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The stakes appear to be high for Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin in 2017.
Sumlin has a team that will, once again, have a new starting quarterback and has to replace No. 1 NFL draft pick Myles Garrett. But that shouldn’t prevent Sumlin and the Aggies from having a successful season, according to Texas A&M athletic director Scott Woodward.
Woodward said on the Paul Finebaum Show on Tuesday that Sumlin knows how important it is for the Aggies to win this season.
“Last year was extremely disappointing, Woodward said. “We were as highly ranked as (No. 4) and got up there and played very well, hard competitive games and fell off like we’ve been doing. And we were very disappointed, very disappointed as a program both coach and I, and I just want to make darn sure we’re going to get it right. We’ve had a heck of a spring, recruiting is going well but coach knows he has to win and win this year and we have to do better than we’ve done in the past.”
Texas A&M finished the 2016 season at 8-5 after a Texas Bowl loss to Kansas State. It was the third-straight 8-5 season for the Aggies and the second that ended with a bowl loss.
A&M’s win-loss record hasn’t improved since Sumlin’s first season at the school when A&M went 11-2 and Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy. But while his 33-19 record in the four years since isn’t “elite,” it’s certainly a record that many schools would like to have. And it’s also come in the hyper-competitive SEC West.
“It doesn’t come up to objective data reading of wins and losses,” Woodward said of a decision regarding Sumlin’s future. “That’s not going to be the way I look at it. It’s going to be a lot of subjectivity brought into it. How we win, what we win, how we do it. For me to make a decision. But I have all the confidence that coach is going to get it done, and he’s going to get it done in a very convincing way with what we have coming back and what we should do in playing like we did at the beginning of the  season, I just think there’s a lot of optimism and there’s a lot of good opportunity.”
If Texas A&M was to go 8-5 again in 2017 and made a decision to look for a new coach, who’s going to take the job? Sumlin’s five-year run is the best stretch for the school since R.C. Slocum’s Aggies in 1991-1995.
That’s over 20 years and two conferences ago. Slocum’s teams finished in the top 10 four times in that period and had a combined record of 51-7-1. But those accomplishments came in the Southwestern Conference and A&M went 6-6 in its first year in the Big 12.
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