People love motivational quotes, even when they have no idea where they came from. Go into any standard business office in the world and you get to get kicked upside the head with generic quotes about “leadership” or “teamwork” to a setting sunset, field of daisies, or some dude scaling a mountain.
Quotes are an easy way to explain away situations and give hope that something better is on the way, but in the end, they’re just words.
The title of this article is total hypocrisy … “strike while the iron is hot.” It was first published in 1566 and is, more literally, about a blacksmith needing to shape metal while it’s warm and pliable before it becomes hard and unable to mold.
Less literally, it means, “when you have the opportunity to do something, the smart move is to just do it rather than wait, because if you wait, the opportunity might absolve itself from possibility.” That doesn’t fit so well on a poster of some guy wandering through a desert in some pyramid scheme office.
Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin had some pretty pliable iron about three years ago. He was one of the hottest coaches around, rumored to be on the wish list of every major college program and NFL team with an opening and a pulse.
This followed his taking over TAMU after his last 12-1 season at Houston, the Purdue alum overseeing the Johnny Manziel era, which ended with the first redshirt freshman to win the Heisman Trophy. Sumlin did an admirable job during the Manziel era, especially off the field, which had to include either an overdose of melatonin tablets or just resigning oneself to sleepless nights.
There were rumors the Eagles wanted him more than Chip Kelly. There were rumors USC wanted him more than anybody. Sumlin liked where he was at and parlayed it in 2013 to the tune of a 6-year deal that would pay him $5 million annually.
Now, Sumlin deals with the first spat of real questions about the future of a program under his tenure after the top two quarterbacks on his depth chart in a remarkably throwing-friendly offense have transferred.
The Aggies are coming off of consecutive 5-loss seasons, and the Ags record in the SEC the last two years is a mediocre 7-9. Next year’s schedule won’t be afforded the same luxuries of this seasons, which saw them travel away from College Station for three true road games only three times.
They’ll enter it less secure at that one position that Sumlin teams are always secure in … quarterback. When they came in, Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray were huge coups for TAMU, and just as huge a chasm they leave upon their departure.
Did Sumlin miss his golden opportunity to take an NFL job, or if the NFL comes a-knocking now, would he be more likely to pick up the phone? It’s hard to tell. Anyone that parlays their success into a $5 mil annual pay day certainly has taken advantage of their success, but we’ve seen plenty over time of coaches who were the next hot commodity having a few mediocre seasons and slipping off of the big boy hire radar.
More specifically, what is up with the signal caller situation? It’s fair to say that the position has been nothing but total chaos since Sumlin has come there, ironic considering how friendly the system is to that position.
QB’s should be bare knuckle brawling for a shot to be in that offense. Yet, all that has happened has been the tumultuous Manziel era followed by elite recruits deciding they’d rather be somewhere else. One thing that seems to be permeating is the fact that the position under Sumlin comes with some built-in self entitlement. On Dec. 17th, shortly after Allen had transferred and when the Murray rumors were swirling, TAMU player Germain Ifedi “subtweeted,” as the kids do these days, something about entitlement.
Entitlement is such a silly beast. Welcome to 2015.
— Germain Ifedi (@GermainX1) December 17, 2015
Subtlety and young people have never gone well together.
It’s safe to say that the Manziel era had its own hint of much-self-worth. Is there an issue with how quarterbacks are feeling about their role on the team versus every other position, or is it more just an amalgam of specific personalities that have led to those actions, and can it be avoided when recruiting the next great Sumlin QB?
Hard to tell, there.
Kevin Sumlin has been great his entire career. But, this is a new style of adversity for him. Someone once told me that stress is good, should be embraced, and that’s the only way to learn from it. There’s value in that comment.
Like it or not, there’s a new kind of stress around TAMU, and this is one hell of an opportunity to clean it up. (Insert motivational quote here with picture of Sumlin fighting off ferocious lions with a stick and slingshot).
Follow TSS on Twitter @TheStudentSect