Exclusive: Kevin Sumlin lobbied hard for USC job

December 1, 2013 – 4:14 pm by Ryan Phillips

Kevin Sumlin

On Saturday it was announced that Kevin Sumlin had signed a six-year extension to remain the head football coach at Texas A&M for the foreseeable future, sending a clear signal that he wanted to stay in College Station for the long haul. But Rumors and Rants has learned exclusively from sources at USC that Sumlin had been lobbying hard for the vacant head coaching position at the school for the better part of two months.

As soon as Lane Kiffin was fired in late September, Sumlin’s representatives were contacted and told their client was on a list of potential candidates to be his replacement. Sumlin then sent word through back-channels that he wanted the job and his wife in particular was excited about the prospect of moving to Los Angeles.

Originally Sumlin’s representatives sent the message to USC athletic director Pat Haden (again, through back-channels, which is how this stuff happens) that their client would only take the job if he was the only target. He did not want to risk looking like he was aiming for the job, then lose out to someone else. That would have made for an awkward situation at Texas A&M and would have made recruiting far more difficult.

USC made it clear to Sumlin and his people that he was on a list of about five candidates (the targets shifted over time based on how this season has played out and interviews conducted) and that he would not have the chance to separate himself until he interviewed for the position. Sumlin was hesitant to interview during the season because he was worried someone might find out or it might leak to the press. So the two sides agreed to meet in a neutral location (not College Station or Los Angeles) the Sunday after the regular season was over.

The USC delegation was scheduled to fly to a pre-determined neutral location to interview Sumlin on December 1 (today), but would also be meeting with two other candidates on the same day. We have been told repeatedly by USC sources and have had it confirmed over and over again throughout the coaching search Sumlin was not the favorite for the job because no favorite has emerged. Haden has insisted on interviewing all the candidates before deciding on a leader or a top target. Any reports to the contrary are completely false.

For the two months leading up to this past week, Sumlin’s representatives were in near constant contact with USC, continually letting Haden’s people know that he wanted the job. He felt quarterback Johnny Manziel was set to jump to the NFL and he was not looking forward to a rebuild next season. He wanted a new challenge and thought the path to a national championship would be easier at USC.

As the season progressed and the people at USC started digging into Sumlin’s background, his coaching philosophy, etc., some began to sour on him as a top option. That’s not to say he wasn’t still a target, but he had fallen down a few notches in some eyes. His team’s 8-4 record and scoring defense (84th in the nation at 30.9 points per game) also worked against him. Still, they were intrigued because he was pushing so hard for the job.

Then in the middle of last week Sumlin’s representatives contacted USC, canceled their December 1 meeting and asked that his name be taken off the list of candidates. He had decided to remain at Texas A&M and was set to sign an extension. Most people at USC expected that would be the eventual outcome all along, especially as the season went on and some of the higher-ups began to sour on him.

USC currently has a list of about four candidates (we promised our sources we wouldn’t divulge names), though it’s not hard to figure out who they are if you have been following the school’s coaching search.

Any reports that Sumlin turned down an offer from USC are completely false. The school never offered anything and never had him as the “favorite” as some have reported. As stated before, Haden has insisted on interviewing all candidates before offering anything to anyone. Sumlin never interviewed and was never offered the job, either through back-channels or outright.

As with all of USC’s potential candidates, parameters of what the school would be offering its head coach were discussed, but that’s normal in any coaching search and there was nothing different about how things were discussed with Sumlin.

The fact is that until last week, Sumlin was pushing incredibly hard to get the job, then had a change of heart and decided to stay at Texas A&M. Those in Aggieland will tell you he simply loves it there, while those at USC will tell you he didn’t want to chance losing out in the race to become the coach of the Trojans. The real truth likely lies in the middle.

From our perspective he decided to stay where he’s comfortable and take the bird in the hand, rather than risk going out on a limb and not getting the USC job.

UPDATE: Sources close to the Texas A&M football program have confirmed for us that Sumlin was considering leaving as recently as a few weeks ago. They also said his ultimate goal is an NFL head coaching gig.

Follow us on Twitter:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

  1. 87 Responses to “Exclusive: Kevin Sumlin lobbied hard for USC job”

  2. So Sarkisian 8-4 record and scoring defense (89th in the nation at 31.3 pts per game) worked in his favor, but…

    Sumlin’s 8-4 record and scoring defense (84th in the nation at 30.9 points per game)worked against him?

