Texas A&M Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin appears to be a young guy in the industry but his history coaching across the nation is storied and filled with plenty of great success. So it is no surprise that Sumlin has a prior relationship with Florida Gators offensive coordinator Brent Pease, especially considering the two love spreading the field and making defenses work extra hard in games.
“We’ve known each other for a long time,” Sumlin reminisced during the weekly Southeastern Conference coaches teleconference on Wednesday.
Sumlin first met Pease at the One-Back Clinic, an exclusive event that has been held for 14-straight years amongst coaches from conferences across the country. Only one staff per conference is invited as the goal is for the coaches in attendance to be open about their philosophies and free to share their thoughts with each other.
“The first time I met Brent was at one that Mike Price hosted at Washington State and Brent was at Montana,” Sumlin said Wednesday. “And we’ve stayed in touch this whole time. He’s a guy that I’ve talked to quite a bit on-and-off in the offseason. He’s a guy that I have a tremendous amount of respect for, and I know that there’s a reason why he was a highly sought after coordinator last year.”
Pease was actually a candidate to replace Sumlin at Houston though the door to that opportunity shut in mid-December. He then basically had his choice of coordinator jobs with both Florida and Alabama offering him the position. Pease chose the Gators in the end though he would have been in the position to give Sumlin and his defensive coordinator fits this season no matter which team he decided to join.
“He’s a guy that I think does an excellent job, makes you defend the whole field, makes you gap-conscious, hides a lot of things with shifts and motions, unbalanced, gives you all the looks but will also do all of that with window dressing and give you power football, and then do a play action and double moves and things like that,” Sumlin said when summarizing what Pease brings to the table.
“He makes you defend the whole field. I think he’s had a good career; his career is only going to get better. And he’s also going to be an excellent head coach one day.”
Sumlin was also asked Wednesday if his team has an advantage heading into Saturday’s showdown considering the fact that Florida will not have any film to go on and will have to prepare for the game relatively blind. He dismissed that fact, noting that it is the Gators that are in the favored position heading into the contest.
“I think it’s an advantage for Florida to be able to play [last week]. There’s the old adage that you make your most improvement between the first and second game. Obviously that comes from experience. I think it’s an advantage to play and get to know your team,” he said.
“The real difference is we’re a new staff and haven’t been around these guys in a real game situation, pressure situation. We try to create that type of environment at practice with loud music, the tempo and all that stuff but there’s no way to really duplicate game speed, which we’ve got to get adjusted to, the game pressure, just the intensity level that goes on during a game. And the consequences of real mistakes during a game.
“Us being a new staff and not being around our guys in those pressure situations, that’s something that we’re going to have to get a feel for as we get going. I think Coach [Will] Muschamp being around his team a year before but also a game…we would have liked to have played last week, I’ll put it that way.”
The back-and-forth about which team may have an advantage will probably continue through ESPN’s College GameDay program on Saturday morning. In the end the only thing that matters is which team prevails that afternoon.