Monday, August 10, 2015

Off-Season Recap

Here we are now in the doldrums of summer.  That strange time of the year after the College World Series when baseball ends and before the fall camp opens up for football.

So let's catch up....

Liberty Bowl: Ags 45 vs. West Virginia 37

The game started out fast and furious with the Mountaineers leading 20-14 at the end of the 1st Q but the Ags scored 17 points on their first three posessions of the second half to break the game open.

We ran for 235 yards with Tra Carson shouldering the load with 133 yards on 25 carries and Trey Williams picking up an additional 83 yards on 6 carries.  Kyle Allen threw for four TDs and ran for another en route to being named the Liberty Bowl MVP.

(The horns, by the way, did draw Arkansas in the Texas Bowl and were completely embarrassed by the Hogs, 31-7.  The horns managed 59 yards of offense and only 2 yards rushing against the team that finished last in the SEC West. Tyrone Swoops accounted for 19 yards of total offense - he was the starting QB and played the entire game.)

Here.

Aggieland felt the losses of two legends of the program this past spring.

Billy Pickard '56 passed away in March.  Mr. Pickard was a tough old boy who served as a student trainer for Bear Bryant back at Junction - and every coach since under a variety of roles.  I had one brief encounter with him back several years when Sean and I were trying to navigate around the exterior of Kyle Field while they were doing some sort of renovation to the south endzone.  There was a good article on him in the 12th Man Magazine a couple of years back.

A&M's first Heisman winner, John David Crow '58, also passed away back in June.  I met Mr. Crow on a couple of occasions and he was always really nice and shared a laugh or two.  I have a picture of him with me and Sean that hangs above my desk and my son has a picture with him that hangs next to his bed.

Both men will be dearly missed by the program and the fans.

Signing Day

February was the craziest close to National Signing Day for A&M that I've ever followed.

5* DT Daylan Mack decommitted prior to the bowl game and then 5* QB Kyler Murray took a secret visit to Austin with WR Demarkus Lodge (who had decommitted from us back in the fall).  I don't think Mack took anyone by surprise - his entire recruitment was going to be a roller coaster - but Kyler turned the entire fan base on it's ear.

Thankfully (THANKFULLY!) all ended well there and both Kyler and Mack signed with the good guys.  5* WR Christian Kirk also added his name to the list.


Murray finished his career at Allen HS 43-0 with back-to-back-to-back 6A State Championships and was both the Texas and National Gatorade Player of the Year....even having to play his entire season season on the road as the Allen football stadium underwent construction.

Not only did we have to sweat out Kyler signing, but then all focus shifted on the MLB Draft in June.  We got another nice boost of confidence when Kyler "opted out" of the draft (which isn't really a thing in the baseball draft since you don't declare yourself eligible like you do in football or basketball, but he essentially notified all teams that he would not sign).

Kirk was the Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year and athlete Deshawn Capers-Smith was the Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year (he was a QB but we will play him at corner).

We addressed every single position of need - particularly at OL and S.  I feel like the only place where we missed out a little was at CB and maybe one more LB just for depth.  We also brought in Blinn QB Jake Hubenak after signing day to fill out the 3-deep (and compete for the backup spot), which was a great pickup for that spot.

The staff also hit the transfers hard, bringing in former 5* RB Keith Ford from Oklahoma and former 5* CB Priest Willis from UCLA (another Arizona boy for Sumlin & Co.).  They will both have to sit out 2015 but should step in nicely in 2016.

The class finished 9th nationally, but 6th in the SEC.

Almost as important as anything - this was a solid class of kids.  After seeing the 2013 class disappear from the roster, Sumlin has really put a lot of emphasis on not only the best kids, but the right kids. There was not a single grade/transcript issue - every single player qualified and is on campus right now.  That is a nice change.

To be totally honest - the insane drama this year has really burnt me out on recruiting right now, I haven't kept up with the 2016 class at all - and we are already handing out offers for 2017.

NFL Draft
For the third consecutive year, an Aggie offensive lineman was selected in the first round of the NFL draft as the Cincinatti Bengals snatched up Big Ced with the 21st overall pick. 

