Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Open Letters: Dear Texas A&M, About those expectations.

Hello Aggies,

Well, you've gone and done it. You've messed around and fired a coach who did the following:

Had a record of 51-26 (.662) as the coach of your football program.
NEVER had a sub .500 season.
Went to 5 bowls in five years and lost two of them.
Had players selected in the 1st round of the last six NFL drafts.
Had a player win your school's 2nd Heisman.

Granted, some of those wins and players (including the Heisman winner) were recruits of the last regime, and since Sumlin started playing a majority of his own players things seemed to stagnate at around 8-5. He also had difficulties winning games against a.) Conference opponents and b.) teams with winning records.

I say all of this to say "I get it". Sumlin had to go, at least you were more welcoming of him into your ranks than UT-Austin was of the first black coach in their history.

Of course, and I'm going to say this often in these little letters, I'm not a fan. Nor am I someone who really hates aTm and all things Aggie. I think Kyle Field is one of the best home-game advantage stadium in all of college football and I think your traditions, and the embracing of them, is good.  I think it's a little silly that UT-Austin is in your fight song, (which is really odd when you sing it and you're playing say....Ole Miss) and the whole #BTHO [Insert Team Name Here] seems excessive to me but overall you and I are on neutral terms.

That said, we need to talk about some things.

1. Beware the curse of Nebraska

Back in the olden days of college football, when Keith Jackson was still calling games and when players still sported half-shirts un-ironically on the field, Nebraska decided that they weren't getting what they wanted out of a coach and pulled the trigger on Frank Solich, who had just finished 9-3. We all know what happened next.

My worry is that you're doing the same thing here, that you've decided, despite facts, that Texas aTm is a Top 5 job and that you deserve a top-flight coach to get it done. It's more likely that you're going to end up with a string of Bill Callahan's and Bo Pellinis which won't get you where you want to be.

2. Too-high of expectations.

This is not going to be easy for you to hear, and some of you might react to it in a negative way, but let's just get it out in the open:  Texas A&M is not now, nor has it ever been, a Top 5 (or 10 to be honest) college football job.  Go ahead, repeat that to yourself several times, go outside and holler at the heavens.  I'll wait......

Back?  Good.  Now before you start sharpening Revile's fangs to come after me hear me out. I'm not saying that Texas aTm is a BAD job, only that's its not one of the top jobs in the country.  Yes, you have money and some resources and a sweet conference alignment, but you're at the middle-bottom of a division that features Alabama, Auburn and LSU.  All of those are top 10 locations. In my mind you're Mississippi State, the two programs are so similar it's startling.  And your expectations should be about there as well.

3. What should those expectations be?

Here it is simply: No worse that 7 wins annually, with a couple of years in every 5 year period that you finish with double digit wins and challenge for (and sometimes win) the SEC title, which puts you in the conversation for the CFP as it currently stands.

From that perspective, Sumlin failed because he never came close to the latter.

While not a bullet point I would also encourage you to talk to UT-Austin, revive your Friday after Thanksgiving series with them. I would also caution that a lot of coaches who were a good fit in other places might not be the best of fits in College Station given the culture you have developed.

Yes, I might include Jimbo Fisher in this list.

Good luck in your coaching search and in your upcoming bowl, should you decide to play in one.

Sincerely,

Cory

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