Sumlin gears up for opening
Head football coach Kevin Sumlin has only been in Houston for a few months, but his team is already preparing to complete spring training with the annual Red-White game Saturday.
For Sumlin, change is nothing new. Sumlin has coached at Oklahoma, Texas A’M, Purdue, Minnesota and Wyoming and moved multiple times during his childhood.
"(I was) born in Alabama in a little town about eight miles north of the Florida line, grew up in Indianapolis and for the last 10 (or) 15 years I’ve been recruiting (in) South Texas," Sumlin said.
Sumlin’s father, a high school assistant principal, coached football and basketball, but Sumlin did not plan to follow in his footsteps. Although he played football as a linebacker at Purdue, he earned degrees in criminology and sociology and said he probably would have gone to law school if he hadn’t begun coaching as a graduate assistant at Washington State.
"I went to grad school at Indiana University. Coaching actually paid for grad school," Sumlin said.
Although his life has not always turned out exactly as expected and is constantly shifting, Sumlin actually likes that aspect of college football.
"(Change is) always hard, but it’s a part of it. The great thing about college football, no matter what anybody thinks, is each team every year is different. There’s always guys graduating and there’s always guys coming in. College football coaches are used to change."
Sumlin and his coaching staff are becoming familiar with the athletes and adjusting to the Cougars’ system and playing style.
"This time of year, we’re finding out who they are and they’re figuring out who we are. More than anything else, it’s learning the tempo we want to practice here and the drills, and we’re learning that too. It’s really a two-way street now. I think we’ve been pleased as coaches at the tempo they’ve gone."
Sumlin sees student attendance at the games as a big factor in making his first season at UH a success, and he is working to make sure the games are something students want to attend.
"Everybody says ‘What about the attendance?’ and everything. I think it depends on the students. People support a winner and it’s got to be fun. I think the more students are there the more lively it’ll be. I think it’ll be an event, not just a game."
Fans can get their first look at Sumlin’s team at noon Saturday at the Red-White game at Robertson Stadium as part of Cougar Fest 2008. Admission to the game and an autograph session featuring Sumlin and the players following the game are free and open to the public.