Tag Archives: Texas A&M Aggies

Jimbo Fisher’s Impact on Texas

In case you missed it, Texas A&M emptied the bank recently by hiring former Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher to a 10-year, $75 million deal, which is reportedly fully guaranteed. There’s no doubt this is a flashy hire the program needed, and time will tell whether Fisher earns his paycheck. Credit the Aggies…they needed a big hire like this and they swung for the fences and landed one of the top college coaches in the countries, and only one of four current coaches who have won a national championship.

So now that Fisher is going to be heavily recruiting the state of Texas, what does it mean for the Longhorns?

Things just got much more difficult on the recruiting trail, that’s for sure. Tom Herman hasn’t had a lot of difficulties getting the recruits he wants, and A&M was becoming less of a concern with every loss under former head coach Kevin Sumlin. But Fisher is going to be a different animal. The question isn’t going to be if, but rather, when?

I’d be lying if I said Fisher doesn’t have enough connections with Texas High School football coaches. He might or he might not, but since he has the A&M logo on his shirt now, he won’t have a hard time getting high school coaches on his side. I have no doubt Herman can still recruit with some of the best coaches in the country, but A&M not winning anything of significance recently has also helped tremendously.

Now, from an X’s and O’s standpoint, Fisher’s staff is going to be critical to his success on the recruiting trail and on the field. It sounds like Fisher burned every bridge possible as he was exiting Florida State, so there’s a good chance he will have to start from scratch when assembling his staff. This would be a great sign for Texas, as there’s one person on Fisher’s staff at Florida State who could be a difference-maker: Tim Brewster.

Brewster was a long-time coach under Mack Brown and was known for being an outstanding recruiter. He definitely played a huge role in assembling some of the great Texas teams from the mid-2000’s. Herman tried to pluck him away from Florida State when he was hired last year, but Brewster accepted a raise to stay in Tallahassee instead. Now that things may have gone sour with Fisher, is Texas back in play now if Herman wants to make a change or addition on his staff? I would think so, and hope so.

Honestly, though, the only way the Longhorns can counter the Aggies move of hiring Fisher is to win games. They will have recruiting momentum through the early signing period and maybe even through national signing day. But if A&M has a significantly better year on the field in 2018, then the momentum could shift dramatically.

Maybe this hire will be a good thing for Herman. Not that I don’t think he put every ounce of his energy into this season, but now there’s a much greater sense of urgency to win and win right now. It’s unfortunate that these two programs can’t play on the field to settle any arguments about who is better than the other, but that’s exactly what we have to deal with…recruiting battles.

Texas secured their coach for the future last year, and A&M just got theirs as well. The new energy will be good for the A&M program and their frustrated fan base, but Texas fans shouldn’t be nervous just yet. But if the Longhorns decide to lay another egg next season and put together a 6-6 campaign or worse, then you might as well sound the emergency signals in Austin.

Photo: Wikimedia

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Pondering and Power Rating the SEC

It took me a few days to muster up my enthusiasm for college football after the brutal, inexcusable loss in Baton Rouge, and now I am actually now looking forward to the games this weekend. With that, here are my power ratings on the SEC.

  1. Alabama
  2. Georgia
  3. Texas A&M
  4. LSU
  5. Auburn
  6. Kentucky
  7. South Carolina
  8. Florida
  9. Miss State
  10. Ole Miss
  11. Arkansas
  12. Tennessee
  13. Vanderbilt
  14. Missouri

Auburn has a better football team than LSU, but LSU deserves to be rated ahead of AU by virtue of its win on Saturday. That could right itself by season’s end. The Bayou Bengals could have a big letdown this coming Saturday at Ole Miss, and the Rebels had to gain some confidence by whipping Vandy. The bottom 4 teams are utterly miserable, at this point, but Auburn better watch out for Arkansas. The Tigers are beat up and have to be a bit demoralized after the loss to LSU. We’ll see what they’re made of Saturday.

