Sumlin and Stoops hold final press conference before Cotton Bowl

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LAS COLINAS, Texas -- Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin and Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops met with the media one final time prior to the Cotton Bowl on Friday.

The former co-workers posed together with the trophy and talked about their days coaching together at Oklahoma.

Before Sumlin was a successful head coach at Houston and now Texas A&M, he learned plenty during five seasons under Stoops at Oklahoma - including two national championship game appearances. Even before that, they were assistant coaches recruiting in Florida in the 1990s. Stoops was trying to get players to Kansas State, and Sumlin worked for Minnesota and Purdue.

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

Stoops and the Sooners this season earned a share of their eighth Big 12 title. With Heisman Trophy-winning freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel, Sumlin and the Aggies won 10 games in their first SEC season.

Head Coaches News Conference Texas A&M Coach Kevin Sumlin
Opening comments: “First of all, thank you Texas A&M is extremely excited to be here at the AT&T
Cotton Bowl. I can’t tell you after the year we have had to come to Dallas the hospitality has been
fantastic at the Anatole. I want to thank our practice facility people at SMU and at Highland Park
(High School). Coach (Randy) Allen has put up with us the last couple of days. For our fans, the
location, the venue, everything that is going on in our time slot Friday night for viewership
nationally, it is going to be a great atmosphere at Cowboys Stadium. We are excited to be here and
are looking forward to Friday.”
On the recruiting battles between he and Coach Stoops and how that works when they are good
friends: “As long as you are not doing unethical, you are friends. It is like playing golf, sometimes you win
and sometimes you lose. You might get upset a little bit, but you come back through it. That is just the way
it is.”
On whether teams can use extra time before bowl game to insert new things on offense and
defense for the game plan: “The time factor with us playing the (Jan.) 4th, I think has helped us with all
the award things going on and gave us some time. That four days past New Year’s (Day) has helped us
just because we had so many guys running around all over the place in early December. I think how you
manage that becomes important. The players, which is something I learned when I was at Oklahoma, the
later the game if you do things too early the players can get bored. You got to keep them interested. Like I
said, the way things are done here at the Cotton Bowl outside of football practice allows you to focus on
what you are doing because our kids are having a fabulous time and being treated in a first-class manner
so that all fits together.”
On whether when he arrived at Texas A&M he realized what he had in quarterback Johnny
Manziel or did he have to wait until the fall to realize what he could bring: “Well based on the fact
we didn’t name him the starting quarterback until two weeks before the first game, I don’t think in the spring
we had any idea. We talked to him in the spring about taking care of the ball. He is obviously very talented,
but there were a lot of things he needed to work on from a ball security standpoint. He continued to work
through that in the summer and through two-a-days. You never really know, especially with a freshman with
so many moving parts going into a game. But the first game, that being a (College) Game day like
atmosphere, with everybody there, playing Florida, how he responded early in the game you had to feel
like he had a chance to be a good player. As things played out the rest of the year, you never knew that
was going to happen. As well as he played, I think he would be the first to tell you that he can improve and
work at improving. That is probably his best characteristic that he is honest with himself and he is probably
a little harder on himself then we are. He is a great competitor.”
On what he needed to feel as far as the culture of past on the field shortcomings at Texas A&M:
“The first thing we did was we didn’t talk about it very much what happened in the past. It seemed to be
what everyone wanted to talk about externally, but internally we just didn’t talk
about it. I think, any time you have to get over a hump or clear a hurdle, you got to win a game in a certain
fashion. The come-from-behind win at Mississippi at Ole Miss I think really helped us. So a lot of those
times our seniors guys who had lost a bunch of games like that, to go on the road and win regardless of
what you say as a coach, you’ve got to be in that situation to be successful. I think when that happened, a
lot of things changed for our team.”
On what you learned from working as an assistant coach with Coach Stoops about day-to-day
preparation that has helped you as a head coach: “I think you just heard him (Coach Stoops) talk about
it a couple of minutes ago, how you do things day to day, the competitive nature that is in the building, the
expectation level, I think I said that two weeks ago when I was talking at the original press conference, you
