Cotton coaches Sumlin, Stoops know each other well


Cotton coaches Sumlin, Stoops know each other well

IRVING, Texas (AP) Before Kevin Sumlin became a successful head coach at Houston and Texas A&M, he learned plenty during five seasons and two national championship game appearances on Bob Stoops' staff at Oklahoma.

Even before that, they were assistant coaches competing for recruits in the same area.

``Both of us had tough jobs trying to get guys to leave Miami and Fort Lauderdale to go to Manhattan, Kan., and Minneapolis, Minn., or West Lafayette (Ind.),'' Sumlin said. ``Over the course of time, we have kept in touch and then he hired me. ... It was five great years from a learning standpoint.''

The two coaches will be on the opposite sidelines Friday night in the Cotton Bowl, a matchup of former Big 12 rivals. Both are 10-2 with five-game winning streaks.

Stoops and the Sooners this season earned a share of their eighth Big 12 title, and would have almost certainly been in a Bowl Championship Series game if not for BCS-busting Northern Illinois. With Heisman Trophy-winning freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, Sumlin and the Aggies won 10 games in the coach's first season, and their first year in the SEC.

``You can see it, what he's doing now, he's an incredibly bright coach. I knew that,'' Stoops said Wednesday as they shared a podium with the Cotton Bowl trophy between them. ``Competitive, great worker, and I think what Kevin, the best thing he brings to A&M is the way he relates to his players, and players love playing for him. He has a way, and he's really brought attitude to his team.''

Sumlin was the offensive coordinator at Texas A&M in 2002 when the Aggies upset the top-ranked and undefeated Sooners in College Station, derailing Oklahoma's shot at a second national title in three years. Sumlin was hired after that season by Stoops, a Kansas State and Florida assistant in the 1990s while Sumlin was at Minnesota and Purdue.

After three years as special teams coordinator/tight ends coach and two years as co-offensive coordinator at Oklahoma, Sumlin got his first head job. He won 35 games in four seasons at Houston, which was 12-0 and on track for a BCS appearance in 2011 before losing in the Conference USA title game.

Texas A&M hired him the next week.

``He really just brought that winning attitude,'' linebacker Sean Porter said. ``Coach Sumlin doesn't care about anything other than winning football games.''

Senior defensive tackle Spencer Nealy joked about finally taking a redshirt to be around Sumlin for another year.

``Confidence, coach Sumlin is Mr. Cool, dude. He's comes in with a type of swag, as some of the guys on the team would put it, that makes us feel better. He takes all the pressure off of us,'' Nealy said. ``Right when he walks in, he brings a presence.''

The Aggies are going for their first 11-win season since 1998, the year before Stoops got to Oklahoma. The Sooners are trying to win 11 games for the 10th time under Stoops.

Sumlin was on his staff for four of those 11-win seasons and that time certainly influenced how he tries to do things now.

``How you do things day to day, the competitive nature that is in the building, the expectation level,'' Sumlin said. ``The expectation level of everybody, starting with him, everybody in the building, coaches and players, is a big, big, big factor at Oklahoma. And it starts with the head coach. ... Winning games is a big part of that, but the other part of the culture and the relationships that go on there are an even bigger part of really the atmosphere that he created or that he creates now.''

Stoops is 149-36 his 14 seasons with the Sooners, nine wins shy of overtaking three-time national champion Barry Switzer for the most wins in school history. Stoops this season surpassed Bud Wilkinson, who won three national titles from 1947-63.

Mark Snyder, who spent one season with Sumlin on the Minnesota staff 15 years ago, is the Texas A&M defensive coordinator. His players have had to practice all season against Manziel and the Aggies' offense, which averages an SEC-high 553 total yards per game.

``They got prepared to play a 12-game season, and that's what we've done,'' Snyder said. ``I think people were shocked we could go into the SEC and stop the run because of the offense that we face every day.''

Snyder, the former Marshall head coach, saw something in Sumlin when they first worked together.

``You could tell at a young age he was going to be a rock star. He just had it, he gets it,'' Snyder said. ``You knew he was going to be a good football coach. He can relate to kids, especially today's kids. ... The kids have got to be able to trust you, and I think we exceled this year because of that.''

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Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

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Scott Brooks, Ramon Sessions hoping for best with Tyronn Lue's health issues

As a fellow NBA head coach, Scott Brooks understands what Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers is going through. As his former teammate, Ramon Sessions knows how tough Lue is.

Both members of the Wizards shared their reactions after Monday's practice to the news Lue is stepping away from the Cavs to deal with a health issue. Both expressed hope Lue will not be out long as the NBA continues its trek towards the playoffs.

"All of our thoughts are with him," Brooks said. "You hope that it's nothing serious. Health is the most important [thing]. The game is secondary."


"Prayers out to T-Lue," said Sessions, who played with Lue in Milwaukee. "It's one of those things where you've gotta take care of yourself at the end of the day. Him stepping away is the best thing."

Lue's illness has been a mystery to doctors, according to a statement he released on the Cavaliers' website. He has dealt with chest pains and other symptoms while also struggling to sleep. The hope is that having time off will allow him to get the rest he needs.


Brooks knows firsthand how difficult it is to get sleep during the regular season as a coach.

"You just have to figure out ways to get your rest. Some days are better than others. Sometimes you think after a good win you can have a good night's rest or sometimes it's the opposite. It's just hard to get rest. You're traveling in different timezones. You are emotional after games. You eat late. There are a lot of factors that go into it. We don't have a set schedule every night. I have a good staff and I rely on them," he said.

Lue, 40, will be replaced by associate head coach Larry Drew in the interim. The Cavs happen to be in a tight playoff race with the Wizards and other teams in the Eastern Conference battling for position.

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Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign CB Orlando Scandrick

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Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign CB Orlando Scandrick

The Redskins seem to love former Cowboys. They signed another one today.

Mike Garafolo of NFL Media is reporting that Washington has agreed to terms with cornerback Orlando Scandrick. The early numbers put the contract at up to $10 million over two years.

Scandrick, 31, has played for the Cowboys since they made him a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft. In nine seasons in the league, Scandrick has eight interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

He has been plagued by injuries the last three years. Scandrick was out for the entire 2015 season with a torn ACL. In 2016 he missed four games with a hamstring injury and he finished last season on injured reserve with a back injury. Whether his struggles last year were due to injuries or age remains to be seen.

Scandrick joins Nosh Norman, Quinton Dunbar, Fabian Moreau, and Josh Holsey at cornerback for the Redskins. Holsey is the only natural slot corner in the group and he played very sparingly as a rookie last year. Scandrick likely will fill the slot role until Holsey is ready.

We will see what the signing costs in terms of salary cap impact when we see the details of the contract. The phrase “up to” generally means that there are incentives included in the deal so we will have to see.

In recent years, the Redskins have signed former Cowboys defensive linemen Stephen Bowen, Jason Hatcher, and Terrell McClain.


Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.