Dennis Franchione is an enigma wrapped in a riddle, coaching at a school that is a Rubik's cube wrapped in overalls. Once one of the most sought after and well regarded college football coaches around, the bloom quickly fell off of Franchione's A&M rose as if Lady Reveille had been purposefully farting on it. His first three years yielded a smooth 16-18 record and Franchione introduced the A&M faithful to new and unique humiliations on the football field and demonstrated a personna that made Texas fan's smirk; we knew this guy - A&M had landed their John Mackovic.
Or have they? On the heels of a 9-4 season with a win over hated tee-yew, Franchione has been less of a cold-blooded eel of late, even offering OU's program some friendly light jibes at an alumni function, forcing a thin-skinned Bob Stoops to expose his raw chafed vagina at Big 12 media day in response. The Aggie faithful are feeling good again and formerly cowed Aggie work colleagues who "weren't into football" are suddenly reinvigorated, signing all of their e-mails 12-7 Whoop!!!!!!
Stephen McGee - who looks like James Van Der Beek dipped in a vat of Human Growth Hormone - is now a buffed out 230 pounds and is still trying to figure out if he's Scott Frost - a fearless running QB who can throw a little, or Drew Henson - an up and down passing QB who can run. He is undoubtedly a tough guy and the Aggies regard him as the spiritual successor to Bucky Richardson, The Patron Saint of Gutty. Stephen played last year with a torn tricep which, when combined with the beatings of Fran's option attack, had him skipping passes along the turf like stones on Lake Conroe. In order to heal the arm, Franchione ordered him to stop flexing in his offseason media photos. He hasn't complied but has healed nicely nonetheless.
The OL reminds me of Texas '98 - tough, physical, not exactly bursting with 1st round NFL talents, but full of a lot of dudes who have started a lot of football games. They're solid across the board and deserve their accolades.
A&M's WRs are large, fast, full of potential...and...shitty - continuing A&M's long tradition at that position. I'll laugh when they all test out at 4.35 40s at the combine. TE is a different story. Martellus Bennett is an outstanding blocker who murders people at the point of the attack but still has the athletic skills to find a safety in space and bury him. His receiving has come along as well. The guy is a great, not good, player. That he's not used more in play action off of the option is criminal.
Goodson and Lane are known quantities to any Big 12 fan. I don't need to tell you that one is fat, but nimble and the other is speedy, but flatulent. They are the Asterix and Obelix of college football. Menhirs!
The defense will be average, though the magazines will try to convince you that their "experienced" mediocre guys have potential. The front 4 is more space eater than playmaker though Chris Harrington is quality at DE. The two LB's are an interesting pair - Mark Dodge is a 54 year old Vietnam Veteran; Misi Tupe is a 250 pound ball of poi who who hits hard in a straight line and has a secret fancy for Kabuki. The secondary, once full of mincing faggots, now has more free testosterone flowing than estrogen, though no one is rushing to place them on any All-America teams. A&M's defensive evolution from putrid to below average to respectable has been notable, though I'm not seeing guys in the program pipeline who will elevate them beyond that.
There isn't a single team on the 2007 schedule that A&M can't beat. This is good news for the Aggie faithful. Unfortunately for them, there are seven teams on the A&M schedule that have at least a reasonable chance of beating them: Miami, OU, Mizzou, Nebraska, Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma St. This will be a better team - even if it duplicates last year's 9-4 season or limps to an unlikely 8-5 debacle.
As for the future of the program, A&M is securely locked in as the 3rd most desirable option for recruits in the Big 12 South. Fran's response to that fact has been to recruit faithfully to their system and hope that UT continues to hire defensive coordinators as clueless about defending the option as Gene Chizik while continuing to start QBs with poor neuromuscular constitution; then steal a few rivalry games to get the recruiting worm to turn. Assuming we secure the services of a junior high coach to scheme the option and Colt McCoy can keep his synapses functioning appropriately, this may not be a good plan. Franchione's 2006 rivalry win fed A&M's delusional bonfire of grandeur and inflated expectations, but a 45-10 Holiday Bowl blowout at the hands of the Berkeley Marxist-Leninists was a swift punch to the cock and brought Aggies back to their natural state of unrestrained optimism tempered by deep insecurity.
Lucy has pulled the football from their Charlie Brown many times, but there is no fanbase in the country more willing to embrace the notion that this time it will be different. God love them, that's why they're Aggies and why they'll always get more of a chuckle from me than a snarl. They're just Aggies. Being Aggies. Whoop.
I heart them.