The public damage from Texas A&M’s stunning loss to UCLA on Sunday night was compounded shortly after, when regent Tony Buzbee ranted on Facebook that he wanted Sumlin out as the Aggies’ head coach.
“I’m only one vote on the Board of Regents but when the time comes my vote will be that Kevin Sumlin needs to GO,” Buzbee wrote. “In my view he should go now. We owe it to our school and our players. We can do better.”
— Justin 🤠 (@IDontRentPigs) September 4, 2017
Buzbee’s post inspired a response from someone who’s been in Sumlin’s very shoes not too long ago: Gene Chizik.
Chizik answered Buzbee’s rant with — fitting for these times we live in — a post on Instagram.
“Nobody knows the expectations at Texas A&M more than Kevin Sumlin. He doesn’t need to check Facebook to know they didn’t get the job done,” Chizik wrote. “It’s unfortunate that an A&M Board of Regents member would act as irresponsibly as he did airing his personal grievances publicly on his Facebook page, even discussing other past issues in the program.
“The appropriate thing would have been to call Coach Sumlin and have a discussion or handle through the proper channels as a leader. I know it’s frustrating for fans and other Regents. But the knee-jerk reaction of one Regent on social media represents them all. It’s immature, unprofessional and unfortunate.”
Chizik’s suggestions are mostly reasoned and make sense on first blush, except for one part: Chizik truly wants Buzbee to call Sumlin? How is that conversation going to go?
“Hey Coach, you should have run the ball more against UCLA. Also, I’d like to fire you if I could.”
“Uh, thanks. I’ll try to win next time.”
By taking Chizik’s advice, Buzbee would take an already emotional, volatile situation and light it on fire.
Still, Buzbee’s comment hurts Texas A&M on two fronts.
In the immediate term, it shines a big, Gotham City-style spotlight right on Sumlin for the rest of the season. With each subsequent Aggies loss the immediate response is going to be “What’s Tony Buzbee think? What’s his Facebook say?” Buzbee has undermined the sovereignty of the program by placing the focus on the Board of Regents.
And if Buzbee does get his way and Sumlin is eventually ousted his post still hurts A&M in the long run. If and when AD Scott Woodward goes to find the next Aggies coach he’ll have to fight through the self-inflicted negative perception coaches may have of A&M’s internal culture. “Do I really want to go to a school where a regent will call me out publicly after a loss?”
I’m sure Buzbee’s post got a lot of likes, though. Hope it was worth it.