Texas A&M’s game against UCLA had everything. It had an electrifying first half for Texas A&M and it had an unbelievable second half for UCLA. This game even had a pimp cane.
Aggies’ mood at the half pic.twitter.com/y6OnK58oI3
— ESPN CollegeFootball (@ESPNCFB) September 4, 2017
In the end, Josh Rosen and UCLA erased a 34-point deficit to beat the Aggies 45-44 in the closing seconds of the game.
For Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, this game encapsulated what his Aggie career has become known for in the SEC and that is complete meltdowns. Texas A&M started 2016 off with a 6-0 start only to finish the season at 8-5. 2015 was similar as the Aggies started off 5-0 and then limped to a record of 8-5. The story was the same in 2014 as Sumlin shot out of the gate with a 5-0 record only to finish with a record of 8-5. The best year in the SEC for Texas A&M was 2013 when the Aggies went 9-4.
Sumlin’s Aggies have become notorious for fast starts and broken down finishes. The loss and performance against UCLA could have come against just about any other team and it would have been easier to accept. Jim Mora Jr. is one of those coaches, like Sumlin, who seems to always do less with more. Don’t forget, as these teams went into halftime, UCLA fans were ready to fire Mora on the spot. By the end of the game, everyone was proclaiming Josh Rosen to be The Chosen One and it was Sumlin’s job that was up for debate.
It’s one thing for fans and social media experts to call for a coach’s job. Everyone not named Saban is arguably on the hot-seat. But placing a coach on the hot-seat takes on a completely different dynamic when a Board of Regents member, Tony Buzbee, is the one issuing the lack of confidence vote.
— Justin 🤠 (@IDontRentPigs) September 4, 2017
What Buzbee saw against UCLA is what all of us witnessed from 2014-2016 and that is an inability for Sumlin’s teams to finish. Not only that, but Buzbee’s statement opens a can of worms against Sumlin that many people were already quietly grumbling about; maneuvering for a more lucrative contract (in the face of under performance), the mishandling of player controversies, and the inability to develop the premier recruits that Sumlin brought to College Station.
Buzbee is only one vote, but he can’t possibly be the only Board of Regents member who feels this way. And even if he is the only Board of Regent who currently feels this way, which I doubt, you know he is talking with the other members to get them on his side. Sure, Sumlin has a huge salary but scraping together the money to buy-out his contract is doable. And Buzbee and his cohorts can come up with the money to hire a guy like Chip Kelly or Les Miles. It’s Texas. It’s football. They’ll make it happen.
$11.25 million: Kevin Sumlin’s current buyout. Texas A&M’s deal must pay him entire contract owed within 60 days if it lets him go.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) September 4, 2017
I’ll say this in defense of Sumlin; Texas A&M offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone and defensive coordinator John Chavis are getting off the hook easy after the loss to UCLA.
The Aggies were running at-will against UCLA in the first half. There was no reason to stop running especially with a 34-point lead. But that’s what seemed to happen. And it’s not like the Aggies were having success passing the ball.
Looking at the final stats, A&M ran for 382 yards but completed 9-of-30 passes. Kellen Mond, likely the guy going forward, finished 3-of-17.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) September 4, 2017
A&M took a 34 point lead with 4 minutes left in the 3Q and ran the ball 7 times the rest of the game
— Jake Nazar (@ATVS_JakeNazar) September 4, 2017
John Chavis is a highly respected defensive coordinator, but his second half defense was a complete dumpster fire. Chavis’ defense allowed Rosen to orchestrate a miraculous comeback that was capped off with a fake spike touchdown pass. To add additional insult to this mind numbing loss is that the Texas A&M defense fell for the fake spike even though the clock was already stopped.
Josh Rosen Fake Spike TD! What a comeback!! pic.twitter.com/jYMYw4TQXH
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) September 4, 2017
This loss to UCLA was a total team effort. Responsibility not only falls on Sumlin but also Chavis, Mazzone, and the players. But Sumlin is the head coach so ultimately the responsibility rests on his shoulders. I’m seldom in favor of in season coaching changes and I’m not advocating for Sumlin to be let go today. Having said that, Sumlin was on a simmering seat before the season started and now at least one Board of Regent is publicly casting his lack of confidence vote. Another 8-win season isn’t going to cut-it in College Station. I’d be surprised to see Sumlin still employed the day after the final 2017 game. Short of winning the SEC, I don’t see how he is still at Texas A&M in 2018.
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E-mail Seth at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @SethMerenbloom.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons