Friday, December 21, 2012

Last Year's Wishes - Revisited

Oh the difference a year can make.  Last year at this time - gearing up for the whopping Meineke Car Care Bowl (granted we did come through).  This year – can we say Johnny Heisman?  Can we say recruiting overflow?  Can we say epic Cotton Bowl showdown?  Yea, for the bazillionth time… life is good.

This time last year Ben and I made a Christmas wish list, ranging from legitimate on the field wishes (win our bowl game), to fantasy-like desires (bring in real female cheerleaders).  I figured it would be fun to open up the time capsule and give a quick update on how our wishes turned out.  Don’t go back and read the whole article, it will make you feel real weird at how crummy the times were back then.  Stay in the cheerful present.

Last years wish:  A win in the Meineke Car Care Bowl – WE DIT IT.  WE WON THE MEINEKE CAR CARE BOWL!  Dare I say this is where all the momentum started?  I mean when you take care of a national powerhouse like Northwestern in your own Houston backyard you might as well start planning next year’s parade.  Enough sarcasm, we did the only thing a decent team would do, we won.  Our first Christmas wish came true.

Last years wish:  A healthy season for Christine Michael - Who would have thought that this would be the most irrelevant, unneeded wish in history.  I pined for more Christine Michael for the whole first half of the season, saying things like, “sure Ben Malena is solid, but Christine can be GREAT”.  Welp, if I don’t have to eat a full crow, I should definitely take a big bite.  Christine had minor, fleeting contributions, but due to whatever dog house issues that arose (lack of blocking was a rumor) he spent most of this year watching from the sideline as he saw one of his teammates lead the SEC in rushing for majority of the year (a quarterback?).  Honestly, we did just fine without him.  I wish you well though Christine, may your physical beauty lead to NFL success.

Last years wish:  For the Texas A&M higher-ups to shut up – Honestly, I don’t fully remember what this wish was actually referring to?  Maybe Ben knows.  I will use this brief brain fart as an opportunity to give a shout out to our marketing department.  They have done a fantastic job this year, especially now that Manziel has won the Heisman.  Hello David Letterman and Jay Leno!

Last years wish:  Gorilla Glue for the team to stick together – Who knew that Gorilla Glue is also called “Kevin Sumlin and staff”.

Last years wish:  Knee braces to preserve our offensive line – BOOM, spot on with that wish.  Our offensive lineman remained healthy and helped our redshirt freshmen quarterback win the Heisman.  Yea, they did their job and then some.  May they all be rewarded with NFL spoils.

Last years wish:  SEC flashcards to learn about our new opponents – I think Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Miss St, and Auburn need Texas A&M flashcards.  OH SNAP.  (I purposefully left off Missouri... they need general football flashcards).

Last years wish:  Female Cheerleaders – You know what a winning season does?  It makes me forget about petty complaints like why we don’t have babes on our sidelines.  Yell leaders are even cooler when they are yelling for the Heisman winner.  Who knows, will all this innovative thinking going on in College Station… well I have seen crazier things.

Last years wish:  A switch from Adidas to Under Armour – Now my love for Under Armour has not dwindled at all, but Adidas did step up their game this year with some fantastic adaptations of our consistently simple threads.  They earned themselves another year or two.  Maybe Adidas was just uninspired when we were in the Big 12.  I don’t blame them.  I wouldn’t want to blow my uniform load when somebody like Baylor is coming to town either.

Last years wish: A return to Coke after our Pepsi fling – Well, I left College Station and honestly I hear sodas are bad for you.  And why isn’t Dr. Pepper big enough to sponsor an entire campus.  If I am going to die on sodas, I want to drown in those beautiful 23 flavors.  

There you have it.  We were in a dark, petty, whiney place last year.  Since then wishes came true, wishes became irrelevant, and wishes were totally forgotten.  Since then we hired a coach, snagged a quarterback, and gained back the national respect that had begun to dwindle.  

For the bazillionth (plus one) time, life is good (just like Dr. Pepper) in Aggie Land.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Welp, we were wrong...

Have fun in Lubbock Mr. Kingsbury.  Money does talk, but I assure you, the grass is not greener in Lubbock (aesthetically and metaphorically).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Jumping off a Kliff?

Scott and Trey love Kliff Kingsbury... does Texas Tech feel the same way?