    Makes sense.

    By MD on Dec 2, 2013

  3. lol.

    so sumlin’s 8-4 record worked against him…and usc ends up hiring a guy who’s currently 8-4.

    you really intend for us to believe that usc was given a choice, and they chose sarkisian over sumlin?

    that’s just precious.

    By woo on Dec 2, 2013

  4. Agreed. No way in H*LL we would hire Steve Sarkisian over Kevin Sumlin if Sumlin was really interested. It’s all about recruiting! Holy crap, Rivals has A&M at #3, Washington at #72. Good lord I hope this is just a rumor.

    By Trojan79 on Dec 2, 2013

  5. No one ever said they chose Sarkisian over Sumlin. Sumlin took himself out of consideration last week before even interviewing.

    As I’ve said several times, USC WANTED to interview Sumlin, but didn’t get the chance. That said, they never made him an offer and never had him as the top choice because they never had ANYONE as the top choice. Had a top group of guys and they wanted to separate them out after interviews.

    By Ryan Phillips on Dec 2, 2013

  6. Ryan,

    The problem is, you said this about Sumlin:

    “As the season progressed and the people at USC started digging into Sumlin’s background, his coaching philosophy, etc., some began to sour on him as a top option. That’s not to say he wasn’t still a target, but he had fallen down a few notches in some eyes. His team’s 8-4 record and scoring defense (84th in the nation at 30.9 points per game) also worked against him”

    Yet, your “sources” at USC are just fine with a coach that has a worse Scoring Defense, a worse record over the past 2 years and who has ties to Pete Carroll (ties into background and coaching philosophy).

    Do you not see why people are questioning your…”reporting…?

    By AggieinMD on Dec 2, 2013

  7. His record wasn’t the only issue, and we never said it was. You have to actually read the entire report not just take small quotes out.

    Sumlin had a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback and national championship-type projections and he went 8-4. His philosophy for how he uses assistants, defensive philosophy, etc. were what began to sour people on him. Record contributed but wasn’t the ENTIRE issue.

    Again, I don’t understand why A&M people are upset about this. He thought he was going to leave and wanted to. Then, when push came to shove, he changed his mind. Happens all the time. Coaches think the grass is greener a lot and are always looking for the next step.

    USC didn’t think Sumlin sucked (which is what some of you are assuming I meant), he just wasn’t the outright front-runner for the job. They had a group of five candidates, which I can reveal now that Sarkisian has been hired. The group was Sumlin, Petersen, Sarkisian, Del Rio and James Franklin, plus Ed Orgeron. Pat Fitzgerald was originally on the list as well.

    Sumlin backed out of his interview last week after pushing for the job for a while. Clearly he changed his mind.

    They met with Petersen twice and initially he also was pushing very hard for the job. After the second meeting both sides agreed he wasn’t a fit in Los Angeles (he’s a horrible interviewer apparently).

    Sarkisian blew them away with his interview but they had reservations about his record at UW.

    James Franklin was not contacted seriously because of the ongoing off-the-field issues at Vanderbilt. As they dug into those they became a big hurdle for USC folks to get over.

    Del Rio was always considered a deep backup but he really wanted the job.

    If Sumlin hadn’t taken himself out, USC may have offered him after an interview, but they never got the chance to do so. So I never said they hired anyone OVER Sumlin. Just that he was never the favorite because there was no favorite.

    By Ryan Phillips on Dec 2, 2013

  8. FULL OF IT! Exactly why your Twitter is “RumorsandRants”. Horrible reporting, same s#it you media hype do to Johnny…get a life!

    By Ross on Dec 2, 2013

  9. OK, Ryan…NOW you are saying you agree with me? YES…Sumlin took himself out of consideration! Exactly my point. If, as you say, he “lobbied hard for the better part of two months” then it was just to play us…and A&M…to get a new contract. But, that’s not the angle of your report here. Just sayin…

    By Trojan79 on Dec 2, 2013

  10. How about a direct quote from Sumlin himself? Or even a direct quote from the university. This whole article is all hearsay with “Sources” who shall not be named.

    By Bryan R on Dec 2, 2013

  11. Nobody is upset about it. I imagine I speak for quite a few Aggies when I say that we are more amused at how USC (and you) are backtracking so fast, its a shock you guys haven’t ran all the way back to the reggie bush years!

