NORMAN — Bob Stoops and Kevin Sumlin held a joint media teleconference Wednesday, and if you didn't know the two coaches were meeting as opponents in Jan. 4's Cotton Bowl Classic, it might've been hard to tell from the frequent laughter and back-and-forth praise.
Asked what stuck out to him about Sumlin, Stoops called the Texas A&M coach, “incredibly bright in everything that he does. Relates well with his players. Excellent recruiter. All the things you want.”
When Sumlin left Stoops' Oklahoma staff after the 2007-08 season to become Houston's head coach, what did he expect?
“I expected him to do well for all the reasons I just said,” Stoops said. “I knew he'd hire quality people, which none of us do it alone, and he's done that with an excellent staff.”
Both coaches chuckled after Sumlin quickly added, “That's my new agent right there.”
Sumlin was Texas A&M's offensive coordinator in 2002 — when the Aggies upset the Sooners in College Station — and the next year, Stoops hired him at Oklahoma.
Sumlin coached OU's special teams and tight ends for three seasons before being promoted to co-offensive coordinator.
“I think the biggest thing that I got out of the experience in five years was the culture that Bob had created, the winning culture, how to do things, how things were done at Oklahoma,” Sumlin said.
“That's not easy to do. That's something that obviously changed, was brought back when he got there, and has continued.”
Stoops was asked to share a favorite moment or two from his time with Sumlin on staff.
“I can't speak about it to the media on the line,” Stoops said with a laugh before adding, “I think sharing the championships that we won together. We had a lot of good quality wins and championships together that we all, with our wives and kids, we always made sure we enjoyed them.”
A&M MOVING ON WITHOUT KINGSBURY
Sumlin said that despite former offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury's departure, his team won't “depart from what we do at this point of the year.”
Kingsbury, who was a standout Texas Tech quarterback in the early 2000s, was hired to replace Tommy Tuberville as the Red Raiders' head coach.
He'd been a Sumlin assistant since 2008, and — as the Aggies' quarterbacks coach — was important in the development of 2012 Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Johnny Manziel.
“We have an offensive staff that understands what we're doing, made some adjustments,” Sumlin said.
Sumlin said Clarence McKinney, the Aggies' running backs coach, will call plays in the Cotton Bowl, and that receivers coach David Beaty will coach quarterbacks in the interim.
KEEPING MANZIEL IN POCKET IS KEY
Oklahoma assistant Bobby Jack Wright, who coaches defensive ends, said deciding how to defend Manziel is like asking, “Which ocean do you wanna drown in?”
“(If you) rush him and get out of your rush lane, and you give him an avenue to get out of there, and he's gonna beat you with his legs,” Wright said. “But if you don't rush him, you don't collapse the pocket, you don't get pressure on him, then he can beat you with his arm.
“Very, very deserving of the Heisman. It wasn't an accident that he won the Heisman. He put the work out there on the field, and he's got the numbers to back it up and had an incredible year.”
Wright said the key task is to keep him in the pocket, because of how dangerous Manziel can be when he scrambles.
“You've gotta keep him in the pocket,” Wright said. “He can't get out. That's easier said than done, but that'll be the task at hand.”
Stoops, when asked Tuesday when he'll name next season's starting quarterback: “Here we go already. ... I don't care when we name it. We've done this for a lot of years and we feel hurried to do it. We like them to compete.”