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Kevin Sumlin Has Plenty Of Options With Texas A&M, Arizona State And Houston

It's clear that whoever signs Sumlin is going to have to endorse a blank check of sorts to bring him in. He's the best and brightest among a group that's mostly retreads.

HOUSTON - OCTOBER 22:  Head coach Kevin Sumlin of the Houston Cougars  during action against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Robertson Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
HOUSTON - OCTOBER 22: Head coach Kevin Sumlin of the Houston Cougars during action against the Marshall Thundering Herd at Robertson Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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Kevin Sumlin has options. Lots of them. The question, at this point, seems not to be whether or not he will jump from Houston but to where.

A myriad of teams are making official coaching changes -- or at least clearing house -- a bit early before the conference championships are played and bowl season begins in order to get a leg up on the hiring process. After all, a coach has to not only say goodbye to his former employer and adjust to a new city, school, staff and all of the accoutrements; he also has to round out his own coaching staff, evaluate his team, and quickly jump into recruiting mode wearing a new hat. Thus, the athletic directors are wanting to get the earliest possible jump on the rest of the desperate losers.

Thus Sumlin is this year's hot young head coach. His Cougars are undefeated and ranked No. 7 in the AP Poll (and No. 6 in the USA Today/Coaches Poll). They're on the fringe of a major BCS payout. In four years at Houston, Sumlin's teams have gone 35-16, going 1-1 in bowl games. It's clear that Sumlin is best positioned to move now more than ever from Conference USA to the ranks of elite competition. It's just a matter of which option he will take.

The word is already out from the Arizona Republic that Arizona State has offered him the job vacated by Dennis Erickson. Texas A&M is likely to jump in as well after firing Mike Sherman after four years. Houston is also trying to work out an extension for Sumlin to hold onto the coach who's brought them into the national picture, but that's not likely unless he wants to pull a Chris Petersen and try to steady Houston toward an unlikely sustainable future with the big boys of college football.

If he's going to take the step from Houston, Texas A&M seems a great place for him to land. Any Texas-based recruiting contacts stay in the picture and he's going to be most known in local territory -- rather than head to a Pac-12 team as "the small school coach from somewhere around Texas or Wyoming or Indiana." Yet amid familiar territory, he'd also enjoy the blank slate of leading the Aggies into the SEC -- likely enjoying more power, money and recruiting possibilities than any coach in A&M's recent history.

It's likely that a few more jobs will come his way. Perhaps Kansas will come calling. Maybe Ole Miss will get in touch as well. There are a number of schools who will need someone, but Texas A&M is the best of the bunch for Sumlin. At the very least, he gets to call the shots, so it's clear that whoever signs Sumlin is going to have to endorse a blank check of sorts to bring him in. He's the best and brightest among a group that's mostly retreads.