Bama continues to dominate, but Georgia is for real and both teams could be undefeated entering the SEC Championship game. The Bulldogs’ schedule certainly is not daunting although there are some potential pitfalls on there, especially Auburn at Auburn and Georgia Tech in Atlanta.

Texas A&M is a sleeper and has an opportunity to make some noise before it’s all said and done. Watch out for the Aggies.

“Butch Jones is probably coaching his last game as head man of the Vols.”

Kentucky? If it can get by Mississippi State, in Starkville, that could be a springboard to a very good season. The Wildcats could even make a New Year’s Day bowl game.

Conversely, if State beats Kentucky its record would be 5-2 and the Bulldogs might be poised for a run in its last 5 games. Games with Texas A&M and Alabama would loom large. The fact-of-the-matter is, State will not beat Alabama and it is doubtful to come home with a win in College Station. But win the others and that would put them at an impressive 8-4.

Cock-a-doodle-do! South Carolina is also sporting a 5-2 record and don’t forget that one of those wins came against a very good North Carolina State team. Georgia, Florida and Clemson are huge obstacles to a sterling season in Columbia.

Over in the other Columbia, the Missouri Tigers are truly stinking the woods up with a 1-5 record at its halfway point in 2017. There are a few potential wins left on the Tigers’ slate, most notably this Saturday versus Idaho and the following weekend at UConn. But Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Arkansas are winnable games for Mizzou.

Florida is a mediocre 4-3 and facing an almost certain loss to Georgia in that heated rivalry. Missouri, South Carolina, UAB, and Florida State conclude the Gators schedule and those games are all possible wins or losses. Don’t laugh at the possibility of a UAB victory in The Swamp. Bill Clark has the Blazers playing remarkably good football, especially when one considers that this team hadn’t played a game in two years before the 2017 campaign began.

We haven’t even mentioned Tennessee except by name. I don’t know if ‘dumpster fire’ is even an adequate description for what is taking place up on Rocky Top. But, historically, November has been the month when the Vols really tend to make hay. But Alabama might beat them mercilessly on this Third Saturday in October and that could complete the demoralization process in Knoxville. Butch Jones is probably coaching his last game as head man of the Vols.

After a 3-0 start the Vanderbilt Commodores have lost 4 straight games and are headed south with a bullet. The schedule is doable (South Carolina, Western Kentucky, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee) but it will have to pick up the pace to make a bowl game.

That’s my take on the Southeastern Conference here and today. A lot of football remains to be played and who knows what portends as we look down the stretch of the 2017 college football season. Good luck to you and your favorite teams!

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E-mail Bird at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Autull.

Image via Flickr/getmahesh

Kevin Sumlin Is On Borrowed Time At Texas A&M

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly – Week 1 – September 4, 2017

Welcome back to college football, the weekend was glorious, wasn’t it? We’re left with just Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech on the Week 1 schedule, so I think it’s a good time to play the Good, the Bad and the Ugly game with Week 1. Short of Tennessee losing and Butch Jones being left on a tarmac at Atlanta’s airport, nothing can top what we’re about to talk about.

The Good

Easily the best story in college football this week is UAB. After a three-year hiatus and my friends in Tuscaloosa doing everything in their power to prevent football in Birmingham, the Blazers have returned and were triumphant over Alabama A&M. On their first drive, UAB went 76 yards in fourteen plays and converted a touchdown on fourth down. Solid start.

UAB’s football schedule is mostly “easy,” but a solid showing against Florida on Sat Nov 18 could go a long way in bringing more of the right kind of attention to the program in 2017 and beyond.

Also, nice to see a record crowd for UAB in its return, but the long-term success of the program depends on constant support from fans and the community.

The Bad

This wasn’t a great opening weekend for three of the major football teams in Texas. Texas A&M was up on UCLA last night and forced the Bruins to score 34 points without a turnover is nothing short of amazing. Honestly, I turned the game off and switched to NASCAR then Netflix. If we started the evening with Jim Mora at the top of the coaching hot seat, he was quickly replaced by Kevin Sumlin.

