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Saturday, October 1, 2022

Commentary

Can’t blame the guy


In his four seasons patrolling the sidelines at Robertson Stadium, former head coach Kevin Sumlin led the Cougars to a 35-17 record, while doing something his predecessor Art Briles did not — win a bowl game. | File Photo/The Daily Cougar

In his four seasons patrolling the sidelines at Robertson Stadium, former head coach Kevin Sumlin led the Cougars to a 35-17 record, while doing something his predecessor Art Briles did not — win a bowl game. | File Photo/The Daily Cougar

Don’t be mad at Kevin Sumlin for leaving.

The former UH head coach traded in his signature red visor for a maroon one, and is now at the helm of Texas A&M’s football program.

UH is set to leave Conference USA for the Big East, and much-needed upgrades to the University’s athletic facilities are around the corner. Yet the progress he made with the Cougars was not enough to keep Sumlin for the long haul.

He jumped at the opportunity to lead the Aggies into their first season in the SEC and rightfully so.

Instead of planning for Rice or Marshall, Sumlin will compete in the premiere division in college football that features Alabama, LSU and several other powerhouse football schools.

Similarly, when former head coach Art Briles left UH for Baylor, fans took to The Daily Cougar’s Facebook page or other internet forums to release some scathing criticisms off their chests — most of which were irrational. Some people called him coach SCUMlin or replaced the ‘S’ in Sumlin with a dollar sign.

“The guy was already receiving about a million a year. I guess that wasn’t enough.”

“Where is your sense of loyalty? When you truly love the sport, a bigger contract, a fancier pedigree and whatever else you’re wooed with, shouldn’t matter. Go to your new home, learn your calls, and swap out your Cougar Red…I’d be embarrassed to shake your hand!”

Actually, a bigger contract and a fancier pedigree do matter. These critics need a better grasp on reality, and could use some growing up. Loyalty goes out the window when another organization makes an offer you can’t refuse.

If you’ve never been a millionaire, then you shouldn’t make assumptions about that lifestyle. Sumlin was making approximately $1 million per season at UH — Texas A&M upped the ante and signed him to a five-year contract worth $10 million. So if for some strange reason the Aggies decide to fire Sumlin tomorrow, he is guaranteed $10 million.

To put it in perspective, if a recently graduated college student makes $35,000 per year at their job, and received an offer to perform the same job responsibilities for $70,000 that person would be a fool to not take it. If a cashier at a fast food restaurant can make $16 an hour instead of $8 an hour, there would be no rightful reason to decline that chance.

If you have the means to increase the quality of life for yourself and your family, most people will take it, despite its inherent risks. For Sumlin, the move is certainly a gamble — he will face scrutiny in a hurry if he does not produce results in Aggieland.

The most devastating part about Sumlin’s departure is that he’s taking the majority of his staff at UH with him.

Co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Kliff Kingsbury, offensive line coach B.J. Anderson and running backs coach Clarence McKinney have left to join Sumlin.

Co-offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Jason Phillips is leaving to coach at SMU, and defensive coordinator Brian Stewart has also left the program to be the defensive coordinator at Maryland.

The current coaching staff is a shell of the previous group. But Tony Levine was undoubtedly the right choice to replace Sumlin as head coach. Sumlin and Levine became head coaches for the first time at UH, and it is Levine who is tasked with building a new, talented coaching staff.

Levine’s hiring illustrates how successful the Sumlin regime was. Director of Athletics Mack Rhoades conducted a national search for the replacement, and he found that the right candidate was in house. Levine will put his own unique stamp on UH football, but it is a continuation of what Sumlin, his mentor, had started.

So when you see Sumlin patrolling the Texas A&M sidelines next season, do not wish him ill-will. His leadership will be missed, but he is partly responsible for making UH relevant again. For the four years he spent at UH, his contributions were mutually beneficial to himself and the Cougars.

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