    In fact, nobody has claimed that Sarkisian was hired “over” Sumlin.

    The reasons you mentioned that USC “cooled” on sumlin all apply to Sarkisian. That is where you seem to be confused. How did USC “cool” on one coach, yet warm up to another coach when their results were almost identical?

    Those are your words so you can’t go back and change what you said. You didn’t say “it was just his philosophy”, you specifically brought up scoring defense.

    Also, this was an interesting analysis:

    “He felt quarterback Johnny Manziel was set to jump to the NFL and he was not looking forward to a rebuild next season.”

    You really think next year is a rebuilding year for A&M? Do you follow college football at all? The Aggies are losing 2 major contributors and will have a Defense filled with Sophmores/Juniors…Yet that is re-building?

    So you have to admit, it seems strange that USC “cooled” on Sumlin as the season progressed but apparently became enamored with sarkisian for producing almost identical results.

    USC got used by Sumlin and Peterson and had to go with their 4th or 5th choice. It really isn’t that hard to admit. What is humorous is that you won’t admit it.

    By AggieinMD on Dec 2, 2013

  12. Got to love it. The Aggies jump from being a middle tier team in the B12 to a middle tier team in the SEC, while having one of their greatest players ever, and as always they think they are the top program in the country. USC is a much more storied program than Texas A&M and always have been. I mean seriously what have the aggies done in, well ever? Hell even the 12th man story can’t be verified and was used by other teams before 1922. Most of your traditions are just stupid an silly and lame. No wonder why you are always playing second fiddle to Texas. I see why they laugh at you guys. They are playing their worst football on a long time and still holding their own against you while you have a “legend” at QB. Get over yourselves.

    Come back when you and Sumlin have actually accomplished something, because so far you have not done jack.

    By poor aggies on Dec 2, 2013

  13. This report is all about USC saving face because Sumlin signed with A&M, and I can prove it.
    Why would a coach so eager to go to the NFL, as you suggested, agree to a deal that prohibits him even interviewing with NFL teams? And why would A&M give a guy a raise and long term deal if he was looking for an exit?
    I have sources too. (I knew about Johnny’s punishment 4 hours before it hit the tape and emailed it to friends) and your report is way off.

    By Sam on Dec 2, 2013

  14. Gotta love whorn fans that are so obsessed over Daddy that they come to a third tier website to comment on a 4th tier article.

    Good luck with the mack brown replacement search. I heard Case McCoy can’t wait to watch…how that plays out.

    By AggieinMD on Dec 2, 2013

  15. Actually read the report, I’ve said all along that Sumlin took himself off the list of candidates. And I haven’t backtracked on anything.

    It’s not an argument that A&M has been disappointing this year, everyone agrees with that. They came into the season ranked No. 7 and No. 6 with national championship buzz and the Heisman Trophy winner back at quarterback. They are now No. 24 and No. 22. That’s a terribly disappointing season.

    The Aggies will almost certainly lose Manziel, Evans, Matthews, Ogbuehi and Malena. That’s a lot to replace.

    By Ryan Phillips on Dec 2, 2013

  16. My sources (see how that works) say you are completely wrong. I cannot see a guy from SoCal who went to Indiana then Wisconsin that as multiple sources in A&M. I do have them and everything they have said is complete opposite of this blog. I mean 100%. Again you got used to spin for USC and took the bait. Hiring Sark 2 days after Sumlin accepted his new offer proves it.

    this is Sarks 5 year record 5-7, 7-6, 7-6, 7-6, 8-4

    Throw out the first year since UW so bad but you still have a .550 or so record.

    By btt_stv on Dec 2, 2013

  17. “The Aggies will almost certainly lose Manziel, Evans, Matthews, Ogbuehi and Malena. That’s a lot to replace.”

    This is how I know you literally know nothing about A&M football.

    The Aggies have tons of offensive talent, including 4 returning O-Line starters, 3 returning Running backs and a plethora of WR’s. Yep, it sucks losing Manziel, Evans and Mathews but that is nowhere near close to a “rebuilding effort”.

    But hey! If you can’t defend what you reported, just change the topic! Notice how you had to change the topic to how dissapointing A&M’s season has been? So dissapointing that USC wanted Sumlin as their HC until he said no thanks.

    Care to retort on btt_stv facts on sarkisians record?

    By AggieinMD on Dec 2, 2013

  18. How is anyone supposed to take anything seriously that is posted on a site named Rumors and Rants? Rumors are just that. They are wrong at least as often as they are right.

    By Rex on Dec 2, 2013

  19. I saw this on Team Stream (BR) earlier. I wonder why they took it off? Sad u have to make up things like this just to try and make ure self known.

    By Deanna Middleton Robinson on Dec 2, 2013

  20. Didn’t change the topic, there was someone suggesting Washington’s season was just as disappointing as A&M’s. I pointed out the difference.

    Nowhere did I defend the hiring of Sarkisian, I’m telling you the thinking behind what USC was doing. A&M was loaded with talent and was a disappointment, Washington didn’t have much to work with and posted the same record. Does that mean Sarkisian is a better coach than Sumlin? Absolutely not and I didn’t say that anywhere.

    Facts are this: Sumlin wanted the job for a while, then changed his mind. People saying “well USC hired someone two days after Sumlin got his extension so it proves they wanted him badly” make me laugh. USC was always going to make a hire right after the regular season ended. Hires never happen in-season.

    I have said this several times now: Sumlin was supposed to interview on Dec. 1 (Sunday), then USC was going to interview Petersen and Sarkisian again for the second time each, then make a decision. The Sumlin interview was planned for a month. In the middle of last week he asked to be taken off the list.

    Sumlin, Petersen, Del Rio and Sarkisian actively lobbied for the job from the time Kiffin was fired. Haden told all of them he needed to interview them. The first three interviewed in early November and Sumlin said he wanted to wait until the season was over.

    By Ryan Phillips on Dec 2, 2013

  21. A comment section would not be complete without an obsessive troll randolph rant from shaggy. I love it.

    By Poor shaggy on Dec 2, 2013

  22. From reading this, it’s obvious that Ryan Phillips does not have connected sources at A&M.

    By Kevin Sumlin on Dec 2, 2013

  23. did br actually pay this guy for this bs…..hard to believe……

    By jay jay on Dec 2, 2013

  24. BTHO Ryan Phillips! Whoop!

    Stuffed by Kevin Sumlin

    By Steph on Dec 2, 2013

  25. No need to explain anything to all of these Aggies, Ryan. Their raging originates from the same angry little brother complex they’ve had for years towards Texas.

    By benefactor on Dec 2, 2013

  26. Hey look…I’m Kevin Sumlin too. See how easy that was?

    By Kevin Sumlin on Dec 2, 2013

  27. Ryan – You continually say “fact is”…..like “fact is he initially wanted the job but then backtracked and said he didn’t”. That is NOT factual based on direct statements from Sumlin’s wife. Your whole story is innuendo without a shred of actual facts about anything.

    And we are used to this by the tu (that’s longhorns) spin machine who never loses a recruit or coach that they want – so we tend to confirm things directly with the source. In this case the source happens to be Coach Sumlins wife who completely contradicts your claim that she was excited about moving to LA.

    Save some credibility and admit you screwed the pooch on this one. It’s all good.

    By Aggie4Life on Dec 2, 2013

  28. Listen to me people, I’d have been an idiot to take the USC gig, when I’m the self anointed King of the Brazos Valley. I’d have also been foolish to not use USC to get a better deal out of A&M.

    It’s a very simple formula. Either get a better deal out of A&M each year, or set myself up for a new gig that’s a real step up.

    I may be #BlackJesus, but there’s no way I wanted to go to USC for a job that’s as complicated as trying to cure cancer.

    Follow me on twitter and I’ll keep you informed and entertained.


    By Jive Kevin Sumlin on Dec 2, 2013

  29. And now ur story really stinks of innuendo when USC takes Sarkesian that was 34-29 in five yrs @ Washington. Kinda makes 19-5 n two yrs look pretty good. That’s n the SEC not the PAC 12

    By D on Dec 2, 2013

  30. USC and Haden doing a lot to pump the “interest” in SC job. Remember the time when SC would not have had to do this. Many of us do. Be careful of your “sources”. They have motives, and not all of them are pure.

