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May 17, 2012

Sumlin takes different approach to hiring staff

They're "his guys".

They have "NFL ties".

Neither worked.

Successful college coaching staffs normally work closely together and have the ability to recruit at a high level. Texas A&M is on its third coach in a half-decade at least in part due to Dennis Franchione and Mike Sherman's inability to have both of those things happen at the same time.

Franchione placed a premium on personal loyalty above all else. He got it, but the Aggies in return got a number of coaches deemed by many to be average or below--both on and off the field. As a result, the team's below average performance ultimately affected recruiting and both failed to meet expectations.

One thing that was supposed to work in coach Sherman's favor when he came to A&M was his background as an NFL coach. He was going to be able to sell prospects on playing in a pro style system and developing them into NFL draft picks. Also, because he previously coached at A&M and had ties to people that played and coached at A&M, those guys would come back to A&M to help him out. As it turned out, it may have been his lack of college ties that ended up doing him in. He couldn't bring in guys he knew from his past jobs in the NFL nor could he lure in people with A&M ties. This led him to rely on others to bring in assistants. In conclusion, what he got was a mix of very different personalities and a group that had varied successes on the recruiting trail.

Kevin Sumlin's staff appears to be of a different makeup. He has assembled an offensive group he's familiar with, bringing most of his core coaches from the University of Houston and adding David Beaty, the former Kansas offensive coordinator who coached against Sumlin during his time at Rice, as wide receivers coach. The defensive staff was assembled from the top down by by defensive coordinator Mark Snyder. Working largely off of past history and the advice of coaches whose opinion he trusts, Sumlin's defensive staff and special teams coach come with strong reputations as both coaches and recruiters. In fact, Sumlin was able to do something Sherman couldn't in luring former A&M players Larry Jackson and Terry Price back to campus as coaches.

Will it pay off? That remains to be seen. But the difference in the approach to building a coaching staff is evident.

Now, a look back at the coaching staffs A&M has had since 2007:

Dennis Franchione's staff, 2007

Offensive Coordinator: Les Koenning (Previous position: Offensive coordinator, Alabama under Franchione; Top past job: Same)

Defensive Coordinator: Gary Darnell (Previous position: Out of football; Top past job: Head coach, Western Michigan 1997-2004)

Running backs coach: Kenith Pope (Previous position: Former wide receivers and assistant head coach at A&M, 2003-05; Top past job: assistant head coach and receivers coach at Alabama under Franchione)

Wide receivers coach: Bob DeBesse (Previous position: WR coach, Purdue; Top past job: Offensive coordinator, Minnesota, 1992-96)

Offensive line coach: Jim Bob Heldhuser (Previous Position: Offensive line coach, Alabama; Top past job: same)

Tight ends coach: Mark Tommerdahl (Previous position: Tight ends coach at Alabama; Top past job: Same)

Defensive line coach: Stan Eggen (Previous position: defensive line coach, Alabama; Top past job: same)

Linebackers coach: Bill Clay (Previous position: defensive coordinator, Oklahoma State; Top past job: Same)

Defensive backs coach: Van Malone (Previous position: Running backs coach, Arizona State; Top previous job: same)

Where were they in 2008?

Franchione: out of football (until 2011, when he took over at Texas State)
Darnell: out of football
Malone: Still at A&M
Pope: RB Coach, UNLV
Eggen: LB Coach, La. Tech (now DL coach)
Koenning: out of football (hired as Mississippi States offensive coordinator in 2009)
Clay: LB coach, Samford
DeBesse: Assistant coach, A&M Consolidated
Heldhuser: Assistant coach, Bryan High
Tommerdahl: TE coach, Louisiana-Monroe

Sherman's staff, 2008

OC: Nolan Cromwell (WR Coach, Seattle Seahawks; Top job: same)
DC: Joe Kines (DC, Alabama, 2006; Top job: Assistant head coach/defensive coordinator, Georgia, 1995-1999)
OL: Jim Turner (OL coach, Boston College; Top job: Same)
DB: Van Malone (A&M holdover)
DB: Charles McMillan (DB coach, TCU; Top job: Same)
RB: Randy Jordan (RB coach, Nebraska; Top job: Same)
DL: Buddy Wyatt (DL, Nebraska; top job: A&M DL coach, 2000-2002)
TE/ST: Kirk Doll (scout with the Denver Broncos, last in 2006; Top job: Assistant coach/LB coach LSU, 2002-2003)
QB: Tom Rossley (former Packers QB coach; Top job: Same)
Recruiting coordinator/Assistant AD: Tim Cassidy

Sherman's staff, 2011

DC: Tim DeRuyter (DC, Air Force; Top job: same)
RB: Jordan
WR: Troy Walters, (OC, Indiana State)
OL: Turner
DL: Terrell Williams (DL, Purdue; Top job: same)
QB: Rossley
DB: McMillan
ILB: Dat Nguyen (Cowboy special assistant; first coaching job)
OLB: Nick Toth (DB/special teams coach, The Citadel; Top job: DB coach, Ohio, 2004)

Where are they now?

Sherman: Offensive coordinator, Miami Dolphins
Rossley: Out of football
Turner: Offensive line coach, Miami Dolphins
Jordan: RB coach, North Carolina
Walters: Out of football
DeRuyter: Head coach, Fresno State
Williams: Defensive line coach, Oakland Raiders
Toth: Defensive coordinator, Fresno State
McMillan: Out of football
Nguyen: Out of football


Sumlin's staff, 2012

OC/QB: Kliff Kingsbury (Same, UH; Top job: same)
DC: Mark Snyder (Same, USF; Top job: head coach, Marshall, 2005-2009)
RB/Recruiting Coordinator: Clarence McKinney (same, UH; Top job: same)
OL: BJ Anderson (same, UH; Top job: same)
WR: David Beaty, (OC, KU; Top job: same)
DL: Terry Price (DL, Ole Missl Top job: Defensive ends coach, Auburn, 1999-2008)
LB: Mark Wallerstedt (DC, Air Force; Top job: same)
DB: Marcel Yates (CB, Boise State; Top job: same)
ST/TE: Brian Polian (same, Stanford; Top job: special teams coach, Notre Dame, 2008-2009)

Coaches on the current staff who have served as recruiting coordinators:

Wallerstedt
Polian
Beaty
Snyder
McKinney

Finally, it should be noted that although almost everyone will concede that Sherman's staff had superior pedigrees in comparison to Franchione's staff, both of their last staffs had three members who were not coaching at least at a minimum of the college level during the season following their release.


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