Arizona Football

Kevin Sumlin: ‘We will win championships’ at Arizona

Kevin Sumlin (YouTube screenshot)

Arizona football fans will get their first look at new coach Kevin Sumlin at his introductory press conference on Tuesday at 10 a.m.

The university officially announced his hiring Sunday night after multiple reports earlier in the day that he had agreed to a deal.

“I am humbled and honored to join the Arizona Family,” Sumlin said in a statement.

“With a strong foundation already in place, we will work quickly to assemble an elite coaching staff and immediately begin the work of establishing our culture, recruiting future Wildcats, and connecting with Wildcats past and present. We will win championships. We will graduate our players and they will contribute to the University in many ways while they are here. We will represent Arizona with class and pride. I want to thank President Robbins and Dave Heeke for the opportunity to be a part of something special and I cannot wait to get started.”

GIMINO: Sumlin always made the most sense for Arizona

Sumlin has a career record of 86-43, with four years at Houston and six years at Texas A&M. He was fired after last season after going 51-26 with the Aggies. That wasn’t good enough in College Station, where the university recently invested about $500 million to renovate Kyle Field and was hoping to compete better in the SEC West.

The terms of Sumlin’s contract will be available at the Tuesday press conference.

“This is a tremendous day for Arizona Football and I am thrilled to welcome Kevin to our family,” said Heeke.

“He is a proven winner who will have an immediate impact on not only our football program, but also on our department and University. An accomplished coach and an excellent recruiter, Kevin shares our vision and values and fits with who we are and who we want to be. His commitment to academics and to community service are a testament to his character. I have no doubt that Kevin will bring an exciting brand of football to Tucson and that championships will follow.”

From the UA press release:

Despite his defensive background as a linebacker at Purdue in the mid-1980s, it’s been his offenses that have been his calling card as a head coach. In Sumlin’s six seasons in the SEC, his offenses led the conference in passing, scoring and total offense twice. His 2012 edition became the first to break the 7,000-yard plateau in total offense with 7,261 yards, and his 2013 unit was just a yard shy of the milestone. Texas A&M owns SEC season records for passing yards (4,593 in 2013), total yards and average total offense (7,261/558.5 in 2012) and first downs (357 in 2013).

In his 10 seasons as a head coach, Sumlin’s offenses have averaged more than 400 yards of total offense every season, including more than 500 yards five times. His teams have scored more than 500 points five times, including an incredible 690 points in 2011.

Sumlin’s record against non-conference teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 was a perfect 5-0 (wins over No. 22 Louisiana Tech and No. 11 Oklahoma in 2012, No. 22 Duke in 2013, No. 15 Arizona State in 2015 and No. 16 UCLA in 2016). His Aggies defeated at least one AP Top 25 opponent away from Kyle Field in each of his first five seasons, and his 12 victories over Top 25 teams rank among the most in college football.

Among those wins over ranked opponents were three road victories over teams ranked in the top 10 of the AP Poll — 29-24 over No. 1 Alabama in 2012, 52-29 over No. 9 South Carolina in the 2014 season-opener and 41-38 over No. 3 Auburn in 2014. Sumlin is the only Aggie head coach to post more than two AP top 10 road wins.

The Aggies’ success on the field coincided with the team’s continued upward trend in the classroom. The Texas A&M football team’s 2013-14 multi-year Academic Progress Rate of 974 was an all-time high for the school, and the 2014-15 APR was 967. The Aggies also finished the 2015-16 school year with an overall team GPA above 2.70 and had more than 30 players named to the Athletics Director Honor Roll (requires a 3.0 GPA or higher) both semesters.

Sumlin was hired at Texas A&M after a successful stint as head coach at the University of Houston. His final Cougar squad set a school record with 13 victories (12 prior to Sumlin’s departure to Texas A&M) in 2011 and notched the program’s highest finish in the Bowl Championship Series standings. He was named the Region 5 Coach of the Year by the American Football Coaches Association that year and was one of five finalists for the AFCA’s National Coach of the Year award. Sumlin guided the Cougars to berths in the 2011 Ticket Center Bowl and the 2008 and 2009 Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowls.

His final season in Houston was one of the finest in the history of the Cougar football program. Sumlin’s Cougars raced through the regular season with a perfect 12-0 record before falling in the Conference-USA Championship to Southern Miss. The Cougars led the nation in passing, total and scoring offense and featured the nation’s leader in passing and total offense, quarterback Case Keenum. UH set NCAA FBS team records for total offense and passing yards.

His lone team to not reach a bowl was in 2010. Houston entered the season with high expectations but injuries to their top two quarterbacks, including Keenum, contributed to a 5-7 campaign.

In 2009, Sumlin was a finalist for the Paul “Bear” Bryant National Coach of the Year Award after leading the Cougars to a 10-4 record, which included wins over No. 5 Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., and BCS conference teams Texas Tech and Mississippi State. Statistically, UH led the nation in passing (433.7), total (563.4) and scoring offense (42.2). Houston also became just the third team in NCAA history to post a 5,000-yard passer and three 1,000-yard receivers in one season.

Taking over the reins of the UH program in December 2007, Sumlin guided the Cougars to an 8-5 record in 2008 and became the first UH coach in 28 years to lead his team to a bowl victory, as Houston topped Air Force 34-28 in the Armed Forces Bowl. He was one of only 10 first-year Football Bowl Subdivision coaches to guide his team to a bowl game and one of only six to win the bowl contest.

Sumlin went to Houston after seven seasons as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator in the Big 12. He spent five seasons at the University of Oklahoma under head coach Bob Stoops, where he served as both the co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach (2006-07) and special teams coordinator/tight ends coach (2003-05).

Before his arrival in Norman, Sumlin spent two seasons at Texas A&M under head coach R.C. Slocum, where he served as the assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach for the Aggies (2001-2002).

During his previous stint in Aggieland, Sumlin coached several of the top receivers in school history, including Bethel Johnson, Terrence Murphy and Jamaar Taylor, who still rank in the top 10 in career catches and receiving yards.

Early in the 2002 season, Slocum promoted Sumlin to offensive play caller after the Aggie offense struggled in the first three games of the season. With Sumlin calling the plays, the Aggie offense flourished, averaging 33.0 points and 419 yards per game for the remainder of the season after posting just 16.0 points and 286 yards per game previously. A highlight of the season included a 30-26 win over top-ranked Oklahoma with the Aggies gaining 404 total yards to key the victory.

Sumlin’s coaching career has also seen stops at his alma mater Purdue (1998-2001), Minnesota (1993-97) and Wyoming (1991-92).

Purdue’s 1998 receivers set school records with 377 receptions for 4,208 yards and 43 touchdowns. The Boilermakers’ Chris Daniels set a Big Ten record with 121 catches and recorded another Big Ten record with 21 receptions in one game.

In addition to Stoops and Slocum, Sumlin served as an assistant coach under Joe Tiller at Purdue and Wyoming, Jim Wacker at Minnesota, Glen Mason at Minnesota and Mike Price at Washington State.

Sumlin has coached in 16 bowl games, including all four traditional New Year’s Day games.

A four-year letterman as a linebacker at Purdue from 1983-86, Sumlin finished his career as one of the top tacklers in Boilermaker history. He was named to Sports Illustrated’s All-America walk-on list as a freshman after leading Purdue with 91 tackles.

He earned honorable mention All-Big Ten honors as a senior, while ranking fifth in the league with 114 tackles, and helped lead Purdue to the Peach Bowl.

The Indianapolis native graduated from Purdue in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in both criminology and criminal justice. Sumlin has four children: daughters Courtney and Shelby, and sons Jackson and Joey.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
To Top