It took a little longer than expected, but Texas A&M finally announced that University of Houston football coach Kevin Sumlin will usher the Aggies into the first season of their Southeastern Conference existence.
Texas A&M announced the hiring of Sumlin on Saturday though it had been reported a week earlier that he would indeed be named to replace Mike Sherman at Houston.
"I am very excited about the opportunity to serve as the head football coach at Texas A&M University," said Sumlin, 47. "Having coached there before, I understand the culture and embrace the commitment by the 12th Man” — the fans — “regarding Aggie football. Aggieland is a special place and I look forward to working with the young men in the football program and recruiting the type of players we need to be successful in the SEC."
Sumlin, a fourth-year head coach at UH, had become a hot commodity this season as he led the Cougars (12-1) to an all-time best No. 6 BCS ranking and had them within a win of the program’s first BCS bowl berth. Sumlin’s name had come up for the Arizona State and UCLA jobs, but it was obvious the job he coveted was A&M.
"(We) spoke to many worthy and qualified candidates, but my decision, which was made in consultation with president (R. Bowen) Loftin, kept leading me to Kevin," athletic director Bill Byrne said. "I believe he is the right person to lead our football program into the Southeastern Conference. First of all, Kevin is a terrific person. He is also one heck of a recruiter and he will put together a great staff."
Sumlin, who was 35-17 in four seasons at UH, becomes the first African-American head football coach at Texas A&M, and he joins Kentucky’s Joker Phillips as the only two in the SEC. The Aggies are leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC beginning in the summer of 2012.
"The hiring of Kevin Sumlin is a great opportunity to build on the solid foundation left by Coach Sherman," said former Texas A&M linebacker Steve Solari, who played for the Aggies in the early 1990s. "Hiring the first African-American head football coach at A&M is a momentous occasion."
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