can hear it a couple minutes of go. I think 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. All that in how you do that with the involvement of your families and your whole lifestyle is a big deal
because it is not like that everywhere. To be successful, to have the amount of success he has had and
deal with the number of coaches that have come out of the program to become head coaches, the number
of families that are still close is a testament to how he does things. Winning game 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.”
Head Coaches News Conference Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops
Opening remarks: “I want to compliment all of you, Tommy Bain, Rick Baker, and all those associated with the AT&T Cotton Bowl.
You all do things in a first class manner and it has been a fabulous week in all ways. Whether it has been practicing in Cowboys
Stadium or staying at the Gaylord Texan, a fabulous hotel, everything has been fantastic. The players have enjoyed it and we
appreciate all your hard work. Our players have handled themselves well this week among meetings and practice. We understand
the challenge ahead of us in facing Texas A&M. Kevin has done a great job there and I want to congratulate him on a great year
this year. I know our fans are excited about this game considering it sold out on the first day and our players are as well. We are
looking forward to Friday and can’t wait for the challenge.”
On recruiting battles vs. Kevin Sumlin: “Business is business. We are still friends, but you have to do your job. As long as we
aren’t doing anything unethical, we understand that it is the competitive world we live in.”
On the extra time given for bowl preparations: “Anytime you are playing you can add a wrinkle or two. I think everyone does
when you have this amount of time. Even though on a weekly basis you can add a wrinkle or two as to what fits and what you are
doing. For instance, early on moving forward you work on some things that you plan on doing next year with some younger
players. That is what we did with some of our quarterbacks that may be able to run the ball a bit more.”
On becoming the winningest head coach at Oklahoma: “I never had imagined doing that. I’m not the type of person that
operates in that way. I have high expectations, but I don’t sit there envisioning things like that. I’m more of a day-to-day, week-toweek,
month-to-month trying to get better type of guy. In our business, you can’t look to see what might happen in fifteen years,
but more so day to day. I don’t think about all of that; right now I am thinking about Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M here in a few
On Kevin Sumlin as a Head Coach: “You see it in what he is doing now; he is an incredibly bright coach, I knew that. He is
competitive, great worker, and I think what Kevin brings to Texas A&M is the way he relates with his players and how those
players want to play for him. He has a way to bring attitude to his team. I thought the same thing when he was with us. He brought
attitude and relationships with the players. That is what you need to be successful and compete at a high level.”
On the long-term success at Oklahoma: “It is difficult. There are ebbs and flows to all programs. You look over the last fourteen
or fifteen years, we have been fortunate to maintain a strong level of championships and bowl games. I credit a great
administration. We have a great President in David Boren, a great Athletic Director in Joe Castiglione, who has given us great
support. I’ve had great assistant coaches like Kevin Sumlin. We have had good solid players. Fortunately, I believe we have done
it the right way.”
On the added distractions of having players with accolades such as a Heisman Trophy Winner: “As Kevin said, when you
play a later game it is beneficial to that player. It is a distraction early in December, but then that fades away coming into bowl
preparations. I’m sure Kevin has done the same thing; you manage those couple of weeks as to what his obligations are. You go
ahead and start to minimize those so that he can concentrate on playing ball. There probably is a bit more made of it than it
actually does affect the guy. Again, I think if there was an earlier bowl game it may be a bit more problematic.”
On Kevin Sumlin having to hire a new offensive coordinator: “For Kevin, he has already done a great job hiring those guys.
You want someone that is going fit your style of players. Their offense obviously has been very successful. I bragged a lot about
how he has played an entire SEC schedule and they’re third in the nation in total and scoring offense against all those defenses.
I’m sure he will find somebody. We have always tried to find somebody that fit our players and the way we want to play. I’m sure
Kevin has his ideas.”
On being comfortable in getting into a shootout: “Well we have been in a bunch of them. Our players have played in some
tight situations in the last several weeks and have responded well. They have competed all the way to the end of those games. You
never know how it is going to go.”
On the importance of beating an SEC team: “I don’t look at it that way. It all is propaganda and what the media does. We need
to win for other reasons. I’m not worried about the media war. I am sure they have lost some of those games already, so I don’t
get into that stuff.”

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