Here is a quick list of where our boys will start out their pro careers:
  • Cedric Ogbuehi - Cincinnati - (1st round, #21 overall)
  • Jarvis Harrison - New York Jets (5th round)
  • Floyd Raven - Cincinnati (UFA)
  • Cam Clear - Pittsburgh (UFA)
  • Deshazor Everett - Tampa Bay (UFA)
  • Josh Lambo - San Diego (UFA)
  • Trey Williams -Houston ((UFA; then picked up by Washington)
  • Jamielle Showers - Dallas (UFA)

Attrition

Outside of the guys who graduated or left early we have had some additional attrition...
  • WR Quiv Gonzalez transferred out back in April and has ended up following his WR Coach, David Beaty, to Kansas
  • Darzil Washington has transferred to Louisiana-Lafayette
  • DL Jay Arnold underwent surgery in the spring and has decided to retire
  • QB Kenny Hill transferred to TCU
  • OL Zach Ledwick left the team to focus on his degree
  • MLB Jordan Mastrogiovanni also left the team to focus on his degree
  • WR Kyrion Parker transferred out (I'm not sure where he landed)
  • DL Tyrone Taylor is no longer on the roster
  • OL Kimo Tipoti retired from football
  • Brett Wade retired due to injury
  • Jonathan Wiggins retired due to injury
  • DL Darrell Jackson has retired - took a medical hardship after unsuccessful knee surgery
  • Trey Williams declared himself eligible for the draft and signed with the Redskins as a UFA
Future Schedules

There has been quite a bit of information that has come out since the season ended regarding our future schedules.

They finalized our 2015 OoC games with Ball State, Nevada, and Western Carolina accompanying the big Arizona State game at Reliant Stadium.

Still on the schedule is the home-and-home with UCLA for 2016 (H)/2017 (A).  The game at Kyle will be the first game at the 100% "new" Kyle Field....but the real gem is getting to play at Rose Bowl in 2017.  We also inked ULaLa for 2017.

The Oregon series for 2018/2019 was canceled, which was really disappointing for me.  It was, however, replaced by Clemson which is another great OoC opponent (although not quite at the same level as Oregon).  Those games will be 9/8/18 at Kyle Field and 9/7/19 in South Carolina

We announced a home and home with former Big 12 rival, Colorado, for 9/19/20 at Kyle Field, 9/11/21 in Boulder.

The biggest news was an announcement of Notre Dame in 2024/2025 (8/31/24 at Kyle & 9/27/25 in South Bend).  My only regret from college was not going to the Notre Dame game for the season opener of my freshman year.  I get to make it up 25 years later - and likely several $$$ more than it would have cost me back then.

That means, as it stands today, my annual road trip schedule will most likely look like this:

  • 2015: at Vandy
  • 2016: at 'Bama
  • 2017: at UCLA
  • 2018: TBD
  • 2019: at Georgia
  • 2020: TBD
  • 2021: at Colorado
  • 2022: TBD 
  • 2023: at Tennessee 
  • 2024: TBD
  • 2025: at Notre Dame
The away game year flipped between the Oregon/Clemson series and is screwing me up those years - I was planning Oregon in 2018 and an undisputed trip to Georgia in 2019.  Now I have to choose between Clemson and UGA.  Seeing a game "Between the Hedges" has been on my bucket list so I'm leaning towards to Athens rather than Clemson.

You'll notice that all of our big OoC road games are in odd years to balance out our schedule (we play 'Bama, Auburn, SC, and MSU on the road in even years).  I really don't get excited about a trip to Columbus or Starkville....I guess we could repeat a trip to 'Bama or Auburn.

I'm going to start saving up now for that Notre Dame trip - those tickets are going to be BONKERS expensive.


Fall camp starts up this week and the season opener is now only 26 days away!  The countdown is on!  WHOOP!

Friday, January 23, 2015

A&M Lands Chavis!!

Kevin Sumlin went out and got his man.  He was patient through this entire process, didn't waiver, didn't concern himself with what the mob was yelling about, kept it incredibly close to his vest, and he stuck a 10 point landing.

What a crazy process. 


John Chavis is SEC football. He has been an elite defensive coordinator in the league for the last 20 years.  We wanted a tried and true SEC defensive coach and we got him.

A&M has faced him 5 times in his career ('04 Cotton Bowl, '11 Cotton Bowl, 2012, 2013, 2014) and managed just 14.8 points per game.  He's the only guy who stone walled Johnny.  Shoot, Nick Saban couldn't even do it.  Chavis did it twice.

