Friday, June 6, 2014

Who Controls the Heat on College Football?

In case you haven’t heard, Darian Claiborne and Isaiah Golden were kicked off of the A&M Football team this week after being arrested for aggravated assault. The two former players are being charged with robbing three men at gun-point in a drug deal that went sour. One can only hope this is a turning point for the two boys who drastically excel in one area of their lives, football, but drastically fall short in another, ethics. The compounding nature of the event (drugs, guns, assault, and theft) tell a pretty grim story-line and lead you to deduce this is not likely to have been the first time the two have dabbled in these activities. Should the two have known better? Absolutely. Who’s fault is it that these boys didn’t? Largely debatable.

Andre Ware, ESPN personality and former run-and-gun star at the University of Houston, would have you believe this is just another sign that Kevin Sumlin has no control over his football team. Meanwhile, the average A&M fan is applauding Sumlin for making an example out of the two. So which is right?

Here’s my take. We, as fans, get what we deserve.

We’ve built a society where only the exceptional stand out. If you’re the top 1%, you get 90% of the recognition and scrutiny. In football terms, this works just fine! If you’re the best player on the team, then you should get plenty of attention for being really good at something you are constantly working to improve. But what about the other areas of your life? The non-football aspects? Kyle Allen was the #1 rated QB in the nation in last year’s recruiting class, but how well does he treat his younger siblings? Does Kyle Allen even have any younger siblings? What about his driving skills? It doesn’t matter, he is really good at throwing a football so we’ll prop him up as a well intentioned young man with good leadership skills and a welcoming smile. We’ll fill in the rest of the story for you until something in life happens that makes us admit he may have faults. Is Speedy Noil good at following through on promises? Does Speedy cook a fancy dinner for his girlfriend on Valentine’s Day? Do we care? Not one bit. No, we only start caring when they see success on the field. THEN we care about every little detail (just Google “Johnny Football TMZ”). Why is this? Because we care about WINNING. Anyone who has proven to be successful on the field now becomes a potential liability if they let something else in their lives interfere with their dedication to helping our team WIN. We DRIVE our most successful members of society into neglecting the other areas of their development until they trip up and then we either cover-up for them so as to not alarm anyone else that there may be an issue or we cut ties with them and cast them off to be crucified by the media.

This is not a football concept. This is the same process that happens with other child stars (i.e. Lindsey Lohan, Justin Bieber, or the Olsen Twins). It absolutely baffles me when people expect Justin Bieber to be a good role model just because he is excellent at entertaining a crowd with music. If anything, we should be EXPECTING these highly specialized individuals to be missing key components of their development due to the amount of dedication they have committed to their specialized area of expertise.

So this is the world we have created, one where we gorge on every little piece of information that may help our team WIN, but distance ourselves from the negative result of our empowerment. So why then is everyone so surprised when these mini-stars that we have created go haywire? Would Lindsey Lohan have gone so crazy had she not been the subject of this massive media scrutiny for years upon years? Perhaps. It’s impossible to say one way or the other, but she certainly isn’t done any favors by the millions of adoring fans she had showering her with money just to turn on her when she was no longer the flavor of the week. Build them up just to tear them down. Same song stuck on repeat.

So to my point, Golden and Claiborne are far from the first punks to decide to bring a gun to a drug dispute, but we only care about this incident because it impacts our ability to WIN. Let’s not be na├»ve enough to think that Sumlin is getting paid $5 million a year to turn our team into shining examples of community servants. In fact, he’s paid to turn them into obsessive work-aholics with largely unrealistic dreams and living in a highly visible and sterile “if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the fire” environment. We can all pretend that having a coach who builds strong, honest young men is vital. But let's not kid ourselves, if Ghandi groomed stellar young men, but never won an SEC game he would be canned in two years. 

This is the environment we have created. And Sumlin is currently inhabiting it. Certainly, keeping his players out of trouble is ultimately beneficial to his ability to win, but that’s just it, he’s ONLY paid to WIN.

And we’re the ones paying him.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Who is Conner McQueen and Is He a Good Ag?

Who is Conner McQueen? And is he a good Ag?

Those are two questions I have asked myself since we heard the news of a quarterback who-shall-not-be-named stabbed us in the back with an abrupt, unjustified transfer to some school that plays in the highly-acclaimed Big 12. But seriously, considering that one of our potential starting quarterbacks was eating at a high school cafeteria less than six months ago and the other one may or may not be developing a case of north gate narcolepsy, well, maybe we should get to know this third stringer. Believe it or not, Mr. McQueen is only two missteps (albeit dramatic missteps) away from staring directly into the eyes of some foaming South Carolina linebacker in four months. But seriously, who is this kid? And more importantly does he have what it takes to be a good Ag?

Conner McQueen is 5’10 and 175 pounds per GigEm247. Ok, that’s not a good start. Those measurements pretty much just make him a more athletic version of me… which probably doesn’t bode well for a Saturday afternoon in SEC country. Ok, ok… Johnny was small right? But does he have those big, beautiful, well-moisturized hands like Johnny? (Sidenote: it legitimately took me like two minutes to find four articles on the internet with "Johnny" and "Hands" in the title... the internet is great). Well, much to my surprise, I am finding it a little hard to get information regarding Conner’s hands via Google search. (Sidenote: the internet has failed me). I might have to find a way to ask him myself. Wait! That is a great idea. Connor isn’t big time yet. He most definitely could carve out a few minutes in his day to answer a formal “get-to-know you” Aggie Rundown survey. The best way to get to answers is to go straight to the source. My mind is racing with questions already, but, before we get to the official survey let’s go ahead and throw out all the facts I can dig up as well as define some general expectations of what make a good Ag.

First the Conner McQueen facts:
  • He is a 20 year-old (honestly just guessing... can't find his birth date) sophomore from Klein, Texas.
  • He attended Klein Oak high school.
  • Via a random Houston Chronicle article in September 2011 Conner McQueen, “prefers to stay in the pocket, go through his progressions and make reads.” Full disclosure; that quote was made in comparison to some fast guy that McQueen split QB duties with at Klein Oak. But yea, any info works. Also, here's video proof of him being more accurate and having more "fire" than both Johnny and Kenny. We can now deduce that McQueen is a pro-style quarterback. Cool.
  • Via a not-so-random Sports Illustrated article in March 2014 Conner McQueen recently received an SEC Academic Honor Roll plaque. And he was berated for being a red head by that guy who transferred. And he responded with a “Mucus Lucas” joke (don’t know what that means). Ok, the puzzle is putting itself together. McQueen is a cerebral, pro-style quarterback with the ability to keep his teammates loose (with jokes) in tough situations. Very cool.
That is literally all I can find. But hey, we got some good stuff there though. I am honestly becoming quite the fan of Mr. McQueen. Before we turn it over to a questionnaire that we will bug Conner to answer via Twitter, let’s go over a few quick guidelines of what makes a good Ag. Because let’s be real, if Conner isn’t a red-ass (no pun intended) fightin’ Texas Aggie to the core… well he just isn’t worthy of our growing admiration.

Quick qualities of a good Ag: Loves College Station water. Attends Big Event. Respects Sul Ross' positive energy. Loves Lyle Lovett. Starts a new A&M organization. Tries out to be the 12th Man. Agrees with all of Rick Perry's policies. Irrationally despises Robert Griffin III. Mugging down with hot babes.

Quick qualities of a bad Ag: Neglects Sul Ross' positive energy. Disrespects Layne's historical importance. Talks loud in the Flag Room. Steps on the grass. Doesn't tear up when George Bush Sr. and Barb show up at A&M events. Doesn't believe in Century Tree love.

There we go, some general "Ag Expectations". Without further ado, here is your questionnaire (12 questions of course... WHOOP!!!) Conner. Please email your detailed, honest answers to The world is waiting.
  1. Tell me about your hands. Like everything. How big are they? Are they well-manicured? Do you moisturize? Is that important? If so, what is your moisturizer of choice?
  2. How many silver taps have you attended? And don’t you lie; we will find the attendance records.
  3. Did you join any organizations as a freshman? Did you get rejected from any organizations? Do you have organizational plans for the future? What is one organization you would NOT want to be a part of? Why?
  4. What is your best attribute on the football field?
  5. Does your red hair help or hurt you with the ladies?
  6. Does being a walk-on football player help you with the ladies? Have you ever mugged down with a sweet lady friend at Midnight Yell?
  7. What Sorority have you taken a liking to?
  8. Have you met Drake yet? Do you want to meet Drake? Do you want to be in his Regime?
  9. Are you a 4th generation Aggie? 3rd generation? ANYTHING?!?!?!
  10. What is your favorite Corp Squadron/Unit? Your least favorite?
  11. Have you ever received "monetary incentive" to sign autographs? Can Aggie Rundown provide "monetary incentive" for game-used, signed memorabilia?
  12. If the Dry Bean was going to make a Conner McQueen shot, what would it be?
Seriously, Conner. 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Matt Joeckel to Transfer, Good or Bad?

Matt Joeckel is transferring to another school for his final year of eligibility.

[COLLEGE STATION-- Texas A&M graduate and Aggie quarterback Matt Joeckel will take advantage of an NCAA transfer rule to pursue his final year of athletic eligibility at another institution.

"Matt is a great Aggie and he has decided to transfer," Aggie head football coach Kevin Sumlin said. "We wish him all the best."

"I have loved my four and a half years at Texas A&M," Joeckel said. "I am glad I had the opportunity to play for Coach Sumlin, Coach (Jake) Spavital and the rest of the coaches. I am proud to have my degree from the Mays Business School and I'll always consider myself a member of the Aggie family."]

So this leaves us with TWO scholarship quarterbacks: Kenny Hill and Kyle Allen. One is a sophomore and the other is a true freshman.

Now, I think both guys are going to be real competitors at the QB position, so I'm not too worried about picking a starter. However, I am worried about depth at the position in case of an injury. Say Kenny Hill finds himself in a planters box the Friday night before the season opening game against South Carolina and Kyle Allen has to start the first game of the season and tweaks his ankle in the first quarter. Who goes in then? Well the actual answer is our undersized, walk-on, red-headed step-quarterback Connor McQueen (aka A&M's current version of Rudy). But my point is that we would be in an extremely unfavorable position if our red-headed walk-on were to play three quarters of our season opener at South Carolina. 

In the days of Stephen McGee and Jerrod Johnson, we didn't have this problem because the backup QB was always the most popular guy. So there was definitely the incentive to hang around for your chance to replace the struggling starter. 

But that's the catch-22 to having successful QBs. Guys who can start elsewhere but ride the bench at your school will leave. Georgia has had a fantastic string of successful QBs, but former Georgia QBs who didn't win the starting job ended up doing well for themselves by transferring. One ended up at LSU and is now one of the top 5 QBs in the draft and the other just took Auburn to the National Championship Game. 

So what do successful programs do exactly? I'm seriously asking because, as an Aggie, I've never been privileged with being a program that is successful at the QB position. If you have a clue, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Comment #1 from Scott Klovans: Oh, oh, oh... pick me! I wanna chime in!

How about Matt Joeckel not be a selfish poo head?

This isn't Matt Davis we are talking about. This is fifth year, I probably should have ate more and been an O-linemen like my brother, senior Matt Joeckel. Matt Davis was one year into college and while he was definitely not a 'refined' QB, nobody was doubting the athleticism oozing out of his pores. He lost the QB job to some kid named Johnny and decided he needed to take his talents elsewhere, fair enough, I don't fault him in the least bit.

But Matt Joeckel? What are you venturing out to do? Start for one-year at a middle tier school and give the NFL a shot? I am pretty sure the coaching staff (or anybody for that matter) would have seen and recognized NFL talent if it was hidden somewhere in Joeckel's right arm. But that doesn't seem to be the case. So instead of sticking it out in Aggie land and being a lovely little insurance option for our now elite program, Joeckel will bolt to a new, likely forgettable, home.

How about we don't thank Matt Joeckel for all the contributions he didn't make? Aggie fans favorite thing to do is hug and kiss every last player who leaves A&M and emphasizes how much they love maroon and all things College Station. Ten bucks says when Matt Joeckel works for TexAgs in three years.

As for the state of our program and our current depth (or lack there of) issue... screw it. If Kenny Hill ends up in a shirtless mug shot after a north gate scuffle and Kyle Allen decides to get paid for signing autographs to a disguised Darren Rovell, well, just ditch this Air-Raid offense and get Tra, Trey and Brandon out there and revitalize the option. Heck, bring back Stephen McGee to be a "toughness consultant" if need be. Plus, our defense returns almost everybody, that means they will be really good right? Wait, you are telling me they weren't good last year? Crap. I may have digressed too far.