The Aggies have perfected the art of bungling the simplest of tasks. These feats are legendary and well documented in Internet Halls of Fame. More difficult processes, such as hiring and firing head coaches, changing conferences, eradicating bat guano, etc. also befuddle the Aggies but in a much more subtle and intriguing fashion than the de facto 4th quarter meltdown.
We know the Aggies can fuck up a ham sandwich, but deconstructing their attempt at cooking a Chateaubriand and hoping it comes out resembling human food is far more fascinating. Over the past week, as Bill Byrne and R. Bowen Loftin argued over how Aggies would want the meal to taste, it turns out Governor Rick Perry, Jim Wilson and other A&M Regents said fuck it and called in Whataburger.
"We'll take the Lateral Coaching Hire combo meal with a side of Desperation, and free refills of Spite. To go, please. To the SEC! Whoop!"
He-Man once said that just because you have the power doesn't mean you use it wisely. Or something. Although they want you to think otherwise, Perry and the BOR basically settled for the fast & easy hire, like getting qualified for a Countrywide home loan in 2007. Except it didn't turn out to be fast or easy. Did the Aggie brass really think a young guy with four years of experience as a head coach in Conference USA coming off a highly publicized loss was really going to appease the Old Guard? Bill Byrne isn't even impressed, not that he was consulted in the matter.
From the late season meltdown, losing to Texas on a last second field goal, to the costly and embarrassing dismissal of Mike Sherman, this is just the latest episode of Who Has the Keys to the Aggie Clown Car?, the greatest show on The Longhorn Network you've never seen. Presidential biographers can only sit back and admire the level of political chicanery going on at TAMU these days. We are witnessing a high water mark for Aggie dysfunction, with the fuel of a top ten ranking preseason ranking and high expectations only fanning the fire. And to that Aggie co-worker who leaves 5-7 post it notes on your desk? Let her know that Texas fans are still figuring out how to digest the spoiled goat blood enema that was 12-12 over the past two seasons, but a crystally reminder from 2005 probably sits somewhere nearby on your desk or wall.
There's not much still around from 1939. It's all relative.
27-25 Changed Everything
After a few days of sifting through the typical bullshit that accompanies any high pressure coaching hire: irrational fan expectations, shitty reporting, delusional hyperbole, MUST ACT NOW URGENCY!, and the lack of a unified succession plan in general; our research concludes that Sumlin was their guy all along, even before Sherman was fired. Then Southern Miss swooped into Houston and kicked Cougar ass up and down the field. Sumlin paced the sideline looking nonplussed, feigning interest in the game for a few quarters until the Cougar mascot was unmercifully sacrificed on a spike at midfield with a few minutes in the game. Sumlin didn't blink. UH faithful and Aggie Power Brokers watched with increasing anxiety as Southern Miss went up
one two three TDs until it was pretty obvious his foot had been out the door weeks ago, on cruise control searching for a new job. But which one?
With at least 10 promising openings in the FBS, surely Case Keenum's senior Heisman campaign and an undefeated season could deliver Sumlin a high profile coaching job. It was a slam dunk until he lost the only meaningful contest of the season in spectacularly bad fashion, one that would have earned UH it's first BCS berth and its beleaguered conference an $18 million payday, some prominent Aggie boosters decided they could do better and only the best need apply.
They got one part of it right.
A&M could have hired a better coach, perhaps one with a defensive pedigree, but they didn't actually interview any new candidates. Not with the intent of actually hiring them anyway.
If you followed the Tales from Texags over the past two weeks, the coaching search process went down like this:
- After reciting every Aggie Hymn to perfection while naked and blindfolded encircled by a froth of corps turds and yell leaders, Nick Saban failed to impress those that mattered and went back to Tuscaloosa, forked tail between his legs.
- Despite producing game film breakdowns of the 100 worst Aggie losses in team history, as well as impossibly specific game plans on how to humiliate every team on the Aggie schedule through 2018, Bill Belichik was passed over. Tom Brady let out a sigh of relief, then winked at his manicurist.
- Chris Petersen performed the first known act of time travel by a head coach, simultaneously attending the College Football Awards show while also displaying his XBOX skills on NCAA FOOTBALL 2011, beating Texas by a score of 465-3 in a Board of Regent's College Station living room. Petersen was playing against the Regent's teenage son, who had never lost as long as he was allowed to play with Texas, which was only on his birthday and holidays. It was Hannukah. Unfortunately (or perhaps, fortunately) a failed two point conversion by Petersen in the 4th quarter that would have put the Aggies up by the mathematically insurmountable lead of 464 points left an awkward silence in the room, causing Petersen to dive out an open window, never to be seen in College Station again.
- The next day (Thursday? Friday? What space/time continuum does an A&M coaching search exist in?), Mark Richt presented an impressively boring case for how he might have better failed in those close 4th quarter contests under the same circumstances. As compelling as the evidence was, real Aggie fans knew this was mere sideshow. Richt is just another average coach in the SEC whose wife hates Texas. Too Muschampy.
That's Billy Liucci's story anyway.
Apparently the Aggies needed something entirely new and different: Generation 3%er.
