Kevin Sumlin stayed unemployed and out of college football for all of seven weeks.
The Arizona Wildcats announced Sunday night that Sumlin, the former coach at Texas A&M, would replace Rich Rodriguez, who was fired, abruptly, earlier this month after an athletic department employee accused him of sexual harassment.
“With a strong foundation already in place, we will work quickly to assemble an elite coaching staff and immediately begin the work of establishing our culture, recruiting future Wildcats, and connecting with Wildcats past and present,” Sumlin said in a statement.
“We will win championships. We will graduate our players and they will contribute to the university in many ways while they are here. We will represent Arizona with class and pride.”
Sumlin, 53, will be introduced at a press conference, Tuesday.
He was fired Nov. 26 from A&M after six seasons. He had a record of 51-26, but his Aggies lost five games under Sumlin in each of the past four seasons.
The former University of Houston coach had been linked to several jobs since he was terminated in College Station and replaced by Jimbo Fisher. Oregon was reportedly interested in Sumlin and he was linked to Arizona State and Tennessee vacancies.
Sumlin didn’t need to immediately find a job. A&M owed him $10.4 million as a buyout of the final two years of his contract. Since there was no offset in his contract, Sumlin was owed the total amount whether he found a job or not.
Sumlin is expected to bring with him several assistants with strong ties to the Aggies. One of those assistants is Noel Mazzone, who was A&M’s offensive coordinator the past two seasons. The American-Statesman reported last week that Mazzone was expected to join Tom Herman’s staff at Texas as a quality control coach.
In addition, Sumlin is expected to keep Arizona defensive coordinator Marcel Yates, who held a similar position at A&M in 2012-13. Also, Clarence McKinney, who has been with Sumlin since their days at Houston, is expected to follow Sumlin to Arizona.
Navy’s Ken Niumatalolo, who had been considered the front runner for the Arizona job, took his name out of consideration Sunday morning.
Niumatalolo posted on Twitter: “USNA is a special place with special people and I love it here. Plus, I have unfinished business!”
Arizona officials were negotiating with Niumatalolo last week. That’s when Wildcats standout quarterback Khalil Tate tweeted: “I didn’t come to Arizona to run the triple-option.” Tate then deleted the tweet.
Maybe at Arizona, Sumlin will return to the offensive ways he initially brought to the Aggies from Houston. Sumlin modified his offensive views the longer he stayed in the SEC at A&M, turning from an up tempo passing attack to a more ball-control approach.
In Tate, who will be a junior, Sumlin inherits one of the top dual threat quarterbacks in the country. When Sumlin took over at A&M in 2012, he had quarterback Johnny Manziel, receiver Mike Evans and three eventual first-round offensive tackles.
Tate was elevated to starter midway through last season. He threw for 1,591 yards with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He rushed for 1,411 rushing yards on 153 carries and the first Arizona runner to rush for at least 200 yards in three games.
Rumors began circulating that Tate would transfer after Rodriguez was fired. But his mother posted on social media that her son would not leave.
Rodriguez always has been known as an offensive innovator. He was the first coach to use the zone read quarterback run out of the shotgun. He liked an up-tempo style, but his offenses beat teams using the run.
Rodriguez was fired Jan. 2 after his administrative assistant accused him of sexual harassment. Arizona paid him a $6.3 million buyout. Rodriguez issued a statement, admitting that he was guilty of having a consensual, extra-marital affair.