So let's take a look at what we're getting....
  • Tennessee '78
  • Base 4-3 defense
  • 1979 Tennessee - Graduate Asst.
  • 1980-1983 Alabama A&M - Defensive Line
  • 1984-1985 Alabama State - Defensive Coordinator
  • 1986-1988 Alabama A&M - Defensive Coordinator
  • 1989-1994 Tennessee - Defensive Line/Linebackers
  • 1995-2008 Tennessee - Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
  • 2009-2014 LSU - Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers

        Rush D      Pass D      Total D   Scoring D
      ==========  ==========  ==========  =========
2000   74.3 (3)   220.2 (69)  294.5 (13)  19.3 (23)
2001   85.3 (3)   218.3 (59)  303.6 (13)  19.5 (21)
2002  128.6 (33)  156.2 (4)   284.9 (5)   17.5 (11)
2003  138.3 (43)  186.1 (20)  324.4 (22)  18.4 (17)
2004  120.0 (25)  236.4 (86)  356.4 (45)  22.7 (38)
2005   82.5 (2)   215.7 (54)  298.2 (7)   18.6 (16)
2006  146.7 (72)  180.9 (27)  327.5 (50)  19.5 (33)
2007  164.6 (69)  238.6 (73)  403.3 (70)  27.3 (61)
2008  103.1 (12)  160.4 (4)   263.5 (3)   16.8 (10)
2009  133.4 (46)  194.2 (29)  327.6 (26)  16.2 (11)
2010  137.3 (42)  169.9 (10)  307.2 (12)  18.2 (11)
2011   90.1 (5)   171.4 (8)   261.5 (2)   11.3 (2) 
2012  101.6 (9)   206.0 (28)  307.6 (8)   17.5 (12)
2013  143.2 (35)  197.5 (13)  340.7 (15)  22.0 (21) 
2014  152.7 (46)  164.2 (3)   316.8 (9)   17.5 (5)

LSU National Defensive Rankings
       BEFORE        DURING    
       07 08   09 10 11 12 13 14 
       =====   ================= 
Rush D 12 17   46 42  5  9
Pass D  9 73   29 10  8 28 
 Tot D  3 32   26 12  2  8
Scor D 17 56   11 11  2 12

Tennessee National Defensive Rankings
        BEFORE                    DURING                  AFTER
        93 94  95 96 97 98 99 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08  09 10
        =====  =========================================  =====
Rush D  12 43  13 15  8  6  7  3  3 33 43 25  2 72 69 12  65 60
Pass D   5 40  46  8 36 17 36 69 59  4 20 86 54 27 73  4  12 81
 Tot D  13 33  24  5 32 17 11 13 13  5 22 45  7 50 70  3  22 69
Scor D   5 14  32  6 32  9  7 23 21 11 17 38 16 33 61 10  38 56 
 
*note from '93-'99 had to use Pass Efficiency rankings rather than Pass Defense 


Do you remember that Cotton Bowl at the end of 2004 when we played Tennessee?  That team demolished us.  The defense completely ate us up.  We were a top 20 offense that year and we were held 120 yards and 23 points BELOW our season averages.

That was the second WORST defense Chavis has ever fielded.

Everything I've read explains that he loves to play man coverage and blitz from lots of different places.  This puts a huge amount of pressure on the corners - leaving them on an island, so we will need to keep an eye on CB recruits over the next couple of years because I'm not sure we have those horses on campus (or if we do we haven't seen it out of them yet).

Welcome to Aggieland Chief!

Sumlin also filled the WR Coaching position with Aaron Moorehead, previously in the same position at VT and the before that, at Stanford.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Coaching Updates

Lots and nothing has happened since my last post.  A strange combination, no?

First of all, WR Coach/Recruiting Coordinator David Beaty took the HC job at Kansas - that one hurts on the recruiting front.

Sumlin also relieved OL coach, BJ Anderson, of his duties.

All things point to Utah OC, Dave Christensen, officially being introduced at some point this week as OL Coach/Run Game Coordinator (Spav will still be the OC and will call plays)

Christensen was previously the HC at Wyoming and prior to that, the OC at Mizzou during their glory years with Chase Daniels.  This, by all indications, is a home run hire.

In terms of DC, we've heard essentially every combination of candidates imaginable.

