocate. The jump in salary does not rule their lives. We have many examples of that in sports, too. So if Sumlin for some reason does not leave Houston don't be critical. Maybe he likes it here. From this corner Texas A&M is the only job he should consider for the right reasons. It is still a sleeping giant no matter what conference it calls home.
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