How will Kevin Sumlin do at Texas A&M?
The stat gurus and recruitniks weighed in, and things are looking up for Sumlin in College Station.
Brian Fremeau of Football Outsiders looked at three coaches that may have an immediate impact, and Sumlin made the list, alongside Urban Meyer at Ohio State and Larry Fedora at North Carolina.
The biggest need for growth is rather obvious: third-quarter failures. The Aggies famously lost five games this year despite holding a double-digit halftime lead and another with a nine-point lead at halftime.
There's reason for encouragement, though.
One thing Sumlin can build from is the Aggies' overall game efficiency, a combination measure of raw offensive, defensive and special teams success. Texas A&M ranked 20th nationally in game efficiency this season, much better than its record would indicate. The top-25 teams in game efficiency averaged 10 wins apiece this year.
We run a metric called "mean wins" to calculate the likely record of a team with a given rating against its schedule, a way to roughly account for "luck". Texas A&M fell 1.7 wins below expected this year. There's no reason to assume they'll recover that luck and those wins immediately, but several teams last year with similar bad luck included the Georgia Bulldogs, Clemson Tigers and Houston, three teams that improved dramatically on their win totals from 2010 to 2011.
And what do recruits say? There was some natural uneasiness after Mike Sherman's firing. With Sumlin officially in charge, though, they're encouraged, writes colleague Damon Sayles.
Quarterback Matt Davis, one of the top commits in the Aggies' top-flight 2012 class, is particularly excited.
"I've been a little biased with this whole situation. With him being the Houston coach and me being in Houston, I know little bit about him," said Davis, No. 108 in the ESPNU 150. "It's great to know you're getting a great, young coach with some swagger who can come in and help us win football games."
"Terrific hire," said four-star Houston Westside offensive tackle Germain Ifedi. "He'll keep the program headed in a good direction."
Ifedi waivered on his commitment, according to Sayles, but reaffirmed after Sumlin got the job.
Over the weekend, Houston Dekaney four-star running back Trey Williams talked to reporters after leading his team to the Texas Class 5A Division II state championship game wearing an A&M hat. Aledo (Texas) High School four-star offensive tackle Michael Wilson, who has helped his team advance to the Class 4A Division II state championship game, said he likes the coaching hire but still wants to speak with Sumlin.
In his introductory news conference on Monday, Sumlin emphasized the need to hold together the 2012 class, and it looks like there's some momentum for him to be able to do it.