Editor's note: Bryant. Vaught. Jordan. Dooley. Neyland. These are just a handful of the coaches (among many others) who have come to define the Southeastern Conference due to their dynamic personalities and remarkable success on the field. But who are the top coaches roaming the sidelines of SEC schools today? Ryan Black gives his take, counting down from 14-1. Today, the series moves on to No. 7.
7. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
Record: 55-23 overall (35-17 in four seasons at Houston from 2008-11; 20-6 in past two seasons at Texas A&M; went 9-4 overall last year and 4-4 in SEC play)
National championships: 0
Never miss a local story.
SEC championships: 0
SEC division titles: 0
Don't worry about Sumlin. There is life after Johnny Manziel.
All one has to do is look into Sumlin's past. Everywhere he's been, his teams have always featured great offenses, regardless of what kind of quarterback he had at his disposal. When he was offensive coordinator at Oklahoma and the coach at Houston, Sumlin had more conventional, dropback passers. Manziel, as most know, was the polar opposite of that.
So don't focus on the quarterback battle between Kenny Hill and Kyle Allen; whoever wins the job will have a deep, experienced offensive line in front of him and numerous weapons in the backfield and at receiver.
When one turns to the defense, however, things get murky. The Aggies ranked last in the league in both total defense (475.8 yards per game) and scoring defense (32.2 ppg). They were quite a young unit last season and judging by its recruiting rankings, Texas A&M has brought in great talent defensively under Sumlin's watch.
Posting a 20-6 record in your first two seasons in the SEC is nothing to scoff at, especially when one takes into account that the Aggies joined a league that is rightly considered the best in the country. To take the next step — from just winning games to competing for division, conference and national championships — Texas A&M's defense will have to address some of its shortcomings.
Based on his track record, though, don't bet against Sumlin.