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November 30, 2013

A&M does what it needs to in keeping Sumlin

Texas A&M's press release this afternoon that head coach Kevin Sumlin reached agreement on a new six year contract means a number of things for the Aggies' program and all of them are positive.

First, Sumlin himself said in this week's press conference that the team was not distracted by all of the talk of his name coming up for jobs. We also understand that the players themselves did not think that he was leaving and usually players have a pretty good vibe about that sort of thing. Nonetheless, negotiating a contract is always a pretty stressful proposition and even though lawyers and agents handle most of the details, coaches have to have some input during the process, especially when they are playing hardball with their demands. Now, Sumlin is totally 100% free to coach and recruit again with out any such distractions that the negotiations may have been (no matter how small they are made out to be).

Second, other programs were beginning to use rumors of Sumlin leaving to recruit against A&M and this would reached a crescendo in the coming weeks as college coaches began to visit high schools and talk to prospects personally, especially those committed to A&M. Although they might be able to use the Houston Texans' opening in a similar manner, when a winning coach tells a prospect that he just got a six year contract to stay around and see them graduate, that's going to resonate strongly with both them and their parents.

Third, although everyone will focus on the terms of the contract as they pertain to Sumlin, you know that Sumlin got additional concessions on the part of the administration to stay and the most important part probably has to do with assistants' salaries. It's going to be easier for Sumlin to offer stability to current and potential assistants via the length of the contract. Most importantly, it will be easier to retain assistants or hire top notch replacements with higher salaries and thus maintain a highly qualified staff.

Finally, from a perception standpoint, it sends the message to the outside world that A&M is committed to winning at the highest levels. A&M has been competitive in the past at times from a money standpoint but not always. Now, there's no question that A&M is willing to do what it takes to retain a very good coach and reinforces my belief that it's a destination job and not a stepping stone to other locations, especially when you combine the length of the contract with A&M's location in one of the better locations for recruiting in the country as well as its membership in the country's best conference.

All in all, it's a win/win for A&M and for a head coach that was under pressure to win right away, did so, helped produce a Heisman Trophy winner as a bonus, and then has proceeded to put together some of the best recruiting classes in the country. Life just got tougher for A&M's regional competitors who were hoping that Sumlin would somehow go away and yet will continue to be faced with facing one of the better recruiting head coaches in the country for years to come.

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