NORMAN — Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops’ coaching tree has grown many directions. The brightest branch belongs to Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin.
If it wasn’t obvious five years ago when Sumlin left his post as OU’s receivers coach/co-offensive coordinator to become head coach at Houston, it was when Sumlin led Texas A&M to a 10-2 mark in its first season in the SEC.
“He’s incredibly bright in everything that he does,” Stoops said of his former assistant. “Relates well with his players. Excellent recruiter. All the things you want. Kevin was great here, and he’s doing a great job there.”
“That’s my new agent right there,” Sumlin joked upon hearing his old boss’ raves.
Sumlin could have his choice of agents after this season. The turnaround he guided in College Station was one of the best coaching performances of 2012. It also came a year after he guided Houston to a 12-1 finish in his last season with the Cougars.
Sumlin revealed Wednesday that much of what he’s implemented during his five seasons as a head coach were learned during his time as a Sooner assistant from 2003-07.
“I was fortunate to come into a situation after the national championship, really compete for a couple more, be a part of some great, great teams with some great coaches, be involved in some great football games,” Sumlin said.
“I think the biggest thing that I got out of the experience in five years was the culture that Bob had created, the winning culture, how to do things … That’s not easy to do. That’s something that obviously changed, was brought back when he got there, and has continued … I’d say that’s probably the biggest thing that I got out of that five years.”
Stoops and Sumlin will meet as head coaching adversaries for the first time when No. 12 OU meets the No. 10 Aggies on Jan. 4 at the Cotton Bowl inside Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
If you’re hoping for some bad blood to build between the two over the next couple weeks, it’s unlikely to happen.
Stoops and Sumlinhave a relationship that goes all the way back to the 1990s when both were assistant coaches.
It made it a very easy hire when Stoops was looking for an offensive assistant following the 2002 season.
Sumlin had been elevated mid-season to coordinate R.C. Slocum’s Texas A&M offense, and did so with great success, even at OU’s expense, when the Aggies upset the No. 1 Sooners 30-26.
“Heck, Kevin and I used to run around South Florida together recruiting when he was at Purdue (and) I was at Kansas State. We were chasing the same kids all the time,” Stoops said. “But, again, I’ve known what a quality coach Kevin was before then. But at that time I liked the fact he was familiar with the conference, too.”
The Sooners went 54-13 and won three Big 12 championships during Sumlin’s time in Norman. He remembers those five years fondly.
“There’s a bunch of great wins, a bunch of great games. The Big 12 championship game in Kansas City against Nebraska (in 2006), that was a great moment. A lot of great wins,” Sumlin said. “I think the culture that he (Stoops) created, not only for the team, but … for our families, because our families, our wives are still close.
“It’s a complete family culture. As I said, it’s not just one single experience in five years; there’s a bunch of things that go into a great experience like I had at Oklahoma.”
John ShinnFollow me @firstname.lastname@example.org