Oct. 15, 2016
Is the Gig Up for Kevin Sumlin at Texas A&M?
And I thought 2016 was going to be different this year.
I mentioned around the Tennessee/Texas A&M game earlier this year the Aggies were actually for real. But I drank the Kool-Aid as for the 3rd straight year the Aggies, mentioned as one of the top 5 programs in the nation as of that time, fell apart down the stretch near the end of October. And never to be heard from again.
I thought they had it all. They figured out that they need to play stinging defense against the run in the SEC. They were getting away from the nonsensical Air Raid attack which their prior conference still uses and still loses with and went to a traditional running attack. It looked like Kevin Sumlin was changing his ways and mentality of how to coach a football game.
While the Alabama game signaled the turning point to many, it might have been the Tennessee game that exposed the Aggies as they still were weak on the defensive side, nearly blowing a late, two touchdown lead to the Vols. The Aggies were nearly ran out of their own venue against Tennessee. It had to take overtime to for Texas A&M to win that game. They got the bye the week after, but Alabama trounced them following the bye week, continuing the gaps on the Aggie defense.
Of course, many have pointed out the last few years the Aggies have endured the "Alabama Hangover" alongside LSU, where they are playing good ball only to get to Alabama and lose that game and collapse. Now, what psyche do the Aggies have from losing the Alabama game the last year is something to wonder, but ever since joining the SEC, Texas A&M targeted the Tide as their chief rival. It was somewhat brought to the forefront on the first two games with Johnny Manziel shredding Alabama's defenses (first time a win, but the second time a loss). But it seems like that balloon is popped for Texas A&M after the Alabama game that they cannot recover from. It happened last year too. And the sad part is, these games have been embarrassments (though A&M put up a good fight the last time around, but the 4th quarter they were ran out of Bryant-Denny).
But after the Alabama games, the Aggies go in complete free-fall. Last year, the Aggies got throttled by Ole Miss, Auburn, and LSU after Alabama. This year, nearly the same thing happened. The Aggies lost to an incredibly weak Mississippi State squad, then blew a 22 point lead to Ole Miss AT HOME (also a weakened team), and got demolished by LSU to end their season. And while it wasn't exactly the same way in 2014, the Aggies were penned by many to win the SEC West with the high octane, quick-strike offense led by Kenny Hill only to crash in Mid-October by both Mississippi schools, Alabama, and then LSU to end the season. The trend hasn't stopped for Texas A&M.
And that falls on the coach.
I thought Sumlin learned the error of his ways in 2013 and 2014 with the quick strike offenses weakening your own defenses this year. But it seemed like midway this year, he abandoned the run somewhat (at one time they were near the top of the nation in run offense) and opted to go back to his old style, which has backfired once again, and put his defense back on its heels.............again.
While I do not wish for any misfortune on a coach, because it is their job, the Kevin Sumlin experiment has ran its course. Here are some of a few tell-tale signals it is over and Texas A&M has reached their ceiling with Sumlin:
1. Texas A&M is 1-9 against Alabama and LSU since joining the SEC and when you add Ole Miss they are they are 3-12. Very bad when you are penning the first two teams as your chief rivals to make up for Texas & Oklahoma. If not for Arkansas, their conference record would be way down.
2. Sumlin is losing commitments left & right and having transfers split. A part of it is that there have been stories that Sumlin's handling of Johnny Manziel rubbed recruits the wrong way and it has a vibe of the inmates running the asylum in College Station.
3. The team played without much effort down the stretch. Again, it comes back to the post-Alabama run where they just looked listless playing. Heck, even the UTSA game looked like they didn't want to be there.
It is evident Sumlin is not the right guy for the job at Texas A&M. He tried and it hasn't worked. I think I bought & drank the Kool-Aid once again because the Aggies got off to a good start and the defense was a key reason why. But then I realized Texas A&M had started off with UCLA (who never panned out to be a threat in the PAC-12 at all), Prairieview A&M (FCS), and then getting Auburn when the Tigers were working out some kinks. So they did benefit from a favorable schedule once again. But when he hit that buzzsaw in the SEC West it crumbled and fast. And things are still the same as they were last year and the year before that. And if changes aren't happening on the field, changes need to be made elsewhere.
-Fan in the Obstructed Seat