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University of Arizona hires Kevin Sumlin as head football coach

Texas A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin watches his team warmup before an NCAA college football game against Auburn on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

The Arizona Wildcats named Kevin Sumlin as their next head football coach on Sunday night, finalizing their coaching search after firing Rich Rodriguez over allegations of misconduct 11 days prior.

The school will introduce Sumlin at a 10 a.m. press conference Tuesday.

“This is a tremendous day for Arizona Football and I am thrilled to welcome Kevin to our family,” said Arizona Athletic Director Dave Heeke in a statement. “He is a proven winner who will have an immediate impact on not only our football program, but also on our department and university.

“An accomplished coach and an excellent recruiter, Kevin shares our vision and values and fits with who we are and who we want to be. His commitment to academics and to community service are a testament to his character. I have no doubt that Kevin will bring an exciting brand of football to Tucson and that championships will follow.”

Rodriguez used his Twitter account to post a letter of support for Sumlin and the Wildcats.

Earlier Sunday, Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo declined an offer from the university, deciding to return to the Navy for an 11th season.

The move follows the dismissal of former Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez’s in a scandal involving a $7.5 million harassment claim filed by a former UA employee.

Sumlin holds an 86-43 record as a college head coach at Houston and, most recently, Texas A&M.

“I am humbled and honored to join the Arizona Family,” Sumlin said in a statement. “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.

“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. I want to thank President (Robert) Robbins and Dave Heeke for the opportunity to be a part of something special and I cannot wait to get started.”

Before joining the ranks as a coach, Sumlin was a starting linebacker for the Purdue Boilermakers. He was a member of the 1984 Peach Bowl team and led it in tackles (91) during his freshman year.

Sumlin got his first shot at coaching as a wide receivers coach at Wyoming. He joined Minnesota following the 1992 season where he continued working with receivers until 1997, when he became the quarterbacks coach.

He would return to his alma mater in 1998 as the receivers coach before becoming Texas A&M’s assistant head coach and offensive coordinator from 2001-02.

In 2003, he became the Oklahoma Sooners tight ends and special teams coach under head coach Bob Stoops, whose brother Mike Stoops coached Arizona from 2003-11. In his final two years with the Sooners, Sumlin took over co-offensive coordinator duties.

Sumlin saw his first head coaching action in 2008 with the University of Houston. Under Sumlin, Houston ended its 28-year bowl game losing streak by taking down the Air Force in the Armed Forces Bowl. The Cougars finished the season at 8-5.

In 2009, Sumlin continued his streak-busting ways when Houston defeated Oklahoma State on the road to capture its first victory over a top-10 team since 1991. For his efforts, Sumlin was recognized as a finalist for the Paul “Bear” Bryant National Coach of the Year Award. Houston finished the season at 10-4 before posting a lackluster 5-7 record in 2010.

Sumlin put together his best record with the school in 2011, going 13-1 and reaching No. 6 in the BCS standings in the process. In his final season, his team averaged 50 points per game, which led the NCAA.

Under his tutelage, then-quarterback Case Keenum found success while at Houston by becoming the NCAA’s all-time leading passer.

Sumlin left Houston following the 2011 season for the head coaching position at Texas A&M.

In 2012, Sumlin oversaw one of his most notable quarterback changes when he made redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel the starting quarterback. Manziel made national headlines throughout the year, and that culminated in November 2012 when the Aggies took down then-No. 1 Alabama.

Sumlin would cap off his first year as the Aggies head coach with a 41-13 blowout win over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl, finishing 11-2 and No. 5 in the country. Sumlin signed a two-year extension with the Aggies shortly after the season.

Sumlin led the Aggies to a 9-4 season in 2013, capped off by a come-from-behind win against Duke in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl. Again, Sumlin was signed to an extension that would keep him in Aggieland through 2019.

The Aggies finished 8-5 three seasons in a row from 2014-16, making three postseason appearances but only captured one victory. In 2017, sitting at 7-5 at the conclusion of the regular season, Texas A&M announced that Sumlin had been relieved of his coaching duties.

Sumlin made Texas A&M a hot target for recruits since he took over. Throughout the course of his tenure, the Aggies’ recruiting classes finished outside the top-15 just once in 2016, ranking as high as fourth overall in 2014.

Sumlin oversaw the signing of former five-star prospect and the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Myles Garrett. Along with Garrett in 2014, Phoenix native Kyle Allen, the No. 1 overall pocket-passer at the time, signed with the Aggies.

The following season, Sumlin landed a commitment from the No. 1 overall dual-threat quarterback, Kyler Murray.

Though, following a dismal 8-5 season in 2015 that saw both Allen and Murray benched for performance, both transferred from the program.

Sumlin’s recruiting ties in Arizona extend beyond that of Kyle Allen in 2014. Defensive end Qualen Cunningham committed to the Aggies in 2014, while cornerback Priest Willis transferred from UCLA prior to the 2016 season, and quarterback Tyler Bruggman transferred from Montana State in 2017.

Perhaps one of the most notable of Sumlin’s recruits from Arizona, wide receiver Christian Kirk, who has been named a potential first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Now, Sumlin will use his previous ties in Arizona to take over a Wildcats squad who finished 7-6 after starting the season 6-2.

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