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July 17, 2013HOOVER | In the hurricane of attention that enveloped Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel at SEC Media Days, Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin was the calm eye of the storm.
"For me, I don't see it as being about one player," Sumlin said. "When you talk about hype and expectations, you are dealing with an entire team."
There is a great deal of hype surrounding this Aggie team, coming off an 11-2 season. They do have issues, including replacing first-round draft choice Luke Joeckel on the offensive line and rebuilding a defense that lost five starters. But most of the questions, inevitably, were about his Heisman Trophy-winning sophomore quarterback.
"On the field, he has done an excellent job," Sumlin said. "The nation spoke, the writers spoke, about the job he did on the field. Off the field, he has made some mistakes. He's not perfect. But we aren't perfect as a program. He'll learn from this.
"If (Manziel) doesn't have the numbers that he had a year ago, that doesn't mean that he has had a bad year."
Sumlin admits that the attention level has changed from a year ago, when the Aggies were an unknown commodity in the SEC. Now, their Sept.14 game against Alabama is expected to be the premier game in the country, not just the Southeastern Conference.
"When you have a team that has made a jump, that is competitive, then everything is amplified," Sumlin said. "The atmosphere is very different than it was a year ago. We've made that jump to be relevant in a great conference."
The Aggies also have to deal with replacing offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury, who left College Station to become the head coach at Texas Tech.
"We feel very fortunate to have had a number of coaches leve our program to become head coaches," Sumlin said. "We've developed a culture that helps people become head coaches, and we wish Kliff well."
Deal ends 08.31.13