There will be so many familiar things at Cowboys Stadium when Oklahoma and Texas A&M square off in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Friday. The two schools faced each other every season from 1996 through 2011 as members of the Big 12 before the Aggies bolted for the SEC this year, and though the coaches have never faced each other, they are very familiar.
Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin spent five years on Bob Stoops’ coaching staff at OU, becoming the offensive coordinator for the Sooners before leaving to take the head coaching job at the University of Houston in 2008.
“It was five great years from a learning standpoint,” Sumiln said this week in Dallas. “From a time where it was a difficult situation to play for two national championships and lose, but to get close. One of those teams is one of the best teams I have ever been a part of. Then to go through really what was a rebuilding situation, losing a bunch of draft picks, how you handle that, how you handle adversity. I think we lost the first game in a long time at home against TCU and we bounced that team, that program back to get to the Holiday Bowl and winning and getting the program back on track. You learn a lot during that time.”
“He has all the enthusiasm and competitiveness and things that you want in a head coach,” Stoops said about Sumlin this week. “He did a great job with us and felt he would, moving forward continue to do well.”
The Aggies come into the game with the biggest buzz, having won 10 games in their first season in the SEC and with quarterback Johnny Manziel winning the Heisman Trophy last month, but Sumlin knows how good Stoops coached teams are.
“I can’t tell you how many people have thrown out that this isn’t one of (Stoops’) better teams,” Sumlin said. “What are you talking about? I’m not sure how many 10-win teams he has had. The level of expectations that has been created in the 14 years that he has been there is extremely high. When I get a question like that or an attitude like that, it tells you what kind of program he has created.”