Mills, Sumarah, Proctor speak candidly about the “Saint Mary’s situation”

Jesse Mills is conflicted.

The star quarterback for the Saint Mary’s Huskies (SMU) is uncertain of what he will do next season and the coaching situation at the university is not making it any easier for him.

“As of right now I am keeping all my options open, and I believe it is important to do so at a time like this,” explains Mills, who was a former Citadel Phoenix pivot. “I am not happy with what’s going on down there.”

“We are far behind in recruiting, no guidance in terms of leadership, and to be honest I don’t see where this program is headed from here. If they really wanted the best for the football program they shouldn’t have fired Steve(Sumarah) in the first place.”

The head coaching position at SMU became vacant on December 5th 2011, when the university said it would not be renewing the contract of Steve Sumarah. His contract was set to expire on March 1, 2012.

Sumarah was released after being in the position for seven years (regular season record 29-12, AUS final record 4-3). During his tenure, SMU reached the Vanier Cup in 2007 but lost to Manitoba Bisons in the final. Sumarah was the first Nova Scotian born head coach in the CIS.

Like Mills and many other people in the football circles, Sumarah is watching with keen interest as to the drama unfolding at SMU. He says that there are certain people in particular who are affected by the lack of direction or leadership in the SMU Huskies football program.

“All this has gone down and I do believe the process at Saint Mary’s taking as long as it has, has affected a lot of student-athletes at Saint Mary’s,” says Sumarah. “They’re wondering what’s happening, what’s going on.”

“There are a lot of rumours, a lot of innuendos but I think by the sounds of it, there’s no one giving out the hard cold facts of what is going on.”

Yesterday, SMU communications manager Steve Proctor issued a press release regarding an update on the football coach search. In the release, it says the university is almost at the end of their search. Moreover, SMU has interviewed many people for the position and the human resources process is ongoing.

“We are delighted by the interest people have shown in the process,” says Proctor. “The enthusiasm shows the keen interest the Huskies generate within the University and the community beyond.”

“The selection process can be long and involved. It is important that the University carry out a thorough review of all available information. That is where the process stands at this point. The human resources team is assessing information gathered during the interview process. A recommendation is expected within days.”

Also, Proctor addresses the issue regarding recruiting and when an announcement maybe made regarding the new coach.

“We understand the coach needs to be in place soon to carry on recruiting and we hope to be able to make an announcement sooner rather than later,” adds Proctor.

Aside from the coaching vacancy, there have been a lot of rumours this week circulating about Mills jumping ship to reunite with Sumarah at Carleton. Mills gives his side of the story.

“In terms of the rumors about heading to Carleton, I have spoken with Carleton and the owner of the Sooners, and if I were to take that path it would be an awesome opportunity to be a part of the building process and be in a great city,” comments Mills.

When asked about the prospects of landing the star pivot at Carleton and whether they’ve had any discussions about the opportunity, Sumarah says that the two have had a long standing relationship which has extended to both families.

“I think the biggest thing with Jesse was that you know that people don’t realize or sometimes forget recruiting is about the relationships and I have been recruiting Jesse and his family, since that is part of the process since grade 11,” explains the Carleton Ravens head coach. “We’ve developed a very good rapport and Amanda (Sumarah’s wife) and Jesse’s mom, Jennifer have become very good friends through all of this.”

“It’s been a constant ongoing thing.”

When Sumarah was released by SMU, many players including Mills contacted the former coach to lend their support.

“When things happened to me in that part of December, guys like Jesse were reaching out to the people they know and trust, which is about recruiting,” adds Sumarah.

Overall, the Ravens head coach says at the end of the day, Jesse wants what’s best for his football career.

“All that being said, I think at the end of the day, Jesse looked at the options that were around and thought it was best to move forward and basically come to Carleton,” says Sumarah.

For Mills, not all is lost with the Huskies. He takes away the positives from his first year with the team.

“My first year at Saint Mary’s was more than I expected it to be,” says the star quarterback. “It was a great experience.”

“I love all the coaches and players down there, but in the end everyone has to do what’s right for them.”

(Photo credits Saint Mary’s University Huskies Football Website, Eric Wynne, the Chronicle Herald, Versus Football Website)

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