Untucking Fate: 40 Yards of Alternate History

Darren Carroll

What if I told you Justin Tucker was the best thing that ever happened to Fighting Texas Aggie football? That the 40 yards straight down the middle set in motion a chain of events as fantastic as it is was improbable. That our 'Horns may have walked off with the scoreboard, but our neighbors in College Station ran away with the show.

Not convinced one fateful kick can change everything? Let's imagine for a moment what might have happened if Tucker had not.

It's November 24th, 2011 and the nightmare is on for the home crowd. After shooting themselves in the foot all night, Texas A&M's fragile lead hangs in the balance after Case McCoy scrambles the 'Horns into field goal range. The second largest crowd in Kyle Field history can only watch as Tucker slams a booming kick towards the goalpost.

It misses. Wide right by 6 inches.

Pandemonium erupts. The 12th Man storms the field as Sherman is carried off on the shoulders of his players. The Houston Chronicle reads "S-E-C You Later" the following day. The scoreboard is enshrined in the corps mess hall.

The Aggies ride the euphoria through bowl season to a respectable 8-5. And despite fading late several times during the season, the athletic department reaffirms their belief in Coach Sherman. After all - how does one fire the coach that got you scoreboard?

An unfocused 'Horns team finishes with an uninspired bowl performance. Case McCoy, his scramble all but forgotten, announces he will transfer. Texas enters the off-season a miserable 6-7.

Meanwhile, the A&M off-season focuses on replacing current Brown's QB Ryan Tannehill (the Sherman-less Dolphins trade up for RG3). It's a four way race that quickly narrows to two - redshirt Sophomore Jameill Showers and freshman Johnny Manziel. Sherman opts for experience and names Showers the starter.

The Aggies begin their season on College Gameday with a loss against Florida. The offense finds itself over-matched as it tries to run the ball directly at the strength of the Florida D. Much of the second half is spent talking about SEC speed.

SMU and South Carolina State bring easy wins. A hapless Arkansas fares no better, but A&M stalls in Oxford when a surprising Ole Miss team simply outscores the Aggies 27-14. The script repeats itself the following week when LaTech, despite awful defensive play, torches the Farmers 57-42.

The next week A&M loses a low scoring affair to LSU. Their offense is shut down the first 3 quarters before Sherman hands the reigns to Manziel, who takes off for a late TD run. Despite calls for change, Sherman stands by Flowers, whom he believes is a better fit for the offense and less of a wildcard.

The Aggies lose a low scoring affair to LSU, but a win against awful Auburn helps take the focus off Flowers. However, the week's bigger news is UT's embarrassing loss to Kansas when Ash struggles and there is no help from the bench.

Manziel dresses up as Scooby Doo for Halloween. It doesn't make the paper.

The Aggies escape Mississippi State late in a defensive slug-fest. The offense is holding the team back. Predictably, the woes continue against #1 Alabama despite a heroic goal line stand early. A tired Sherman names Manziel the starter for next week.

The Aggies easily defeat Sam Houston State then pull out a "quality" win against Mizzou. There's talk on TexAgs that Manziel could become the QB Sherman needs, provided he gets his happy feet fixed of course.

Ultimately, the Aggies enter the bowl season at 7-5, but decide to hold onto Sherman. No one expected the first SEC year to be pretty, and there's been some promise late. It doesn't hurt that UT also finished 7-5 and is flooding the market with cash on the heels of Mack Brown's "retirement" announcement after failing to reach 8 wins three years in a row.

The house money is on Texas luring long term object of affection Chris Petersen out of Boise St, but there has been a late push for Arizona Sate's head coach after he quickly turned around the program in his first year. The only question remains can Kevin Sumlin be "Texas Good."

---

Back in the real world things have obviously gone quite differently. Sumlin's got the Ags humming and I personally believe we are about to see the first ever freshman win the Heisman. What a world.

This is what I love about college football. How fate can turn on a dime. How one moment can change the course of a program. The NFL has the draft as a course corrector, but college football thrives on risk and momentum. It's as infuriating as it is exciting.

The Kick put A&M in a situation where they needed to roll the dice and they rolled it hard. A new conference. A new coach. A freshman QB. When has that ever been a recipe for success? The height of A&M's gamble was only match by the potential reward. Only time will tell if they pulled it off, but the early returns sure are impressive.

The game has changed, and we may need a little dice rolling of our own to get back into it.

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