The Los Angeles Daily News’ Scott Wolf says the Trojans are looking to make the hire next month and that the current Texas A&M coach is their top target. Sumlin went 35-17 as head coach of Houston from 2008-2011, including a 12-1 season in his final year. He then went to Texas A&M and went 11-2 last season and is 7-2 this season.
Sumlin has made the most of his quarterbacks at both stops; he had Case Keenum at Houston (the team went 5-7 the season Keenum got hurt), and he’s had Johnny Manziel at A&M.
Wolf says Vanderbilt’s James Franklin, Boise State’s Chris Petersen, former Raiders and Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden, and Jack Del Rio have been mentioned the most as candidates.
Franklin went an impressive 9-4 last season with Vanderbilt, which is generally considered a lower-tier program in the SEC. Petersen has long been considered one of the top coaches in the country and has gone 90-11 at Boise State since 2006, but he has been reluctant to leave his current position. Del Rio used to coach the Jacksonville Jaguars and is currently the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos. He’s a former USC player and reportedly would not leave his current position until after the season. Gruden hasn’t coached since being fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after the 2008 season. He seems happy in his current role as an ESPN NFL analyst, though he recently said he would like to get back into coaching.
Former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith has also been mentioned in association with the job.
Would Sumlin leave A&M for USC? He has a lot of momentum going with the Aggies. Their donations are up, their new facilities are coming, and they have been rolling. But he’s also likely to lose Manziel after the season, so it wouldn’t be a bad time to bolt. Would Sumlin want to leave the SEC — the top conference in the country — for the Pac-12? Maybe considering USC is historically a better program than A&M and would likely to pay Sumlin accordingly.