Texas A&M president proclaims 'complete support' for football coach Kevin Sumlin

By Matthew Watkins

Texas A&M University President Michael Young expressed full support for his school's football coach, Kevin Sumlin, on Thursday, though he stopped short of promising that Sumlin would be back to coach the Aggies in 2017.

In an interview with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith, Young said that "Kevin Sumlin is our coach and has my complete support and our athletic director's complete support."

That prompted a follow-up from Smith: "So he will be the coach next September?"

"Kevin Sumlin has my complete support," Young repeated.

Some Aggie fans have called for Sumlin's firing after a disappointing end to the 2016 season. A&M; was ranked fourth in the first edition of the College Football Playoff rankings in November, but the team subsequently lost four of its next five games. It was the third straight late-season collapse for the Aggies under Sumlin.

But Young praised the work that Sumlin has done, noting that he has coached the Aggies during a challenging transition from the Big 12 Conference to the Southeastern Conference.

"He has had by far the best record of any coach who has moved a team from a less challenging conference to a more challenging conference," he said.

At the end of the day, Young said, "there is an enormously strong positive movement on that football program that you really have to be conscious of," he said. "Prior to Coach Sumlin's arrival, it had literally been years since we had been to a bowl game."

During Sumlin's first five seasons, A&M; has reached bowl eligibility every year. But that didn't actually break a long bowl drought. Sumlin's predecessor, Mike Sherman, reached a bowl game in each of the three seasons before Sumlin was hired.

Smith also asked Young about the last football coach that Young hired — Chris Peterson, who was named the coach of the University of Washington when Young was president of that school. Young had high praise for Peterson, but seemed to warn fans against getting their hopes up that he would come to College Station.

"It is fair to say Chris Peterson gets offered about every open coaching job every year. And I am sure it was my charm that persuaded him to leave Boise State and come to Washington," he joked. "But I have every indication he is in the middle of a pretty exciting football season at Washington and he is not talking much about going anywhere."

Washington is currently ranked number four, and will play for the Pac 12 Conference championship on Friday.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.

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