Kyler Murray's transfer raises serious questions about Kevin Sumlin, Aggies

Two weeks, two quarterback departures. The transfer culture that permeates college football's most important position is one thing; this is quite another for Texas A&M.

The cold, hard truth: This is ugly.

The Aggies witnessed their second scholarship quarterback in as many weeks leave the program as freshman Kyler Murray elected to transfer out of the program, only a week after sophomore Kyle Allen -- a fellow former top-ranked recruit at the position -- did the same.

What the Aggies are left with are two scholarship quarterbacks who have zero FBS starts between them. One, sophomore Jake Hubenak, appeared in four games in relief action this season. The other, Conner McQueen, is a former walk-on who didn't take a quarterback snap all season and has primarily served as a holder for field goals and point-after-touchdown kick attempts.

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin built an image on working with -- or at least being in the presence of -- great quarterbacks. Johnny Manziel. Case Keenum. Drew Bledsoe. Drew Brees. The list is long and decorated and undoubtedly contributed to his ability to reel in the nation's top-ranked quarterback in consecutive recruiting cycles.

Now that image is taking a beating, and there are real questions that need to be answered about what's going on in College Station, Texas, such as:

  • What's going on that Texas A&M couldn't keep its two top quarterbacks?

  • How did the offense go from one of the best in the country to one that ranked in the middle of the pack nationally?

  • What is the future of this program, both offensively and big-picture, under Sumlin, after failing to win more than four SEC games in each of the past three seasons?

While some in the fan base were frustrated with how the past two seasons transpired, Sumlin wasn't on any real shaky ground going into 2016. The events of the past week, however, raise serious concerns among those closest to the program and have everyone wondering about the temperature of Sumlin's seat going into next season.

Will this be the body blow that signals the beginning of the end for Sumlin in College Station?

At quarterback, the season became a mess. Sumlin, who traditionally in his coaching career picked one starting quarterback and stuck with him unless there was an injury or prolonged struggles, chose an alternative approach this season, playing both Allen and Murray in the season opener.

Sumlin has long emphasized that he never wanted his quarterback to look over his shoulder, but how could Allen do anything but that after Murray twice entered the Aggies' season-opening victory over Arizona State and continued to appear throughout the season?

The quarterback yo-yo created inconsistency in the offense and uncertainty from week to week. Asked Wednesday if he wishes he had stuck to his old method, Sumlin said, "Hindsight is always 20/20, particularly when things don't work out."

"When things do work out, it is never an issue," Sumlin said. "Whenever any kind of adversity hits or there is a problem, the process is always going to be scrutinized. ... This job and this team, everything pays off on results. If the results aren't what you’re looking for, then you have to re-evaluate the process in which you came to them."

Not helping matters was the fact that Sumlin -- who doesn't prefer to address injuries publicly but is often inconsistent in his policy in commenting on them -- never indicated that Allen wasn't 100 percent when the sophomore struggled mightily in a 23-3 loss at Ole Miss on Oct. 24. It was only a month later, after Allen returned to the starting lineup and told the media himself that he suffered an AC sprain in his throwing shoulder during the Oct. 17 Alabama game, that Allen's health situation came to light.

It's not hard to see why, as sources indicated to ESPN.com, trust issues existed between the quarterbacks and the coaching staff. That, along with the uncertainty over the direction of the offense and future of the coaching staff, almost certainly contributed to the departures of Allen and Murray.

Throughout his coaching career, Sumlin regularly alluded to an adage that seemingly became a favorite of his after losses: It's not what happens to you, it's how you react to it. Sumlin's long-term future in Aggieland will be determined on that premise: What's done regarding the quarterbacks is done. How will Texas A&M's $5 million man respond to the adversity his program faces?

Will he be able to flip a highly touted 2016 quarterback recruit who is already committed to another school? Will he be able to hang on to the pledge of 2017 ESPN Junior 300 quarterback Tate Martell for another 14 months? Will he make an offensive coaching staff change -- involving either OC Jake Spavital or the entire offensive coaching staff? What will be the identity of the offense from here on out? Will the Aggies return to the up-tempo, highly productive ways that made them so successful when they crashed the SEC party in 2012?

There are several questions and an offseason to provide answers.

Asked Wednesday about the root of the struggles of the offense, Sumlin -- long touted in the coaching industry as an offensive guru -- took responsibility.

"I think offensively, we have struggled," Sumlin said, "and if there is anybody to blame, that’s me."

Aside from absorbing the blame, it's time for Sumlin to right the ship, and quickly.