It’s been a heck of a month for Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. There was Johnny Manziel’s Heisman Trophy win and the requisite black-tie tour that comes for a head coach with a Heisman-winning quarterback. Then Kliff Kingsbury left Aggieland to become the head coach at Texas Tech.
Now, with a game approaching Friday, it’s time to get back to business for the first time since Nov. 24. How has Sumlin handled everything that’s occurred in his program in the 40 days between games while also preparing the Aggies for a big-time bowl game?
“The time factor with us playing the 4th, I think has helped us with all the award things going on and gave us some time,” said Sumlin. “That four days past New Year’s has helped us just because we had so many guys running around all over the place in early December. I think how you manage that becomes important.”
Needless to say, playing in the New Mexico Bowl would have been a difficult turnaround for the Aggies.
Sumlin worked on Oklahoma staffs that coached the Sooners in the 2004 Sugar Bowl and 2005 Orange Bowl, both national championship losses played on Jan. 4 of their respective years. Friday’s Cotton Bowl isn’t for the national title, but it does fall on Jan. 4. That experienced has proven crucial for the Cotton Bowl.
“The players – which is something I learned when I was at Oklahoma – the later the game, if you do things too early, the players can get bored,” Sumlin explained. “You’ve got to keep them interested.”
Sumlin’s counterpart and former boss Bob Stoops has solved his own set of bowl season problems. After five straight January losses, Oklahoma has ended its last three seasons with victories.
In college football, piloting a long bowl layoff is a first-world problem, the consequence of a successful regular season. Luckily for Texas A&M, they have a pilot who has flown this route before.