This is what one NFL team personnel man said about Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin. Please pay close attention. This is instructional.
"The best coach in college football is Nick Saban. I don't know if there's much argument about that. The second best, right behind him, is (Sumlin). When you really look at what he's done at Texas A&M, it's pretty remarkable. That program isn't as talented as some people want to make it. They have a good quarterback (Johnny Manziel) and some other good players, but overall the talent there is very average, and they play in a conference that has talent everywhere.
"I think he's had a lot of success there with smoke and mirrors. His will and ability to build something, to me, is unparalleled in college football. It comes close to what Saban does. In the NFL, we see him as a rising star."
All of this makes Sumlin the perfect candidate to straighten out the mess in D.C. No, not the political mess. The football mess.
Once Mike Shanahan is canned and inducted into the Press Conference Hall of Fame, Dan Snyder will be looking for his eighth coach in 14 years as owner. Snyder fires so many people there are separate unemployment statistics for former Washington coaches.
What the franchise needs is stability. Well, it needs a real general manager, too, but first, some steadiness among the coaching ranks. There isn't a more perfect fit for Washington than Sumlin. Not one. Not even close.
NFL team executives that know Sumlin describe him as one of the most intelligent, mentally tough and adaptable coaches they've ever encountered. I've written about him before, and since then he's only become more impressive.
There are some who think Sumlin is a top-five coaching candidate in the NFL. There are some who think, despite recently signing a new contract with Texas A&M, that he will be in the NFL within two years. This makes sense, since college contracts have zero value when it comes to the NFL. They might as well be written on toilet paper. If Sumlin wants to go to the pros, he can sure as hell go to the pros.
Various media reports say Sumlin has a $5 million buyout in his new contract if he leaves early. I say again: These contracts mean little to the NFL. If Snyder wanted Sumlin, he could get him. He has the resources and lawyers to break contracts.
Snyder should get Sumlin on the phone and pay him what he did Shanahan—$7 million a year, or $2 million more than what Sumlin is making now. Snyder can afford it. He pays that for RGIII's limo service.
Sumlin would be worth it. He would bring three important qualities to a franchise lacking almost everything:
• Sumlin is good with quarterbacks. Sumlin didn't initially know exactly what he had with Manziel, but once he did, he adapted everything around him to fit what Manziel did best. In Washington, Sumlin would decipher the RGIII puzzle and make Griffin effective again. I think Sumlin is smart enough to do it and less egotistical than Shanahan. He won't sit Griffin because Griffin can't figure out his style. He'll make an offense that fits the ever-evolving RGIII—whom I think will become almost exclusively a pocket passer next season.
• He has the temperament to deal with Snyder. Someone needs to convince Snyder to maintain a more professional relationship with his quarterback. Shanahan is right about them being too close and how that can disintegrate a locker room. Sumlin is egoless enough, yet confident enough, to broker a buffer between the two men. He'll command the respect of both—something I don't think Shanahan had.
• He can handle a crisis. If he can deal with the egomaniacal Manziel—who blows off passing camps and appears to really, really, really like signing autographs—he can handle the Washington circus and all of its accompanying radioactive fallout. Sumlin is battle tested already.
There's a myth that college coaches fail in the pros. There have been some legendary flops, and one of them, Steve Spurrier, was a notorious Snyder hire. Saban was terrible in the pros, as were others. But Paul Brown did OK, right? Jimmy Johnson was dominant. Tom Coughlin beat Bill Belichick twice in the Super Bowl. Jim Harbaugh has coached in a Super Bowl, and Pete Carroll might get to one this year.
The biggest thing Sumlin can do is ground the franchise and eradicate what has been one of the NFL's worst star cultures. Sumlin can do it because he's both grounded and effective.
Last year Texas A&M went 11-2 and finished fifth in the nation. It was the school's highest end-of-year ranking since the 1950s. There are many other accolades, but his greatest assets would be as innovator...
…and D.C. peacemaker.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!