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Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma faces a confident Texas A&M club

Kevin Sumlin has taught the Aggies to keep their heads high, shoulders back
by Jenni Carlson Published: December 30, 2012

ARLINGTON, Texas — Kevin Sumlin had to flip a lot of switches at Texas A&M.

And that's not some sort of metaphorical statement.

When Sumlin arrived in College Station a year ago, the coach found himself going around the football facility always turning on lights. He felt like the building was stiff and cold and lifeless, and he hoped to inject some life into the facility.

A lot like the Aggie program.

(All right, here comes the metaphor.)

Much like Sumlin's efforts to change the feel of the football facility, he has worked to change the vibe around this program.

Mission accomplished.

The Aggie swagger is back.

“He just gives us a spark,” receiver Ryan Swope said of Sumlin, “really just motivates us and inspires us to go play with as much heart as possible.”

The results are evident. Texas A&M has won 10 games for the first time in more than a decade and did so in its inaugural season in the ultracompetitive SEC.

All of it started with an attitude adjustment courtesy of Sumlin.

“The first couple meetings that we had ... there was just a sense of confidence, a sense of ‘we can play with all these teams,'” receiver Uzoma Nwachukwu said. “He believed in us, and I think that helped.”

Sumlin said as much, telling the players that they were talented and they could be a good team, but there was also just a way that he carried himself. He walked with his head high and his shoulders back.

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by Jenni Carlson
Reporter and Columnist
Jenni Carlson, a sports columnist at The Oklahoman since 1999, came by her love of sports honestly. She grew up in a sports-loving family in Kansas. Her dad coached baseball and did color commentary on the radio for the high school football...
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