Muschamp did sign with Auburn, Pelini took the HC job at Youngstown State, and Dave Steckel took the HC job at Missouri State.  Sumlin passed on both Pelini and Steckel, and has also showed zero interest in Venables.

Foster is still out there although rumors are that he has signed an extension - but I haven't seen anything official on that front.

There has also been a combo hire floated of Greg Mattison and Florida DC D.J. Durkin.  That would be pretty stout.

Then last week, there were rumors floating that LSU DC, John Chavis, was insulted by his contract extension offer and has engaged in talks with Sumlin.  Chavis would be OUTSTANDING.  I think he is the #1 DC in the country outside of Nick Saban - who isn't even a DC.

Sumlin has mentioned that he will likely have all three positions finalized by the end of this coming week.  We'll have to see - should be exciting.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Potential Defensive Coordinators?

WHY CAN'T WE FIELD A GREAT DEFENSE?

When Sumlin hired Coach Snyder, I felt it was an underwhelming hire but looking back, it was probably in line with where we were as a program/defense.  It was a big hire in terms of importance and it didn't work out, which makes this hire even more important.

It has been said that this go-round Sumlin has an open checkbook to make this hire and all rumors are pointing to us swinging for the fences.

It just so happened that Will Muschamp was fired from his head coaching position by Florida, instantly making him the top defensive coordinator available.  Shortly after Sumlin let go of Snyder, Auburn followed suit and let go their DC and threw their name in the ring.  There are also very strong rumors that South Carolina is going after him - but they haven't fired their DC yet.

I think he is the #1 target for Coach Sumlin and the rest of the candidates hinge on his decision.

Will Muschamp
  • Georgia '94
  • Base 4-3 defense
  • 2001 LSU - Linebackers
  • 2002-2003 LSU - Defensive Coordinator
  • 2004-2005 Miami Dolphins - Asst HC/Co-DC
  • 2006-2007 Auburn - Defensive Coordinator
  • 2008-2010 texas - Defensive Coordinator/Head Coach in Waiting
  • 2011-2014 Florida - Head Coach
            Rush D      PassD       Total D   Scoring D
          ==========  ==========  ==========  =========
2002 LSU  134.1 (40)   152.7 (2)   286.8 (8)  18.3 (15)
2003 LSU   67.0 (3)    185.0 (18)  252.0 (1)  11.0 (1)
2004 NFL  ----------  ----------  ----------  ---------
2005 NFL  ----------  ----------  ----------  ---------
2006 AUB  124.2 (45)  168.2 (14)   292.3 (19) 13.9 (7)
2007 AUB  124.7 (29)  173.2 (6)    297.9 (6)  16.9 (6) 
2008 tu    83.5 (3)   259.4 (104)  342.9 (51) 18.8 (18)
2009 tu    72.4 (1)   179.6 (19)   251.9 (3)  16.7 (12)
2010 tu   139.6 (44)  161.6 (6)    300.2 (6)  23.7 (49)
2011 FLA  132.7 (40)  166.9 (7)    299.5 (8)  21.3 (20)
2012 FLA   93.9 (4)   192.5 (17)   287.5 (5)  14.5 (5)
2013 FLA  142.4 (33)  171.8 (7)    314.3 (8)  21.1 (15)
2014 FLA  116.8 (12)  194.2 (23)   311.0 (9)  21.2 (24)

There isn't much more that needs to be said.  His defenses are always sick.  Only twice since 2002 has his defense been worse than 9th in the country - across four different schools.

He also coached under Nick Saban from 2001-2005. 

The biggest concern, in my opinion, is that if we hire Coach Boom, we're going to go through this entire ordeal again in a couple of years because he's going to get another HC opportunity.  

