Kevin Sumlin plays his cards pretty close to the vest. This is probably a learned behavior from the times in which we live. There are lazy journos looking for a soundbite to punch out devoid of context. Indignant, emotional fan bases with pitchforks at the ready - and I'm speaking of the A&M Board of Regents, of course. Message boards. Recruits, assistants, etc. acting like dickheads on Twitter. Exhausting.
Point is, it's hard to fault the guy for taking the safe route when speaking publicly. Sumlin is entering his fifth year as A&M's head coach. His time in College Station has been anything but boring. Some big wins, some embarrassing losses, quarterback exoduses, and enough off field drama to fill a British rag.
2016 is massive for Coach Sumlin. Fair or not, his ass is firmly on the hot seat. Some pundits already suggest he's a dead man walking. Sumlin knows what's at stake. He's been there every step of the way with A&M taking it from an old fashioned, stagnant Big 12 program to the glitzy, big talkin' new kid on the country's biggest stage.
The new Hate Barn with a half-a-billion dollar price tag wasn't built for 8-5 and 7-6 football teams. It was built with the audacious goal of winning championships.
Coach Sumlin spoke this week to the Touchdown Club of Houston - in what I can only imagine is just like the Petroleum Club but with tackier Rolexes and an extra pleat in the trousers of old footbaw guys who name drop Bum Phillips in 2016.
Sumlin was much more passionate and candid than what you'd imagine for a sleepy May Wednesday in H-Town. Here are some of his better and more telling quotes:
In reference to the tumultuous off season:
"Based on some things out there right now, we can't wait to play our first game. We can't wait."
He was pounding the podium, which is cool.
Sumlin then got to the defense, saying that the John Chavis-led side of the ball has the potential to be Top 15 nationally:
"We've got to get better in our run defense, and I think we have the personnel to do that. Our defensive front will be as good as anybody in the country. Our linebackers take a lot of heat, but they're better than people think they are."
Bold talk. Count me among the skeptics around the linebacker position. I'll believe it when I see it. In October.
Sumlin went on to address the happenings surrounding his coaching staff:
"We hired three veteran coaches, and anybody who watched spring practices or the spring game can see that there's already a difference"
And the talent:
"Talent-wise, we're going to stack up with anybody, and we've got some guys who are hungry, with something to prove."
Talent in place? Check.
Coaches in place? Check.
Something to prove? Check.
Eager to play some damn football? Check.
There's only one thing that matters in 2016 - just win, baby.