Disclaimer: I am about to write a bunch of stuff about UT, our relationship with them, their inevitable coaching transition and what it means to me (and Texas A&M). If you are one that despises the idea of giving UT even the faintest time of day, well this may annoy you. Texas A&M and UT will always be intertwined. That is (geographically) obvious. I don’t like ignoring my surroundings, I like understanding them. Texas A&M is, without out a doubt, the toast of Texas at the moment. We have all the momentum in the great Republic of Texas and I want to keep it. So you can bet your ass, that I am always keeping an eye on our friends down the road.
With that disclaimer in mind, I assure you, my life is not consumed by what UT does on a day to day basis, I just love rooting against them (which I would argue makes me a better fan). I will root against them until their arrogance has been muddled down into a small, sad pool of despair. Plain and simple, I still reside in the great Republic of Texas and as long as I do, I will be surrounded by Longhorn fans. And if I am going to be surrounded by them, I want their team to fall flat on their face every Saturday and I want those people to be generally unhappy as a sports fan. That’s just how I am as a fan. I don’t acknowledge moral victories and I don’t like my rivals to succeed. I don’t think that’s wrong of me (ok, it is a bit malicious). UT and Texas A&M are the two largest, most established, most nationally respected universities in the great Republic of Texas; that definitely means something. Should we be playing each other every year? Honestly, I say yes. I understand the argument against it (shoving it back in their face, not giving them the time of day, etc.), but at the end of the day, the two great powers of Texas should face off; it’s the right thing to do.
Five short years ago (unfortunately right in the middle of my collegiate career) UT was far superior to us, I won't ever deny that, but in the last two years the tides have turned in the most dramatic of fashions. UT is swimming in a great big pool of mediocrity and we are sun bathing on our yacht. I have said before, if I was a smart fan not driven by emotion, I would root for UT every few weeks to pull out some sneaky victories, stumble into eight wins and hopefully keep Mack Brown’s corpse around for another year of Aggie enjoyment. I struggle to do that though. I enjoy their losses too much. Barring some miraculous finish, it looks like the writing is on the wall for ole Mack. And while I enjoy the circus until then, I can’t help but to acknowledge their potential to turn it around.
The right coach can make all the difference. Coaching matters more in football than any other sport (by a landslide). So let’s address a couple widespread rumors that have entertained me. The only way Nick Saban is coming to UT is if, his tyrannical brain thinks it would be beneficial to his legacy to build another dynasty. It won’t be about money. Could UT pay Saban more money than Bama? Yes, in a vacuum, probably so. Will it get to a high enough dollar figure to make Bama bow out? No way. There is no precedent for it. Would UT double the already highest salary in college football? Maybe, but that’s still only gets it to nearly $12 million. Would Bama match that? I think so. The highest college football coaching salary is not going to jump from $6 million dollars a year to $20 million with the snap of some donor’s fingers. There may be multiple $10-20 million dollar coaches in 5-10 years, but not next year. So yea, the only way Saban is leaving is if he thinks it would be fun to try and build another dynasty in the powderpuff Big 12. It’s not money, it’s not allure, it will be what Saban’s crazed mind desires.
Let’s address another relevant rumor with a bold prediction. The only way Kevin Sumlin leaves A&M (through his own will) is for an NFL job. He isn’t going to USC. I am a realist (as evidenced by the early portion of this post), yet I still don’t think there is any chance Sumlin leaves us for another program. We will match any semi-outlandish offer, we have a rabid fan base, we are in the process of taking over the lush Texas recruiting grounds, and we play on the grandest stage of all, the SEC. We aren’t the premier program in the nation by any means, but I don’t believe any other coaching job is leaps and bounds above Texas A&M. Sumlin is a savvy mind, a superb motivator, and overall a dynamic leader. And I truly believe he knows the grass isn’t greener on anybody else’s field. And yes, that means I think the outlandish Sumlin to UT rumors are just that… outlandish.
Moving back to UT and USC; as Clay Travis and so many others have already reiterated, the fact that two of the premier college football programs will be searching for a coach at the same time is quite fascinating. Rumors will be plentiful, and honestly I have no idea which direction these programs will go. I don’t follow my Southern California news very closely, so I am going to leave that one to the other experts. But here in Texas, I am fascinated by what is to come next. The wrong hire will stall the program for another five years, but the right hire? Well, they will be back to national prominence within a year or two. I hope they get caught up in making a splashy hire and neglect the next great coach. Go ahead, bring Muschamp back, I can live with that. You know who I might be most scared of? Art Briles.
Sidenote: It still baffles me that Arkansas didn’t throw the kitchen sink at him. It made all the sense in the world, the offensive system, the Texas ties, it would have been a dynamic hire. Instead they went with an accomplished Big Ten coach who will likely help them become, at best, a mediocre team unable to surpass the powerhouses.
I won’t ramble off anymore coaching names, instead I will just encourage you to read my buddy Crawford Jones’ thorough breakdown. Crawford knows a thing or two about college football having played under Sumlin at the University of Houston. So enjoy his breakdown and make your own prediction. (Oh and look forward to me peer-pressuring Crawford into an expose of what it was like playing under Sumlin).
Texas has a great deal of pressure on themselves at the moment. We know what that feels like. I wish them zero luck.