Redskins

Cotton coaches Sumlin, Stoops know each other well

201301021001360820960-p2.jpeg

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.''

Quick Links

Chris Cooley remembers mostly positive reaction to Redskins' name from Native Americans

Chris Cooley remembers mostly positive reaction to Redskins' name from Native Americans

With the Washington Redskins' name change dominating headlines across the sports world, former players have been asked a multitude of questions to get their thoughts on the team's controversial nickname.

One of those has been, "Do you remember people having a problem with the name while you were on the team?"

The answers have, of course, been mixed. Santana Moss told NBC Sports Washington's Matt Weyrich that he first noticed a problem years into his Washington tenure getting off the team bus in Seattle, while Brian Mitchell has said he's been dealing with the negative reaction around the name since the start of his career in 1990.

On Thursday, former Washington tight end Chris Cooley joined the Kevin Sheehan show on The Team 980 and described his unique experience receiving feedback from Native Americans on the team's name.

"It's probably time to change the name, and we're in that world where you can change it, but it doesn't mean that I believe it had anything to do with anything racial. It didn't," Cooley said. "Guys I played for didn't believe that, over 75 tribes that I traveled to didn't feel that way six years ago when I went to those reservations and 30 or 40 more that I went to by myself.

"You know what, it's completely fine if you change your mind on something like that," Cooley said. "And I'll be all for it, but when I was with the Washington Redskins I don't believe anybody felt it was a racially driven name."

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE REDSKINS TALK PODCAST

Cooley traveled to several reservations across the country to gain an understanding of a culture his former team's likeness was representing. Instead of having to tie his opinion to polls and other methods for gathering a group of people's opinion, he got his information straight from the source.

"The overwhelming majority was, 'Don't forget us,' 'Don't care,' 'That's fine but I'm a Cowboys fan,'" Cooley said. "It was just a conversation that was had very comfortably."

Cooley emphasized going to reservations alone in order to get honest answers from its residents. If he were there with the Redskins in a larger group, he feared he wouldn't get the same feedback as if he were alone. Ultimately, after speaking to hundreds of Native Americans, the Wyoming native got a similar response to his questions.

RELATED: NEW NAME REPORTEDLY WON'T INCLUDE NATIVE AMERICAN IMAGERY

"We would go to casinos, we would go to rodeos, and [I'd] ask them like 'Hey how do you feel about the Redskins' name?'" he said. "People would tell us, and it was more than 9-to-1 that felt positively about it, at least on the trips that I went."

However, as Cooley acknowledged, people can and are allowed to change their minds. The response a few years ago may have been positive, but that may not be the case anymore. 

According to a report from the Associated Press, more than a dozen Native American groups sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell asking the league to force Washington to change its name. 

So, in the end, Cooley isn't going to be "an old man on the front porch" as he called it, and push against change just to keep things the way they were. 

"Times change with people and all I'm saying is I don't feel like in my time there it was ever racially driven," he said. "But I'm also not going to sit here argue for it. If people want it changed then let's change it."

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO SPORTS UNCOVERED

Stay connected with the Redskins in the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

Redskins assistant coach witnessed former Raider Barret Robbins' early mental-health issues

Redskins assistant coach witnessed former Raider Barret Robbins' early mental-health issues

Sports Uncovered is a six-part weekly podcast series that explores the stories that took the national sports world by storm. The newest episode, The Mysterious Disappearance That Changed A Super Bowl, dives into how Oakland Raiders star center Barret Robbins missed Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003 after 24 hours of partying. 

Barret Robbins was just a junior at Texas Christian when his manic episodes began. 

A potent mixture of steroids, alcohol and marijuana left the future NFL offensive lineman in a daze. It felt like he was sleepwalking. Driving to Austin from his school in Fort Worth, not really knowing what he was doing, seeking some level of attention, he smashed the window of a car dealership. 

Robbins had no intention of taking anything. But it looked like he was trying to burglarize the place. So, Austin police arrested him. It was so out of character, his TCU coaches, including current Redskins tight ends coach Pete Hoener, weren’t sure what to make of the episode. 

“My first inclination on something like that with him was ‘Man, he must have been really drunk,’” Hoener told NBC Sports Bay Area for the sixth episode of NBC’s Sports Uncovered podcast. “You know, been with the wrong person or something.”

Robbins went to jail and then to rehab before being allowed to play his senior year at TCU. But it was the beginning of a descent that continued long after Robbins failed to post for the Raiders’ appearance in the Super Bowl against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003. 

The latest Sports Uncovered podcast by NBC Sports takes a look at Robbins' infamous Super Bowl disappearance and what has happened to him since then. Listen to the full episode below or by subscribing wherever you get your podcasts:

LISTEN TO THE FULL EPISODE BELOW

Who knows if the outcome would have changed? Oakland lost 48-21. But Robbins’ life has never been the same. One of the best offensive linemen in football was out of the NFL by 2004 and left alone to deal with the depression and bipolar disorder that plagued him since college. 

The incident at the car dealership led to a diagnosis of depression by the TCU medical staff. Robbins’ story is difficult to listen to. He spoke with NBC Sports Bay Area for a 2011 interview that serves as the basis for the podcast, but otherwise few know his whereabouts now, including his former Raiders teammates. 

Robbins told NBC Sports Bay Area he likely had episodes before that one in college. But nothing where he ended up in trouble. It wouldn’t stay that way. He managed a nine-year career in the NFL before things fell apart. 

That saddens Hoener, who left TCU in 1997 and has spent the past 20 years as an assistant in the NFL, including nine with Rivera on the Carolina Panthers’ coaching staff and again this season with the Redskins. 

Hoener knew Robbins when he was just a teenager. The answer when odd things happened to a player back then was he must be drinking too much. Robbins just didn’t have the same support system that would be in place today for players at almost any level of football. Mental health is treated so much differently now. It might have made a difference for Robbins. 

“I think the thing that’s come of all this is there’s much better communication now with the medical staff and psychologists,” Hoener said. “And everybody up through the college level – maybe even the high school level – up through our level. So that a lot of those things don’t slip through.”

Want more Sports Uncovered? Check out Sean Taylor, the NFL superstar we didn't get to know, also part of the Sports Uncovered podcast series.

To never miss an episode, subscribe to Sports Uncovered and get every episode automatically downloaded to your phone. Sports Uncovered is also available on the MyTeams app, as well as on every major podcasting platform: AppleGoogle PodcastiHeartStitcherSpotify, and TuneIn

CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO SPORTS UNCOVERED

MORE NEWS: