Kevin Sumlin was still the football coach at Texas A&M as
of early Sunday afternoon. Until he heard differently, he
planned to hit the road recruiting later in the day. The coach,
who was supposed to be fired after the Aggies finished their
regular season against LSU, remained conspicuously employed not
because of any change of heart on the part of the Texas A&M
administration but because the two sides seem to be involved in
a high-stakes game of chicken.
According to Sumlin’s Texas A&M contract, the school owes
him the remaining balance of the deal (a little more than $10
million currently) within 60 days if Sumlin is fired. There is
no offset language in the deal that would allow part of what
Texas A&M owes to be paid by any school that hires Sumlin.
Sumlin would like to work somewhere else immediately, but he
also would like his $10 million. (Because who wouldn’t?) But if
Sumlin were to take another job before he’s fired, Texas
A&M would contractually owe him nothing.
Sumlin isn’t going to leave College Station without getting
paid. If Texas A&M’s top target is indeed Florida State’s
Jimbo Fisher, the Aggies can’t do anything to lure Fisher until
after he finishes his season Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe.
But Texas A&M can’t keep Sumlin much longer, because how
weird will it look to have a coach recruiting for the Aggies
who reportedly isn’t going to be the Aggies’ coach next year?
Texas A&M administrators also know that Sumlin wants to get
in on the jobs that are open now. Arizona State, a school
Sumlin heavily considered before taking the Texas A&M job,
fired Todd Graham on
Sunday morning and is in the market for a new coach. That
seems like a logical fit, but Sumlin isn’t likely to walk away
from his payday at Texas A&M when he could ultimately get
paid and get another Power 5 job.
A source told SI.com that there has been no contact between
Sumlin and Arizona State, and that makes sense. At the moment,
Sumlin has a lucrative job at Texas A&M. It does him no
good to leave that job voluntarily if he gets $10 million for
What can the sides do? Simple. They can negotiate. Maybe Sumlin
agrees to take that $10 million over a period of years instead
of in the next 60 days in return for Texas A&M getting this
over with now so he can seek other jobs before they get filled.
Maybe Sumlin agrees to take less money now. Both sides need to
find a solution, but Sumlin appears to have the better
So what will he do? He’ll go about his business and wait to get