HOUSTON -- Kyle Allen says a frustrating “culture” left over from the Johnny Manziel era is partly to blame for Allen's recent departure from Texas A&M.
Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin saw both Allen and Kyler Murray -- two valued quarterback prospects -- transfer within a week of each other in December. The moves sparked questions -- still left unanswered -- about what was going on in College Station, Texas.
In what is believed to be his most in-depth interview on the subject, Allen detailed to CBS Sports the reasons he left A&M for Houston.
“I think the culture was a big part of it, and I think that stems from Johnny’s era there -- the way that they let Johnny and [others] act there,” said Allen, the No. 1-rated pro-style quarterback in the 247Sports Composite for 2014. “They [could] do that and still win games because they had Johnny … and five offensive linemen playing in the NFL right now.”
Allen added: “A lot of people were riding off that, ‘I can do whatever the hell I want and win on Saturday.’"
Manziel’s off-field issues and discipline problems have been well-documented. In that 2012 Heisman Trophy-winning season, Manziel was known as much for his partying as his play. Since that season, 10 Aggies have been drafted, the most from the program in a three-year period since 2005.
The momentum created by that success drew both Allen and Murray to College Station. Both started games for Texas A&M in 2015, a season that ended with a second consecutive 8-5 finish for the Aggies.
“When you don’t have players like Johnny and [others] there anymore, you have to really come together as a team and scrap for wins,” Allen said.
“We had a lot of people who were talking about the same goal but weren’t all committed and on the same page to get to that goal," Allen said.
“For you to win in the SEC -- especially the SEC West -- 10 games a year and be a controlling powerhouse in that conference, you can’t have a bunch of people going different ways.
“Everyone wasn’t in a straight line. Everyone was going this way, this way, this way. We had a ton of talent there. I think that, once you get all the right coaches there and get the vision right, you can do a lot of things.”
CBS Sports reached out to Texas A&M on Tuesday morning for a response to Allen's comments but had not heard back at the time of publication.
Allen went on to say former A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital is an “awesome dude,” but he only briefly referred to coach Kevin Sumlin.
“Usually, you see Houston as a stepping stone for most coaches, just like Coach Sumlin was from Houston to A&M,” Allen said. “I think the university is trying to change that.”
Sumlin left Houston after four season, concluding his Cougars career with a 12-1 finish in 2011. Tom Herman went 13-1 in his first season with Houston in 2015 and was recently rewarded with a five-year, $15 million contract.
Allen was philosophical about Herman being one of the hottest coaches in the country.
“A major reason I’m here is because of him and [offensive coordinator Major Applewhite],” he said. “From what I’ve learned in college football in just watching stuff, you can’t really count on a coach [to stay]. It’s life, you know. If he gets offered $20 million to go coach at Ohio State … you can’t blame him [for leaving].”
In two seasons with the Aggies, Allen played in 20 games and threw for more than 3,500 yards and 33 touchdowns. After sitting out 2016, he will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Murray transferred to Oklahoma and will also be eligible in 2017 after a year on the sidelines.
Allen was asked about his prospects transferring from a Power Five to a Group of Five program, especially considering he did not just leave any Power Five team -- Texas A&M’s stadium and surrounding facilities are considered among the best in the country.
“At the end of the day, football is still football,” Allen said. “It helps recruiting a lot [at a Power Five program]. Our big player lounge [at A&M], our big scoreboard -- it’s a recruiting tool. But when it comes down to it, at some level, it can hurt a team.
“Having all of that at such a young age, we didn’t do much to deserve that. I don’t think I realized it until I got here.”
Houston has invested millions lately into both football and basketball. The Cougars are heading into their third season in the $120 million TDECU Stadium. Basketball coach Kelvin Sampson has a new practice facility.
Herman had established a relationship with Allen having previously recruited the signal caller while serving as Ohio State's offensive coordinator. Allen transferred to Houston without setting foot on campus.
“For him to make that leap is a bit unique,” Herman said.