Texas A&M came into 2014 with “rebuild” stamped on the team in red ink. The school lost its Heisman-winning quarterback, his favorite target, a top offensive lineman and several other key players all over the depth chart.

Kevin Sumlin, of course, rejected the notion that the Aggies were rebuilding in 2014, despite the obvious signs pointing to just that.

“We don’t have time for a bunch of rebuilding years,” Sumlin said at last summer’s SEC Media Days.

What the coach said next was telling.

“There will be another guy standing up here real quick.”

That’s the nature of college football. Once a coach gets a gig at a major program, he only has a few years to prove he belongs. At that point, there are only two options: an extension or a termination. Sumlin earned an extension after the 2013 season, his second at Texas A&M, and it bumped him up into the top of the pay scale in college football.

While other coaches in the SEC — Kentucky’s Mark Stoops, Tennessee’s Butch Jones, Arkansas’ Bret Bielema — have gotten extensions after their second year on the job, none of them carries the same pressure Sumlin does. That’s what happens when you come painfully close to a BCS game your first year on campus and put up just as staggering of an offensive performance the next year.

Big things will be expected of the Aggies over the next two years. We already took a look at the Aggies defense; with John Chavis now riding shotgun and two straight talented recruiting classes on board, the Aggies should shoot up out of the SEC’s basement.

On the offensive side of the ball, Sumlin’s specialty, A&M looks poised to return to its Manziel-era height of terror. Sumlin has his quarterback, rising sophomore Kyle Allen, and if he doesn’t live up to expectations then incoming freshman Kyler Murray should be ready to seize the opportunity — if he passes on playing professional baseball. The skill positions are loaded, especially at wide receiver, and the Aggies brought in the offensive line recruits necessary to get back some of the edge they lost with a slew of recent first round picks.

As all the talent of Sumlin’s recent recruiting efforts matures and takes control of the team, we’ll find out just how good he is. Sumlin’s already proven himself to be an excellent coach; now, he’s set to prove he’s worth the championship-level salary he draws from Texas A&M.

To be clear, Sumlin’s job likely won’t be in jeopardy at any point during 2015. He’ll still have a big chunk of his contract owed to him after the 2015 season (four years and about $20 million), a tough pill to swallow even for the deepest pockets.

But it’s getting to be time for him to match what he did in 2012 and 2013. A repeat of 2014 would be a huge disappointment for a slew of reasons. The Aggies have the resources to be one of the most improved teams in the SEC in 2015 and beyond.

If that’s not the case, Sumlin’s seat gets significantly warmer heading into 2016. So far, his highest heights have been achieved with a team built mostly on the previous regime’s recruits. Sumlin’s fingerprints are now all over this roster, with the last remnants of Mike Sherman’s recruiting efforts gone.

He’ll need to prove that his way can work in the SEC, and this year and next will be the defining touchstones of that legacy.