Bud Foster
  • Murray State '80
  • Base 4-2-5 defense
1981-1982 Murray State - Grad Asst
1983-1985 Murray State - Outside LB
1986 Murray State - Outside & Inside LB
1987-1992 Virginia Tech - Outside LB
1993-1994 Virginia Tech - Outside/Inside LB & Special Teams
1995 Virginia Tech - Co-Defensive Coordinator
1996-2014 Virginia Tech - Defensive Coordinator

         Rush D      PassD      Total D   Scoring D
      ==========  ==========  ==========  =========
1999   75.9 (2)               247.3 (3)    10.5 (1)
2000   99.3 (16)  224.4 (77)  323.6 (27)   22.6 (45)
2001   71.6 (2)   166.3 (8)   237.9 (2)    13.4 (2)
2002  121.4 (29)  213.6 (56)  335.1 (32)   18.8 (21)
2003  136.0 (39)  231.5 (76)  367.5 (51)   23.0 (45)
2004  115.2 (21)  152.8 (4)   268.0 (4)    12.9 (2)
2005   93.4 (8)   154.2 (3)   247.6 (1)    12.9 (2)
2006   91.2 (11)  128.2 (1)   219.5 (1)    11.0 (1)
2007   86.6 (5)   210.3 (31)  296.9 (4)    16.1 (3)
2008  104.4 (14)  175.0 (16)  279.4 (7)    16.7 (9)
2009  128.4 (40)  167.1 (11)  295.5 (12)   15.6 (9)
2010  155.9 (64)  205.6 (40)  361.5 (52)   20.6 (26)
2011  104.1 (14)  200.6 (31)  304.6 (10)   17.6 (7)
2012  134.1 (28)  199.1 (24)  333.2 (18)   22.9 (32)
2013  110.9 (10)  172.7 (8)   283.6 (4)    19.3 (11)
2014  144.8 (41)  186.8 (14)  331.7 (17)   20.4 (17)

Once in the last 11 seasons has his team been outside of the top 20 in total defense. Wow.

Foster has coached with Frank Beamer for his entire career, starting as a GA in 1981 when Beamer took over the Murray State HC job. He has always been a defacto HC in Waiting at Virginia Tech, turning down countless jobs, but in recent years he has started to inquire about HC jobs as they come open.

So why now?  There are some who think that Foster might now be passed over by VT when Beamer retires in order to get fresh blood in the program.  He doesn't even need to worry about a new wardrobe - bring all your Hokie maroon with you.

Honestly, this would be a HUGE hire.

If Muschamp is 1A, then Bud Foster is 1B

I also have to respect his hat bill - that's good work there

Brent Venables
  • Kansas State '92
  • Base 4-2-5 defense
  • 1993-1998 Kansas State - Linebackers
  • 1999-2003 Oklahoma - Co-DC/Linebackers
  • 2004-2011 Oklahoma - Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers
  • 2012-2014 Clemson - Defensive Coordinator
            Rush D      PassD       Total D   Scoring D
          ==========  ==========  ==========  =========
2002 OU   107.9 (14)  185.3 (25)  293.1 (10)  15.4 (6)
2003 OU   113.2 (20)  146.4 (2)   259.6 (3)   15.3 (5)
2004 OU    94.6 (6)   204.4 (48)  299.0 (13)  16.8 (11)
2005 OU    90.6 (4)   216.1 (56)  306.7 (13)  23.1 (37)
2006 OU    98.7 (16)  188.4 (41)  287.1 (16)  17.3 (19)
2007 OU   110.3 (17)  228.1 (59)  338.4 (26)  20.3 (19)
2008 OU   116.5 (20)  251.5 (99)  367.7 (68)  24.5 (58)
2009 OU    92.9 (8)   179.7 (20)  272.6 (8)   14.5 (7) 
2010 OU   148.9 (58)  212.9 (51)  361.9 (53)  21.8 (33)
2011 CLEM 176.9 (83)  217.5 (50)  394.4 (71)  29.3 (81)
2012 CLEM 155.9 (57)  240.3 (71)  396.2 (63)  24.9 (48)
2013 CLEM 155.7 (52)  201.0 (16)  356.7 (25)  22.2 (24)
2014 CLEM  97.7 (7)   161.9 (3)   259.6 (1)   17.6 (7)

Brent Venables is a great defensive coach, and a very good recruiters, but I can't stand him.  Mostly it is from the way the Corey Nelson recruitment went.  That said, I was able to work past the same issue with Kingsbury a couple years ago so I could make due.

I don't think he is in quite the same cut as the two guys I have above - and the numbers show it.  He left OU because Bob Stoops wanted to hire his brother, whichever one just got fired from where ever, to be their DC.

His defense is known to be fluid in terms of formations - and he likes to blitz and blitz and blitz some more.

