Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin faced a long offseason of “hot seat” discussion after yet another disappointing season. However, the Aggies appeared poised to put that buzz to bed with haste during the team’s season opener on the road against UCLA, and that motivation came together in the form of a 38-10 halftime lead in the Rose Bowl.
From there, Texas A&M tacked on back-to-back field goals and, with 4:08 remaining in the third quarter, college football fans everywhere were earnestly flipping over to what appeared to be a more competitive game between West Virginia and Virginia Tech. Then, the unthinkable began to take place.
UCLA, behind star quarterback Josh Rosen, began to chip away at the seemingly unsurmountable lead. While it seemed harmless at first, things started to get weird when a Texas A&M defensive back saw a deep ball from Rosen slide directly through his arms and into the waiting cradle of a UCLA wide receiver for a touchdown.
That brought the Bruins within 13 and, seemingly seconds later, Rosen pulled off the equivalent of a trick play in faking a spike to deliver the trident through the hearts of A&M fans everywhere. Yes, it came in the form of a game-winning touchdown that capped a run of 35 unanswered points.
While that play did not clinch victory for the home team, Texas A&M’s bid for a comeback score went begging in forgettable fashion. In the equivalent of a football instant, the Aggies’ head coach went from incredibly safe to incredibly rocky in terms of his position.
Is Kevin Sumlin going to be fired immediately? Probably not. The Aggies still have a lot of football to play in 2017 and, given the way they poured it on against a talented team in the first three quarters, the talent exists to make a real run in the SEC this season.
With that as the backdrop, though, Sumlin’s job status could be even more tenuous. Because of just how tantalizing the team looked in the early going, it becomes almost easier to criticize the coach.
“If the team can play like that, why don’t they do it all the time?”
The answer, of course, is that no college football team plays at maximum capacity at all times. Not even the team clad in crimson from Tuscaloosa. Still, the “night and day” change between portions of this very visible meltdown will do nothing to assuage doubters of Sumlin and will provide very little background for those supporting the embattled head coach.
Kevin Sumlin became an extremely hot name in the profession during his quick ascent and the outset of his tenure in College Station provided quite a bit of optimism. On Sunday night in Los Angeles, though, the disastrous loss suffered by his team went a long way toward upping the pressure and, potentially, spelling out his downfall as the head coach at Texas A&M.