HOUSTON (AP) – Texas A&M has hired Houston’s Kevin Sumlin as its new coach.

A&M athletic director Bill Byrne announced the decision Saturday. He says he believes Sumlin “is the right person to lead our football program into the Southeastern Conference.”

Speculation intensified that Sumlin would move about 100 miles northwest to College Station after A&M fired Mike Sherman. Sumlin was an assistant coach at A&M under R.C. Slocum in 2001-02.

The Aggies (6-6) are scheduled to play Northwestern (6-6) in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston on Dec. 31, with A&M defensive coordinator Tim DeRuyter serving as interim coach.

It will be the Aggies’ last game as a Big 12 team before moving to the SEC next season.

The Cougars (12-1) play Penn State (9-3) in the TicketCity Bowl in Dallas on Jan. 2 with assistant Tony Levine serving as the interim head coach.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)