CTL + ALT + DEL
In talking to a few maroon cigarillos, the Sumlin hire dragged out for an entire week to make it look like A&M had vetted out every option before announcing their guy, who at first glance from both Aggie faithful and innocent bystanders appeared to be a lateral move at best. Liucci, Granato, and other "media" tied to the A&M program reported that Petersen and Richt were both offered $4+ million. Both coaches deny talking with A&M. Even if their agents did, Petersen turns down a $4 million offer from a BCS school every few weeks. More importantly, these theoretical talks were underway after a deal with Sumlin was already in the works. That sends a nice message to your new coach, doesn't it?
Somewhere along the way a power struggle came into play between Perry, the BOR, and prominent boosters funding this footballing Hindenburg. The main point of contention with the BOR was what happens to the rest of the A&M staff if Sumlin is their guy. And It's pretty clear to any head coach candidate who is running the program in College Station right now...
"Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chameleooooon, I told you so, they come and goooooo".
When Urban Meyer was announced as the new head coach in Columbus, he was basically given the keys to the entire state of Ohio, including all cities, universities, and natural resources therein, limited as they may be. He might as well be Governor, where as Ricky Perry might as well be a coach. Politics aside, thems the facts.
Kevin Sumlin is just getting an office and all of his old maroon clothes back.
It's fair to say the rest of the Cougar staff won't be relocating to College Station. The UH defense, while improved under Brian Stewart (a former assistant with the Eagles and Cowboys), just got shredded by Southern Miss in the only game of the year that mattered. The BOR, through their new mouthpiece, will likely replace Tim Deruyter (with Sumlin's blessing, naturally) and probably a few other assistants. Byrne and Loftin will find out a few days later by certified telegram. Why not go after Mike Stoops, the guy that shut you out 77-0 in the most humiliating loss of all time?
At Least He's a Winner ... Wait. HullabaWHO?!
There's no denying the trajectory of Kevin Sumlin's career path. It certainly compares favorably to, say, Dennis Franchione or Mike Price. It does generally travel upward, which is what you want.
Texas A&M (legacy!)
That's a fairly impressive slope from assistant roles to head coach, but let's be real - Sumlin got this job because he's Not Mike Sherman. Young, energetic, black coach on the rise vs. a nap-prone, conservative white grandpa nearing retirement that Packers fans still hate. Personality goes a long way. By most accounts, Kevin Sumlin is a really likable guy. Sherman was boring. Franchione was a mortician disguised as a coach. At least RC Slocum played defense.
But hasn't Sumlin at least won some big games? Isn't that a requisite arrow in every Top 20 candidate's coaching quiver?
In three career bowl games and the recent conference championship game, Sumlin is 1-3, with losses to East Carolina, Air Force, and Southern Miss. Two skills a coach heading to the SEC must have, unless you want to end up next to Vanderbilt or Kentucky, are the ability to recruit and to field a competitive defense -- traits that are glaringly absent on Kevin Sumlin's résumé.
2008 31.2 pts per game (7th in CUSA), 419 yards per game (8th in CUSA)
2009 28.8 pts per game (6th in CUSA), 443 yards per game (8th in CUSA)
2010 32.2 pts per game (8th in CUSA), 433 yards per game (8th in CUSA)
2011 23.1 pts per game (5th in CUSA), 386 yards per game (3rd in CUSA)
Turner Gill thinks this is a perfectly acceptable display of progress.
The Cougars' success has come from outscoring less talented opponents with an advanced spread scheme installed by Art Briles in 2006, then tweaked by Dana Holgorsen before he left for Stillwater in 2010. The scheme has been humming since 2006 under current NFL QB Kevin Kolb and future NFL QB Case Keenum (under current OC Kliff Kingsbury). Sumlin inherited an ideal situation and it's no coincidence that the year Keenum went down with an injury the Coogs went 5-7. So how will Sumlin fare with an A&M team next year playing in the hardest division of the super hardest conference in college football, that loses most of its elite offensive talent to graduation or the NFL, and fields a defense that redefined the word "collapse" in six exciting new ways this year?
Squeeze harder, Ags.
Kevin Sumlin didn't recruit one four or five-star player on any OU roster. In fact, he didn't really recruit at all. Yet he's supposed to fend off elite Texas talent from UT, OU, TCU, Tech, and Baylor AND invade southeast recruiting beds? That's going to take an army of Trooper Taylors driving maroon SUV stretch limos.
Sumlin's first order of business will be to plug the inevitable leaks in the recruiting raft, which is still floating down the Brazos nicely but could take on water fast if any of Trey Williams, Matt Davis or Bralon Addison start taking other visits, as we expect to happen once High School playoffs wrap up. The calls are coming and they're starting to listen. More on that soon over on the 'Cosm.
So here's your first test of the Sumlin era, Aggie faithful:
Which of these tasks seem remotely possible in the short term?
A. Fix the defense!
B. Compete with Saban and Miles on the recruiting trail!
C. Keep the current class intact!
D. Wear Maroon!
E. Beat tu!
Final answer, please.
D, for donkey fucked.