    By Spike on Dec 3, 2013

  31. Um,I will believe what I want because I KNOW the truth. I KNOW exactly how Charlene felt about the idea of going to LA all along. You’re sources were wrong on this one. That’s just a FACT. I know straight from Charlene’s mouth…which I think is a much better source than you have. You got had on this one. Its hysterical how aggressively you are defending this. Sorry dude.

    By Marc on Dec 3, 2013

  32. Marc,
    Honestly, not defending it, just enjoy the back and forth with readers, always have. People are entitled to believe what they want.

    We have a long track record, this site has been up since 2006, if you guys don’t know about us that doesn’t mean we haven’t existed. We’ve never had to post a retraction, backtrack or take anything back in seven years. There’s a reason: we don’t report stuff that isn’t checked out, vetted through multiple sources and 100 percent true.

    The main writers on this site have journalism degrees and have worked for major publications (both on the national and local level), our careers would be at stake if we just randomly reported something that wasn’t true. Why would we risk that over a story about Kevin Sumlin? It’s not like he is a HUGE household name like Nick Saban, Urban Meyer or Bill Belichick.

    Sumlin and his wife were intrigued by LA, even if it was briefly, it is true.

    By Ryan Phillips on Dec 3, 2013

  33. I am a professor at a university. Successful faculty sometimes change jobs for more money, prestige or resources, or to live somewhere they like better. Sometimes they threaten to do so to extract more money from their home university. It is just like coaches in principle (only a lot less money). I have twice gone out of my way to extract job offers from universities that I had no intention of taking in order to get my own university to pay me more. Both times it worked. I feel a bit guilty about it, I was clearly playing the other university by pretending to be interested. I did it well, they had no idea that they were being played. Even after I turned them down, I think they believed I was truly interested. (By the way, you can only do this a couple of times in your career before people start to figure you are flaky, so you have to make it count each time). I think there is no way to know one way or the other if Sumlin was feigning interest in USC or if he really wanted the USC job. My guess is that he used the threat of moving to panic the Aggies into making him one of the highest paid coaches anywhere. I don’t know this for a fact. But there is no way some blogger knows it either. I don’t care who his sources are.

    By Baal on Dec 3, 2013

  34. So they “soured” on Sumlin because of his 8-4 record before he actually had an 8-4 record…then they ultimately hired a coach with an 8-4 record?

    Come on, now…

    By Keith on Dec 3, 2013

  35. Sumlin is a fraud and quite lazy – he cant focus more than 2 years – when the honey moons over and he ahs to wrok at it he wants to run – he will get fired from AM before the extension is completed or quit

    By Sanfran on Dec 3, 2013

  36. There really are only two possibilities regarding this article, and, really, Ryan Phillips:

    (1) Either he is completely making this stuff up, that he doesn’t even have sources, and just fabricated something he thought would make a good story; or

    (2) He has some very low-level, undiscerning “sources” that repeat the latest internet gossip, which a legitimate journalist wouldn’t ascribe any credibility to at all.

    Either one could be possible based on the responses from the author. The defenses get less and less believable. Now Ryan has “no less than five” A&M sources who confirm his story? Does anyone believe a random internet pseudo-journalist has cultivated five legit A&M sources? Does that strike anyone as remotely possible?

    The story itself is rife with critical inaccuracies. The idea that the Sumlin family was not only intrigued with the idea of living in LA, but even looked into places to live, is just a complete falsehood. It’s embarrassing, really, to read.

    There isn’t even any logical consistency in the story or the follow-up posts. The USC folks were turned off by a record he didn’t even have when they got turned off?

    Ryan, integrity matters. Either quit lying in your stories or try to exercise a modicum of discernment in who you are willing to consider a legit source. Don’t debase yourself by trying to pass this stuff on to the public.

    By Dave on Dec 3, 2013

  37. The real problem with this story is all the quotes and what was said were by Sumlin’s agents and representatives. Then Ryan comes to the conclusion Sumlin wanted the job, lobbied for the job, his family wanted to move to LA all based upon quotes from the agent…..See a problem here? That is not factual at all. What is factual is Sumlin’s agent did this and that.

    What do agents do? His agent drove the price up for Sumlin at USC, did the same to A&M…Then Sumlin gets to pick which deal. That’s what good agents do.

    By Jack Ag on Dec 4, 2013

  1. 1 Trackback(s)

  2. Dec 2, 2013: The Future of A&M Football « CBS Houston

Post a Comment