Hoover, AL -- Kevin Sumlin chose to smile a lot at the podium at this year's SEC Media Days. Is it Kyle Allen's awarding of the MVP to finish last year's season at the Auto Zone Liberty Bowl? Is it the newly renovated stadium that seats 102,500 people?
No, it's newly hired former LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis.
"We've got to get better. Obviously, we made some changes starting on defense with John Chavis coming in and up front in our offensive line with a new run game coordinator in Dave Christensen," said Sumlin. "So for us, one of our biggest goals in the off-season was to become a tougher team physically and mentally."
"The SEC is not just a line of scrimmage league. It's a line of scrimmage and depth league." - A&M HC Kevin Sumlin— Billy Liucci (@billyliucci) July 14, 2015
Julien Obioha, the senior defensive lineman, also raved about Chavis saying, "I think the immediate difference is probably in 'attacking personality.' You know the first day, he walked in, and he said, 'You do all these workouts and you do all this 7-on-7 in the summer to win a championship.'"
A team last year that went 8-4 in the SEC West, the Aggies are looking to make a splash in Sumlin's fourth year.
Texas A&M will open up the season against Arizona State in a "neutral" site game against Arizona State in Houston, Texas. The Sun Devils, a team that returns 10 starters, will pose a threat to begin the season, but the players are certainly looking forward to it.
Senior center Mike Matthews, the brother of Jake and Kevin, two NFL players, is next in line in the trend. On facing Arizona State week one, he said, "As the days keep getting closer, I get more and more excited every time. My season was cut early last season with the bowl game and my injury. I didn't get to participate in spring football so I'm really excited. We're excited to get things going against Arizona State."
Any distractions, Coach Sumlin? Chavis, is it ture that you called him just before kickoff of the LSU bowl game?
"That's not true, and it hasn't been a distraction to me at all."
At the beginning of his stand at the podium, he'd said he made a promise to his wife not to be combative.
Smiling as he walked off stage, he either was happy he'd help that promise, or happy about his new defensive coordinator, one of the best in college football.