Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin will be fired following the Aggies’ regular-season finale at LSU on Saturday night, multiple people with knowledge of the situation said.
Sumlin is expected to be dismissed in the day or days following the A&M game against the Tigers. The Aggies are a double-digit underdog to the Tigers, and an A&M victory wouldn’t save his job at this point, the sources said.
A resolute Sumlin said Tuesday at his weekly press conference that he expects to be A&M’s coach next season.
The Aggies have been good but not great under the sixth-year coach, failing to reach double-digit victories in the last five seasons since finishing 11-2 in Sumlin’s first season and A&M’s first year in the SEC in 2012.
Even that season A&M finished third in the SEC West behind Alabama and LSU, and the Aggies haven’t come close to competing for a division title since. Sumlin has two years remaining on his contract that pays $5 million annually, and the two sides are expected to negotiate a buyout in the range of $10 million.
The Aggies (7-4, 4-3) have finished 8-5 in each of the last three seasons, and would need an upset of LSU and a bowl victory to better that mark by a game this season. LSU has won all five of the team’s prior meetings as SEC opponents, a tidbit particularly irking A&M’s fan base, as the Aggies have tried establishing the Tigers as division rivals.
Asked if he would have been thought of differently at A&M had he won a few of those games against LSU, Sumlin replied, “It would probably be different if I won a couple of games against other people, too.”
A&M invested about a half-billion dollars in rebuilding Kyle Field and expanding its capacity to more than 102,000 fans a few years ago, and attendance was down this season as A&M lost at home to division foes Alabama, Mississippi State and Auburn. A&M chancellor John Sharp, an unyielding force behind the Kyle Field rebuild, has been adamant about producing a program that will compete with Alabama and others for SEC titles.
The Aggies’ top target is Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, according to multiple insiders. Fisher won a national title following the 2013 season with the Seminoles, but FSU is 4-6 so far this season, easily his worst showing in eight years as head coach in Tallahassee, Fla. He’s won at least 10 games in a season six times at FSU, something Sumlin has managed once at A&M in six seasons.
Fisher’s name first surfaced to the Chronicle as a candidate in September, after the Aggies blew a 34-point lead at UCLA in the season opener. Fisher, who’s 82-23 at FSU, has said late this season that he will not address other jobs, including A&M. A&M athletic director Scott Woodward, brought onboard in part in 2016 to systematically evaluate Sumlin’s tenure, and Fisher have a prior relationship from working together at LSU in the early to mid-2000s.
Sumlin is a solid 51-25 at A&M, but his program’s falters against division foes – especially late in the season – are what finally caught up to him. Sumlin has a losing record overall against the SEC West (16-19) and has finished no higher than fourth in the five seasons since 2012.