Brewton native tapped as first African American football coach at Arizona

Published 2:18 pm Monday, January 15, 2018


Brewton native Kevin Sumlin was recently hired as the new football coach at Arizona.

Sumlin is the first black head football coach at the school.

The school announced Sumlin’s hiring Sunday evening.

First-Year athletics director Dave Heeke made that announcement.

Sumlin is expected to be introduced in Tuscon, Ariz., on Tuesday.

Sumlin, 53, comes to Arizona after six years at Texas A&M.

At A&M, Sumlin had a 51+26 record and coached Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, who was the first redshirt freshman to win the honor.

The Aggies fired him in November after he had his fourth five-loss season.

Heeke said in a news release that Sumlin is “as proven winner who will have an immediate impact on not only our football program but also on our department and university.”

He also said that Sumlin, “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 not doubt that Kevin will bring an exciting brand of football to Tucson and that championships will follow.”

Sumlin said in a statement that he is “humbled and honored” to become a Wildcast and that Arizona already has a “strong foundation” in place, according to

“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,” he said. “We will win championship. 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.”

He also spent four years at Houston.

In Sumlin’s 10 seasons as a head coach, his offenses have averaged more than 500 yards of total offense every season, including more than 500 yards five times. His teams have scored more than 500 points five times, including 690 points in 2011.

His record against non-conference teams ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 was a perfect 5+0, with wins over No. 22 Louisiana Tech and No. 11 Oklahoma in 2012; No. 22 Duke in 2013; No. 15 Arizona State in 2015 and No. 16 UCLA in 2016.

Additionally, under his leadership, the Aggies defeated at least one AP Top 25 opponent away from Kyle Field in each of his first five seasons, and his 12 victories over Top 25 teams rank among the most in college football.

In 2009, Sumlin was a finalist for the Paul “Bear” Bryant National Coach of the Year Award after leading the Cougars to a 10-4 record, which included wins over No. 5 Oklahoma State in Stillwater, Okla., and BCS conference teams Texas Tech and Mississippi State. Statistically, UH led the nation in passing (433.7), total (563.4) and scoring offense (42.2). Houston also became just the third team in NCAA history to post a 5,000-yard passer and three 1,000-yard receivers in one season.

Taking over the reins of the UH program in December 2007, Sumlin guided the Cougars to an 8-5 record in 2008 and became the first UH coach in 28 years to lead his team to a bowl victory, as Houston topped Air Force 34-28 in the Armed Forces Bowl. He was one of only 10 first-year Football Bowl Subdivision coaches to guide his team to a bowl game and one of only six to win the bowl contest.

Sumlin went to Houston after seven seasons as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator in the Big 12. He spent five seasons at the University of Oklahoma under head coach Bob Stoops, where he served as both the co-offensive coordinator/wide receivers coach (2006-07) and special teams coordinator/tight ends coach (2003-05).

Before his arrival in Norman, Sumlin spent two seasons at Texas A&M under head coach R.C. Slocum, where he served as the assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach for the Aggies (2001-2002).

During his previous stint in Aggieland, Sumlin coached several of the top receivers in school history, including Bethel Johnson, Terrence Murphy and Jamaar Taylor, who still rank in the top 10 in career catches and receiving yards.

Early in the 2002 season, Slocum promoted Sumlin to offensive play caller after the Aggie offense struggled in the first three games of the season. With Sumlin calling the plays, the Aggie offense flourished, averaging 33.0 points and 419 yards per game for the remainder of the season after posting just 16.0 points and 286 yards per game previously. A highlight of the season included a 30-26 win over top-ranked Oklahoma with the Aggies gaining 404 total yards to key the victory.

Sumlin’s coaching career has also seen stops at his alma mater Purdue (1998-2001), Minnesota (1993-97) and Wyoming (1991-92).

While born in Brewton, he graduated high school in Indiana and earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice from Perdue.

He has four children: Courtney, Shelby, Jackson and Joey.


Sumlin becomes the second Brewton native to hold a head coaching job.

Fred Snowden was the first black coach to lead a major collect men’s basketball team when the school hired him in 1972.