Scott:  Alright Trey, it turns out we have some rather conflicting opinions in regards to our beloved Kliff Kingsbury (so why not take it to the web).  He came over with Sumlin, and ultimately played a huge role in our offensive magic show this year.  

His alma mater, Texas Tech, is currently knocking on the door.  Open it up for me Trey.

Trey:  Things are definitely going to get interesting; the word on twitter has it that the Aggies' OC, Kliff Kingsbury, was actually interviewed last night for the Texas Tech Head Coaching position, replacing Take-Out Tubbs.  

Three things:

1. Do you care? - A year ago, this week, Aggies everywhere were complaining, saying Sumlin shouldn't be bringing KK along to A&M at all, let alone as OC. Obviously, that sentiment is gone, but how important is he to our offense?

2. Does Tech offer? - He's a former record-breaking player from Tech so the fans are into him, but does the administration make a move on a guy with such limited experience?

3. Does KK ultimately leave? - Heisman winning freshman QB vs. Head Coach at his alma mater.

Scott:  Solid questions for me to develop my platform.

Of course I care.  He is a blossoming offensive mind that helped create the greatest Aggie season of my coherent lifetime.  Do I think he will stick around forever?  Absolutely not. That is wishful/delirious thinking.  Do I HOPE he sticks around for a couple more years?  No doubt about it.  Could a realistic hope be that he sticks it out as long as Johnny does?  Does our team take a big step back next year if he departs?  Questionable. I could argue that losing both Joeckel and Matthews might be a harder hit... but on that note (and to conclude this thought), I REALLY don't want to lose our starting tackles, our record-setting receiver, AND our offensive coordinator.  That doesn't sound fun.

Second question and ultimately where the argument begins.  Speaking from the perspective of Texas Tech... I ABSOLUTELY OFFER!  Texas Tech is not a top tier job.  It is squarely in the middle, just like Lubbock is to Texas... truly mediocre.  

Now there are multiple layers to this discussion.  Do I think Texas Tech has a savvy, smart, accomplished group serving as their think tank?  No, I don't.  They ran Leach out of town.  Dumb.  Tuberville walked out during dinner.  Shocking.  To the Big East.  Double Shocking.  Things are getting weird in Lubbock.

But this is my argument (with the hope that the Texas Tech think tank doesn't read this blog).  If Tech wants to win and win on the big stage they have to be creative.  They aren't A&M or Texas.  They don't have the support or the resources.  Is Kliff a high risk, high reward option at this point? I absolutely think so.  He is young (not always a bad thing) and has limited experience near the top of the coaching totem pole.  But what has he shown to this point?  TONS.  He very well could be a star in the making.  We aren't sure yet, but, say he goes from star in the making to actual star... well Tech just lost their shot at one of their own.  Kirby Smart is not going to coach at Tech, he is waiting for a BIG job.  Kliff could be there in a couple years too.  So if I am Tech, I understand the risk and the reward and would ultimately push all my chips on the table.

The big questions we don't know:

Does Kliff love Tech?  He was big man on campus once upon a time, but does he still adore his alma mater.  If he does... it is the icing on the cake for Tech, if not, well they still might make a strong run at him.

Does he ultimately leave?  Not sure, A&M better start this process by doubling his salary (400k to 800k), no questions asked.  We print money, and that would be 400k in a worthwhile place.  How much could Tech offer?  Money always talks, so does the opportunity to start the head coaching process WAY early than anyone expects or could hope for.

Phew, I am already worn out... come back at me Trey!

Trey:  Good stuff. Well I'm glad we agree on one thing, he definitely is appreciated at A&M by the fans and hopefully by the administration (GIVE THE MAN HIS RAISE!).

But you're telling me he's ready to be THE guy at an AQ school? For starters, he's only been called "Coach" for 5 years; 2 as "quality control" (whatever that means), 2 as Co-Offensive Coordinator at Houston where he went 17-8 in C-USA, and 1 as Offensive Coordinator at A&M. Yes he had a great year this year, but how many times did the play break down and JFF improvised it into a TD? Truthfully, we don't know, because he isn't seasoned enough for Tech to know what they would be getting. Add to that, Keenum was already a record breaking QB before KK got a hold of him.

Dang dude, look what you're doing to me! I don't WANT to be discrediting KK but you're making me point out what should be obvious to those searching for a head coach.

*sigh* OK, I'm going back in.

His in-experience is more than just calling plays or running an offense; does he even go on the road to recruit? Who is he going to hire to his staff? I hope he made a bunch of friends last week in Orlando because he's going to be calling any defensive coordinator he can get his hands on if offered the job. How many of them will be excited to work under a 33 year-old out in Lubbock? You make the case that Tech is desparate and needs to do something un-orthodox, well you'll only entertain conversations with defensive coordinators who are as equally desparate.

Look, by NO MEANS AT ALL am I trying to hate on our boy Kliff, he's as bright a star as there is in our program at the moment; but guess what, Johnny Manziel isn't ready to go to the NFL just yet either. It's just apples and oranges at this point.

That's just why Tech shouldn't (understand I'm not saying wouldn't, because they are a rather idiotic bunch at the moment and could do anything) offer Kliff. I haven't even begun to discuss the benefits he has if he stays at A&M for a few more years.

Ball is in your court, Scotty Ice.

Scott:  I think we can definitely agree with the statement, "probably not ready" when it comes to Kliff and a head coaching job.  But as I mentioned before, if the big wigs at Tech think he will one day be "fully ready" (and both of us do think that), then their only chance to snag him is now.  

All of my thoughts are based around this opinion.  Kliff is awesome, Kliff is young, Kliff is charismatic, Kliff looks a bit like Ryan Gosling, and Kliff will make a GREAT head coach one day.  If Tech thinks the exact same thing, then they might throw their chips on the table for him.  

Another sticky part of the situation; unless he is openly pining/flirting for the job to Tech officials, I think most of my arguments become moot.  So much of this situation is Texas Tech being his alma mater.  I love my alma mater, but my alma mater isn't Texas Tech (although to their credit, they are actually pretty darn loyal/good fans, especially when compared with the pathetic "fans" at TCU or Baylor).  And I am always intrigued by coaches going back to their alma mater and taking them to the glory land, BUT honestly, that happens way less thea expected.  Furthermore, it might not actually be a good idea; giving way for too much "feeling" or "emotion" that cannot be mixed with objective, rational thinking.  

BUT WAIT, why am I blabbering about the "thinking" of a college football coach, the closest thing I have been to coaching was a college powder-puff team full of babes (and you were right by my side for that Mr. Bahney).  Silly tangent I got on there.

Correct me if I am wrong, but you think he would be dumb to take it right?  I have to disagree with that.  I have zero doubt that Kliff is a confident guy who thinks he will be running his own team in the not so distant future.  If some business offered you triple/quadruple what you are making now and said, "hey, we think you have incredible potential and will dominate this new job in the near future, you might not be ready at this exact moment, but we can deal with the growing pains." Well da gum, where do I sign Mr. Encouraging Boss.

The search for a defensive coordinator and the recruiting angle you brought up... I honestly don't have a response.  Open up the bank for a defensive coordinator, and hope a savvy offensive mind can woo recruits.  Seems simple to me (actually sounds somewhat similar to what A&M did).

Alright, digest and spit it back Bahney

Trey:  Nice shout out to our dominant run-stuffing blitz schemes (powderpuff is pretty straight-forward: blitz the corners all day).

Yep, Tech students are rather good at supporting their alma mater, but Kingsbury has the dynamic of seeing Mike Leach, his first real mentor, get run out of town in the middle of the night so there's no telling what he thinks. Normally, I would say we could look to his twin, Ryan Gosling, to see how much allegiance he has towards his college of choice but Gosling didn't even graduate high school so that is of no use. (Also, how fascinating that Ryan Gosling and Justin Timberlake lived together for 6 months when they were 14! Do you think that's what people will be saying that about us 20 years from now?)

I'm off track.

Ok, back to the topic at hand. Yes I think Kingsbury's career would ultimately be handicapped if it included a premature trip through Lubbock, but I do see your point in that it can't be considered a "dumb move" if he were to take the huge promotion. It's just that, at the end of the day, fans want legacy coaches because there is a better chance the coach will stay forever (assuming they blossom into an awesome and successful coach), but even if he did love Tech, he's not going to see Tech as a destination job. If he does go, look for him to ride a two-year stint and a 5-19 record at Tech into a head coaching job at a place like Auburn (cue Gene Chizik joke).

All opinions aside, here's to hoping he stays! He's got the Heisman Trophy winner under his wing for three more years, EIGHT more stud receivers coming in next year to go with our leading receiver, Mike Evans for three more years, and a whole slew of talented running backs in Trey Williams, Ben Malena, Brandon Williams, and Tre Carson. That would be like giving Achilles a machine gun.

Scott:  Uh oh, we are getting soft with each other now; I was expecting some icy tension.  Kliff's charisma is melting us right in the midst of our argument.

How can we not love EVERYTHING that was even the slightest bit involved with Texas A&M this year, let alone our offensive coordinator.  He has unlimited toys to play with during the next couple seasons (as long as our offensive line develops new studs), why not hang out and enjoy it?  Time (and ladies) is on his side.

I hope the all mighty Coach Sumlin has some heart to heart chats with him and simply reminds Kliff what A&M is building. 

And where Lubbock is on the map (geographically and metaphorically).

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Golden Era

When Scott and I decided to create a blog last year, it was largely driven by an extreme sense of frustration with the football program of our alma mater. We thought we could bring a fresh, realistic voice to the Aggie football conversation. Our qualifications really didn’t add up to anything more than both of us being raised in an environment devoid of irrational maroon passion and a shared interest in analytical baseball blogs, but the truth is that qualified or not, at that point in time, there was a truckload of material to write about.

A day that will live in infamy
Think about it. In the last 8 years alone, we had seen THREE coaching changes, the rise and fall of the most heralded Aggie quarterback since Bucky Richardson, bowl embarrassment after bowl embarrassment, a 77-0 loss at the hands of a conference rival, the uncovering of a paid subscription newsletter run by the head coach himself, multiple losing seasons, a pipeline of NFL talent going completely dry, a terrible record against ranked opponents, and last but not least, a move to the SEC that the entire fan base supported but was publicly undercut by A&M’s own athletic director, Bill Byrne.

All of that (and more), in just eight years! Blogs could practically write themselves with so much low-hanging fruit. Struggling for material was simply not possible.

This year, however, has turned everything we have come to know and loathe about the Aggie football program on its head. When things are so good, it’s really tough to write about. The games spoke for themselves! You can get the lovey-dovey stuff elsewhere. It’s not that we don’t enjoy the nice stuff; it’s that we realize we aren’t adding anything by recapping how awesome life is in Aggieland.

I do want to point out the fact that we are currently sitting in what will be looked at as the beginning of a golden era in Aggie football and a seismic shift in the balance of regional power.

If you’re on the outside looking in, let’s say maybe you support the University of Texas; you may call it the beginning of the end. This is just the tip of the iceberg folks. This year (and next, if they keep Mack Brown around until then) is only prolonging the inevitable for the Longhorn program. They’re done.

I'd rather have Stephen McGee
The product on the field is awful. Anyone with a positive IQ watching their games will tell you their QBs suck, their defense can’t tackle, and the team has no heart. Longhorns are even admitting it! They are like Yankee fans, except Yankee fans typically behave in a semi-rational manner. It takes a lot for Longhorns to admit that their team is filled with a bunch of spare tires. We are there now. If you’re an Aggie, chances are the downfall of UT is almost as fulfilling as the rise of A&M.

The shift doesn’t stop with the Longhorns though. It has now begun to rear its beautiful head between A&M and LSU. As you’re probably well aware, this morning Ricky Seals-Jones, the No. 1 recruit in the state of Texas, committed to play at A&M, choosing the Aggies over LSU. I am not na├»ve enough to think that one recruit will tip any scale, but I do believe that Seals-Jones choosing A&M is a sign of things to come.

LSU has made a habit of stealing solid recruits out of East Texas, from right under A&M’s thumb. If you were worried Coach Sumlin and his staff were going to let that continue, that concern (or hope) was probably allayed this morning. In fact, Miles’ stronghold on the state of Louisiana may loosen in the coming years. On the field, everyone thought LSU would physically manhandle the Aggies, and we know how that turned out.

The gap between A&M and LSU is not near as large as we originally feared, and it’s narrowing with each new commit. And as long as Mack Brown is running the circus at the Forty Acres, the only advantage I see UT having over A&M is in the amount of TV networks they own.

Welcome to the beginning of a golden era. Be happy with 10-2 and a Heisman trophy, but raise your expectations. This thing is only getting started.