Then there’s Tom Herman’s debut at Texas. For the record, I didn’t think Herman was ready for a job like Texas when he was hired and I’m not saying that Saturday’s loss to Maryland cemented that thought to me, because one game does not make a coach. Herman will have his team playing better, and as Chase will tell you this week there’s a lot that likely needs to happen behind the scenes for the Longhorns to get better. Turning non-Power 5 Houston around is a lot easier than turning Big 12 Texas around. That said, in the earlier three meetings between Maryland and Texas, Maryland had never scored; on Saturday they scored 51.

Last, we must talk about Baylor. I think we knew at some point all the shenanigans related to the off-field sexual assault was going to catch up to them in a big way. Coaching changes, players leaving or refusing to play there, negative press, and the constant stories hurt. Did I ever think it would show itself against FCS Lamar in Waco? absolutely not. Do I think this is absolute rock bottom for Baylor? Not even close.

The Ugly

99-0 was the score between St. John’s University and St. Scholastica (yes, she is real because I’m Catholic and I also checked Wikipedia.) in beautiful Collegeville, Minnesota. Per SB Nation, St. John’s used – and get ready for this one – almost 180 players in this game and wanted to play the fourth quarter with a running clock, but the men of Benedictine from Scholastica said, “No, thanks.”

Amazing.

And as a bonus: The Weird

Lane Kiffin. Down by 23 as his FAU Owls are facing the Midshipmen of Navy, the game is already in its third lightening delay and it is nearly 1am and Kiffin refuses to let the game go. He forces both teams to come back out, btw – Navy had already eaten their post-game meal, only to lose the game 42-19.

We get it, Lane – it’s still all about you.

E-mail Damien at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @damienbowman.

Photo: Wikipedia

How Many Games Will the SEC Lose This Weekend?

The SEC has plenty of all-but-guaranteed wins in the first week of the 2017 college football season. But, the SEC also has multiple games that are toss-ups and some that look like likely losses.

As a lover of all things SEC football, I’ve been contemplating what kind of record the SEC will emerge from this opening weekend of games with.

Last year, the ACC proved to be stronger than many anticipated (even though I made an early call on that one). But with three at least decent ACC opponents scheduled for SEC teams this first weekend, should the SEC be worried?

There’s also that Michigan-Florida rematch from about a year and a half ago when the Wolverines annihilated the Gators in the Citrus Bowl. Should we go ahead and give this one to Michigan, too?

What about Texas A&M and UCLA? Aggies Head Coach Kevin Sumlin is undoubtedly on the hot seat this season. Will he be able to get his second-straight win over the Bruins and ease the pressure down in College Station a bit?

Unfortunately, I am not Brandon Stark and I do not have “the sight.” I cannot give you a completely confident answer for any of those questions I just posed. I can, however, give you a few game predictions along with my reasoning for my picks.

The NC State Wolfpack and South Carolina Gamecocks face off on Saturday at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, NC. This game poses an interesting offense-defense matchup for the teams. NC State has a powerful defensive line but will be lacking in the secondary. South Carolina may be lacking on the offensive line, but boasts one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC this season in Jake Bentley. ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) gives NC State a 62.7% chance of winning this game. After seeing how the ACC fared last season and considering the intriguing matchup, I give a slight edge to the Wolfpack here as well. Regardless of the outcome, I expect this to be a close contest.

The Florida State Seminoles and Alabama Crimson Tide also face off in an ACC-SEC matchup on Saturday in Atlanta’s new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. I’ll never be one to bet against Nick Saban and Alabama, but if I were going to bet against him, I would be considering this game. ESPN’s FPI may give the Tide a 59%-41% advantage over the Seminoles, but the computers don’t know everything. Alabama returns numerous important pieces of its puzzle, and so does Florida State. Florida State seems to have the advantage on offense while Alabama has the defensive advantage. At the end of the day, this will probably come down to coaching. And in that scenario, I’ll take Nick Saban.

The Tennessee Volunteers play another ACC opponent next Monday, when they also visit Mercedes-Benz Stadium to face off against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets. A few weeks ago, I would’ve said Tennessee was likely in trouble in this game. After the Yellow Jackets dismissed top returning running back Dedrick Mills from the team, Tennessee’s chances to win this game surged. After a rough 2016 season defensively, the Vols might have had trouble defending such a dynamic offense. But the loss of Mills will be insurmountable for the Yellow Jackets at this point in the season, giving Tennessee a good shot at winning this game. And for what it’s worth, ESPN’s FPI also gives the Vols a good shot here with a 68.1%-31.9% advantage.

The Michigan Wolverines take on The Florida Gators on Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. Due to a 41-7 Michigan win over Florida in the Citrus Bowl the concluded the teams’ 2015 seasons, there is doubt that Florida can even put up a good fight. Michigan returns almost nobody noteworthy from that 2015 team. So, I find that bowl victory to be irrelevant. Florida returns multiple starters, boasts a very talented receiving corps, and has very capable young defensive players to fill gaps left by last year’s departures. Michigan returns talent and has young players stepping up as well, make no mistake. But because of Florida Coach Jim McElwain, I’m leaning toward the Gators for this huge matchup. ESPN’s FPI isn’t any help here, being a near-toss-up at Michigan 50.5%, Florida 49.5%.

The Texas A&M Aggies travel to Pasadena, CA, this weekend to take on the UCLA Bruins. Last season, these two teams kicked off the season in College Station, TX, with an overtime thriller. The Aggies finished the 2016 regular season at 8-4 while the Bruins finished at 4-8. The Aggies lost countless starters, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Their season is as unpredictable as ever under Head Coach Kevin Sumlin. The Bruins finished 4-8 last season, only winning one game after losing starting QB Josh Rosen to a season-ending injury. With Rosen back, the Bruins could be poised to bounce back with a vengeance this season. Because of Rosen and Texas A&M’s departures, I have to give the edge to UCLA here. ESPN’s FPI will back me up on this one, giving the Bruins a 68.4% chance of winning this game.

The question I posed remains. How many losses will the SEC endure in its first week of play this season? If you go by my answers here, it’s only two. But with a couple of my SEC wins being close calls, I wouldn’t be surprised to see three or four losses from the SEC this weekend.

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You can email Kristen at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @KristenBotica.

SEC Champions? Oh Lord, Won’t You Take Me to Mercedes-Benz Stadium

Rejoice! Kickoff is one week from tomorrow! Actually, the Arkansas Razorbacks will tee it up on Thursday. Their “competition?” The mighty Rattlers of Florida A&M. And then on Saturday, some of the other SEC related games include Missouri playing Missouri State, Georgia hosting Appalachian State,  Charleston Southern will play at Mississippi State… ad nauseum.

But! There are some big games on the slate for opening weekend with the monster clash between Alabama and Florida State headlining them all.

Now it’s time for me to summon my crystal ball and look into the future. I hope gazing at the eclipse didn’t blur my powers of prognostication.

Onward!

SEC EAST 

Florida (8-4, 6-2) I like the Gators’ big uglies, their defense, and their skill position players. But, just like everybody else, the quarterback position is the key. They will plug in someone who is more than capable to put them at the top of the East.

Tennessee (9-3, 5-3) The Vols will have more total wins than anyone else in the division but they will also have more conference losses than the Gators. That head to head matchup will decide which team makes the trek to Atlanta.

Georgia (8-4, 5-3) You gotta love the Dawgs’ running backs and their overall talent, but it will be their inconsistent play at quarterback and in the trenches that will cause the East title to elude them.

Kentucky (8-4, 5-3) I like the Cats as the sleeper to win this division. There is talent in Lexington but probably not enough SEC quality depth to carry them to Hotlanta. I’d love to see it though!

South Carolina (6-6, 3-5) Will Muschamp’s second year in Columbia will find an improved team, but the record will not reflect that. They’re in good shape at quarterback with Jake Bentley.

Vanderbilt (3-9, 1-7) Derek Mason has the Commodores playing pretty well. I like Kyle Shurmur as their signal-caller. But do not expect Vandy to rise any higher than sixth in the division.

Missouri (4-8, 0-8) The upside is the offensive potential, and QB Drew Lock, in Columbia. Overall, though, Barry Odom’s second year might not turn out any better than his first.

SEC West

Auburn (11-1, 7-1) Talent, depth, experience, and coaching will combine to make this one of those highly memorable seasons down on the Plains. Jarrett Stidham will, indeed, turn out to be the straw that stirs the drink. And the home finale with Alabama will finally go Auburn’s way again.

Alabama (10-2, 7-1)  Loaded. Every year. But the season will begin and end with losses which will keep the Crimson Tide from their fourth straight College Football Playoff appearance.

Texas A&M (9-3, 6-2) Kevin Sumlin steps down off the hot seat with a very good season in College Station. And the Aggies pick up some big wins on the way to a solid 9-3 campaign.

LSU (9-3, 5-3) Coach O won’t be able to bring home a ring in his first full season in Red Stick. I still have my doubts about the Tigers’ long term prospects, as well, in spite of their talent level.

Arkansas (7-5, 4-4) Bret Bielema and his Hawgs continue to battle the mediocrity that has beset them in Fayetteville. This year will bring no relief. Austin Allen provides great talent, tenacity, and leadership behind center, but the West is too strong to allow for a climb up the ladder.

And then… the Mississippis. The six and seven slots in the division are interchangeable.

Mississippi State (5-7, 1-7) I’ll go with State, Dan Mullen, and Nick Fitzgerald to keep the Bulldogs out of the cellar. And, they will probably notch more than the one conference win I have allowed them.

Ole Miss (4-8, 1-7) Two words. Dumpster fire.

So there you have it! According to my mighty powers of perception, note that I never use the term “reality” in my fearless forecast, the Auburn Tigers will meet the aforementioned Florida Gators in Atlanta, GA on December 2nd for the championship of the Southeastern Conference.

Who will win that contest? Yes, it will be my Tigers! And they will go on to make the College Football Playoff, along with the Florida State Seminoles, the Ohio State Buckeyes, and the Washington Huskies.

You may now wipe those tears away, whether they be tears of joy or of sadness. My guess is you might have sprayed your morning coffee or evening cocktail all over your phone or computer screen at the sheer hilarity of such humorous predictions! That’s ok.

For again I say, rejoice!

College football is upon us!

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E-mail Bird at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Autull.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Ramblin’ Around the SEC, Something’s Burning

Occasionally, I do a column on my personal website which I call Ramblin’. It’s a stream of consciousness, word association, hodge-podge type of thing on which I bemuse on any number of subjects. Today, we’re going to ramble around the SEC a bit. This one will be more organized and structured but it is ramblin’ nonetheless.

One topic of discussion that tends to circulate throughout college football, in the off-season, concerns coaches who are on the hot seat. Some of those coaches’ fannies are truly scorching, for others it’s just a matter of speculation on the part of the media and fans.

Here is my take on the SEC coaches who appear to be feeling the most heat, in no particular order.

Gus Malzahn

I’ll start with Gus because I’m an Auburn guy and his situation is, obviously, the most important to me. I do not believe Gus’ hiney is as hot as many might think. Now. But, if Auburn loses 4 or 5 games it probably will be; however, I don’t think that will be the case. The Tigers appear to me as the second best team in the conference and their record should, ultimately, reflect that.

Kevin Sumlin

 A similar situation to Malzahn. A&M needs to have a big year. Sumlin needs to break the pattern of winning his first 5 or 6 games and then crashing and burning in the second half of the season. The Aggies’ boss definitely needs to take care of business or climb down off of the porcelain throne.

Hugh Freeze

 Whether the Ole Miss powers-that-be or their fans like it or not, his rump is hot. How can it not be? Regardless of the Rebels’ on-the-field performance, their NCAA situation screams for someone to take the fall in Oxford. In the end, doesn’t that fall on the head coach?

Butch Jones

 In spite of being “Champions of Life” and having “Five Star Hearts”, the Tennessee Volunteers need to win a lot of football games. Talk is, indeed, cheap, especially when the product on the field consistently fails to meet expectations.

Bret Bielema, are you listening?

Onward to some talk about some actual football games. SEC Media Days is just around the corner, July 10-13, and polls will then begin to pop up everywhere. Speculation will be like wildfires spreading across the nation. And here in the Southland is where things seem to always burn with the greatest intensity.

Yeah! Let’s keep on with that hot theme!

Here are the ‘smokinest’ games in the SEC on opening weekend. Again, in no particular order.

Florida vs. Michigan

 Both teams will be ranked (Yes, I think Florida should and will be ranked). SEC vs. Big Ten. Gators and Wolverines. Jim vs. Jim. The flamboyant Harbaugh and the steady McElwain. Jerry World.

Alabama vs. Florida State

 The biggest one of the weekend. Two top five teams, at minimum. The ACC and the SEC. The Tide and the Noles. Hotlanta, GA. First college game at Mercedes-Benz stadium. Playoff preview?

Texas A&M vs. UCLA

 Two coaches on the hot seat. Huge for both teams. Rose Bowl. Bruins house. Prime Time. Sunday! Sunday! SUN-DAY!!! Be there!

Tennessee vs. Georgia Tech

Rocky Top and Ramblin’ Wreck. Great jump-start for someone. Mercedes-Benz, again. Hotlanta Deux. Jones and Johnson.

Disparate styles. A shootout?

Missouri vs. Missouri State

Just messin’ with ya!

And now, we might as well conclude with more hot topics or burning questions.

Will Alabama keep its playoff streak alive? Will Ole Miss be sanctioned into certain, long term mediocrity? Will Georgia win the East for the first time in five years? Will Coach “O” deliver? Will Vanderbilt go bowling again? Does anybody care? Will Muschamp?

All of this and more… later!

Texas and Texas A&M Are Too Good For Each Other

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how the Longhorns and Aggies need to get over themselves already and bring back the rivalry. While I meant and believed everything I said in the article, I also have some thoughts as to why the game should never be played again.

Disclaimer: this post may contain some serious Longhorn bias that some may find offensive. No sense in hiding behind opinions, right?

1. A&M is too good for Texas

The Aggies left the Big 12 for greener pastures in the SEC. They now play in the best conference in the nation, so why would they want to waste their time playing a team from the Big 12?

A&M got their money by making the jump. They also got more stability because of the nature of the SEC as compared to the Big 12. The decision A&M made to leave was their own and they are doing just fine without Texas. They are still an average program with more luster because of the conference they play in. If they were in the Big 12 still with the same results, they wouldn’t have as much attention on a weekly basis because Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State beating them regularly was normal.

2. Texas is too good for A&M

Texas already had their money and always will have their money. They got the Longhorn Network after the Aggies left, and supposedly wanted to partner with their rival on a network. But A&M declined.

The Longhorns don’t need the Aggies to survive. The Big 12 may not be the best place right now, but if there’s one school in the conference that shouldn’t be panicking, it’s Texas.

If the Longhorns ever get good again, they are in a great position to instantly regain national prominence. The last thing the program needs is for A&M to get in the way of that.

3. Why the game shouldn’t happen

Playing each other in a bowl game would be absolutely pointless, unless it happened to be in a College Football Playoff game. Considering neither program is even sniffing that consideration, there’s no reason to force the issue.

There will be talk every year that the two could face each other in a meaningless game, like the Texas bowl with both teams being 7-5 or 8-4. I would hope either school would decline the invitation if they knew they would have to play each other under those circumstances.

And I’m saying that with the complete opinion that Texas has more to gain from the game being played than A&M does. Think about it. If Texas wins, coaches could sell the mantra of A&M still being the little brother in the state, even if they’re in a shinier conference now.

If A&M wins the game, they will have a little more momentum and fuel for recruits, but the reality is they still have to compete with Alabama, LSU and Auburn for many of their recruits. The Aggies thought it would be a good idea to open up the Texas border to those out-of-state schools, and they are clearly taking full advantage of it.

The thing about it is A&M thought moving to the SEC would sway recruits away from the Longhorns and into their hands. While that has been partially true to this point, it’s also damaged the state of Texas as a whole from a football perspective. Kids are playing in different states now instead of staying at home. You think there’s a connection there when you realize no Texas team was in the top 25 to end the season last year? I definitely don’t think it’s a pure coincidence.

It’s been six years since the Longhorns and Aggies have met on the football field. And it will probably be that way for at least another six years.

The fact that I have pretty strong opinions on either side just simply means I’m indifferent about the situation. My indifference could also be because Texas football has been absolute garbage the last six plus years as well.

I’m sure the game will come back at some point. But at this time, it’s more of an “if” rather than a “when.” And that’s probably how it should be.

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Wikimedia

It’s Time For The Longhorns and Aggies to Make Amends

Texas and Texas A&M haven’t played each other on the football field since 2011. In case you forgot how that game ended, go ahead and click here for a quick refresher.

Now that you’re either feeling pretty good about life or completely hate me for bringing up that memory, let’s get real about this game coming back for a minute.

I understand there are politics, money and egos involved with the whole situation, but I could care less about that. I also know that both schools did what they thought was best for them at the time and in the future, and I’m not concerned about that right now either. I’m talking strictly about reasons why it makes sense for the game to be played again.

1. The fans crave it.

Don’t believe me? Just look at the attendance numbers any time Texas and A&M play each other in any sport. The Longhorns hosted the Aggies about a month ago in baseball and had a sold out crowd on a Tuesday night. In what is normally a meaningless game on a Tuesday, this game meant something, even though there is no “rivalry” anymore.

And I don’t care if it’s volleyball, basketball, golf, baseball or any other sport. Both fan bases will at the very least check in on the score and rest a little easier when their team wins against the other. And some people say the football game shouldn’t be played again because of lack of interest? Get out of here with that nonsense.

2. It’s great for the state.

Quite frankly, there’s not enough hate going on in the state of Texas when it comes to football, and that has to change. As a Texas fan, the only team that comes close to the rivalry with A&M is Oklahoma. I could care less about Texas Tech or TCU. Baylor is up there on the hate list because of their scandalous behavior, but that’s a whole different level.

Even high school kids are beginning to choose out-of-state schools over Texas or A&M. A lot of that has to do with both programs being average or below average, but it makes you think if this game not being played has something to do with it as well. As a result of kids leaving the state, Texas did not have a program in the top 25 to end the season in seemingly forever. Is there a connection there? Maybe.

3. National attention.

It’s hard to say that this game would get a lot of national attention at first, just because neither team has been any good lately. However, I’ve noticed something last year and this year that could be very attractive.

Texas moved their opening game to the Sunday of Labor Day against Notre Dame, and it ended up being one of the highest rated games for TV all season. This year, A&M is doing the same for their game against UCLA.

Why can’t Texas and A&M play each other every year on the Sunday of Labor Day? It’s the first game of the year, so the hype would be unreal between the fan bases all offseason. I get it that neither school would want to play the game later in the year after the conference schedule, so the first game makes perfect sense. It could alternate home and away games, or just make it neutral every year at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. I guarantee it would be a sold out game with good TV ratings every year.

I’ve heard some opinions that the game should never come back, because the rivalry will be forgotten in ten years anyway. I couldn’t disagree more. Anyone who has gotten a taste of the rivalry will welcome it back. That means my generation definitely won’t forget about the rivalry ten years from now and much longer.

Both programs had to do what was best for them back in 2011, but now it’s time to do what’s best for the fans, the state and the game of college football. This game needs to be played every year, and that’s coming from a Texas fan acknowledging that my team would have lost to the Aggies most of these past several years, if not all of them.

I used to be satisfied with being able to reflect back on 27-25 for eternity, but now I just miss the feeling of beating A&M again. And maybe I miss the feeling of being hurt after a loss in some twisted way. But with an all-time record of 76-37-5 against the poor Aggies, losing to them is not a feeling I’m accustomed to.

See there, I couldn’t even write this article without throwing in a jab or two. And I’d expect the same from the other side. That’s the beauty and uniqueness of the rivalry. The verbal attacks and social media attacks are getting old. Let’s just play the game already.

Hook’em.

E-mail Chase at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @chaseholik88.

Photo: Wikimedia

SEC Champions or “Champions of Life?”

ESPN’s preseason FPI (Football Power Index) was released Monday and here is how it looks. All 130 FBS schools were ranked. And here is a brief summation of how this system works:

“The model comprises four major components: the last four seasons of performance on offense, defense and special teams, with the most recent season counting most; information on offensive and defensive returning starters, with special consideration given to a team returning its starting quarterback or gaining a transfer quarterback with experience; a four-year average recruiting ranking of four systems (ESPN, Scouts, Rivals and Phil Steele); and head coaching tenure. These four components interact and are assigned different weights depending on the team to produce preseason FPI.”

Here are the SEC teams in the Top 25:

2. Alabama
5. Auburn
6. LSU
13. Georgia
15. Florida
20. Tennessee

A couple of things jumped out at me immediately. First of all, Alabama is not ranked number one. And, Auburn is ranked in the top five.

Here we go with high expectations, again, for my Tigers. More on that later.

And the remainder of the conference.

27. Texas A & M
32. South Carolina
33. Mississippi State
34. Kentucky
36. Arkansas
38. Ole Miss
41. Missouri
47. Vanderbilt

What leapt forth from the page upon my first take? South Carolina would probably be somewhere in “others receiving votes” if this were the AP or USA Today Coaches poll.

Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Me thinks not but me also thought not in 2016 as I had Will Muschamp’s boys at dead last in my preseason picks.

Please don’t ponder my picks too very long, please. There are, as always, embarrassments aplenty in there.

Another thing that struck me is Ole Miss coming in at number 12 out of 14 if you’re ranking the SEC top to bottom with no divisional considerations.

And that provides a slick segue-way into the breakdown of the East and West.

SEC East

  1. Georgia
  2. Florida
  3. Tennessee (“Champions of Life and “Five star hearts”)
  4. South Carolina
  5. Kentucky
  6. Missouri
  7. Vanderbilt

SEC West

  1. Alabama
  2. Auburn
  3. LSU
  4. Texas A&M
  5. Mississippi State
  6. Arkansas
  7. Ole Miss(ed)

You know what? That’s pretty darn accurate as far as I’m concerned.

And you know what really concerns me most about these rankings? Auburn’s lofty perch. I refer back to my, earlier, high expectations comment. If you follow SEC football closely, and Auburn in particular, you will know that high expectations, quite often, precede a disappointing season for Auburn.

Whatever. I’ll take it.

Back to the entire pack.

The East. Georgia is my “way too early” choice to make the short trek to the happy, shiny, brand-spanking new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Hotlanta.

You have to admit that is a most impressive facility, but so was the Georgia Dome which remains a very serviceable stadium. Billionaire’s toys.

Oh well, back to the East. I might jump Kentucky to the fourth spot and that would place the Gamecocks at five.

The West? (Clearing my throat and repeating the mantra, “Always pick Bama first.”). And if you, again, harken back to my 2016 foolishness, you’ll see I had to go with LSU in spite of my mantra and knowing in my heart of hearts that it would be the Tide. Sigh.

I don’t think I like State over Arkansas and I’m not so sure about the Rebs in the cellar, but somebody has to finish last. There could be a tie down there at the bottom.

What else? LSU is loaded, as always, but I like where they are here. Number three. And… and… AND… I like the winner of the Iron Bowl to join Georgia in that happy, shiny, palace.

It’s only February! Who will win the SEC and who will be named “Champions of Life?” Stay tuned!

E-mail Bird at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @Autull.