Bo Pelini
  • Ohio State '90
  • Base 4-3 defense
  • 1994-1996 San Francisco 49ers - Defensive Backs
  • 1997-1999 New England Patriots - Linebackers
  • 2000-2002 Green Bay Packers - Linebackers
  • 2003 Nebraska - Defensive Coordinator
  • 2004 Oklahoma - Co-Defensive Coordinator
  • 2005-2007 LSU - Defensive Coordinator
  • 2008-2014 Nebraska - Head Coach
            Rush D      PassD       Total D   Scoring D
          ==========  ==========  ==========  =========
2003 NEB  119.3 (24)  177.9 (11)  297.2 (11)  14.5 (2)
2004 OU    94.6 (6)   204.4 (48)  299.0 (13)  16.8 (11) 
2005 LSU   91.5 (6)   175.3 (11)  266.9 (3)   14.2 (3)
2006 LSU   97.1 (14)  145.7 (3)   242.8 (3)   12.3 (4)
2007 LSU  106.1 (12)  182.7 (9)   288.8 (3)   19.9 (19)
2008 NEB  116.2 (21)  233.4 (89)  349.9 (55)  28.5 (80)
2009 NEB   93.1 (9)   178.9 (18)  272.0 (7)   10.4 (1)
2010 NEB  153.1 (63)  153.6 (5)   306.8 (11)  17.4 (9)
2011 NEB  158.5 (64)  192.2 (18)  350.7 (37)  23.4 (42)
2012 NEB  192.5 (90)  168.1 (4)   360.6 (35)  27.6 (58)
2013 NEB  156.2 (53)  214.6 (33)  370.8 (40)  24.8 (50)
2014 NEB  176.5 (78)  196.3 (26)  372.8 (48)  24.8 (48)

Bo Pelini is one of those guys that I look at and think of being a defensive coordinator for life.  He is a really good defensive coordinator - I'd even go so far as to say elite.  He's a decent head coach, but his bread and butter is coaching up defenses.

Like Muschamp, Pelini was fired from his head coaching gig at Nebraska within the last few weeks.  He was consistently good but never great - winning 9 games, 10 games, 10 games, 9 games, 10 games, 9 games, 9 games.  It wasn't enough for the Huskers.

Frankly, just employing him to have the Fake Pelini twitter account stay alive would be doing the entire college football world a huge favor.

Also like Muschamp, I think Pelini will get another head coaching job within the next couple of years.

Others

There are also whispers of guys like Greg Mattison (DC at Michigan - who just fired HC Brady Hoke) or Dave Steckel (DC at Mizzou) or Gene Chizik (former Auburn HC).

Mattison is a great coach but I don't break out in a smile when I think of my excitement level.  I would take him - but it would be one of those "awe man, we missed out on ______" and then in a year or so realize how well he's doing.

Steckel is probably the least sexy name on the list but I'd be very pleased with him - his Mizzou defenses have been stout - particularly up front, but he has been with Gary Pinkel since the dawn of time and I'd be really surprised if he took a lateral move within conference.

Chizik?  No thanks.  He had a few good seasons but overall he a cut below all the guys I've listed above.  I also can't get the image of him wearing his black leather jacket during the Cam Newton season, which for reasons unknown to me just drives me crazy.  Also - need to steer clear of the Chiz Rags.

Hopefully, Sumlin can get the right guy in the right time frame.  All of our mid-term recruits need to know who their coach will be before they finalize their decisions.  I felt like the process of hiring Snyder took too long back in '12 and we lost out on a couple of JUCO defensive players that could have really helped us.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Bowling

What a crazy weekend for college football with the first playoff announcement coming on the heels of a full slate of Championship games yesterday.

I'll start with the A&M news. We have drawn West Virginia in the Liberty Bowl.  /Golf clap

Of course, I'm not thrilled playing a Big 12 team - at least it is one of the new Big 12 teams and not one we've played before.  The big dump on this bowl is that it is a Monday Dec. 29th at 1pm kickoff.  That sucks. 

Throughout the day, it looked like we were either going to the Music City Bowl vs. Notre Dame, the Independence Bowl vs. Miami, or the Texas Bowl vs. the horns. 

As it ended up - both teams in the Liberty Bowl were 7-5 and both teams in the Texas Bowl were 6-6.  LSU got the matchup with Notre Dame, South Carolina got the matchup with Miami, and Arky is going to run over the horns.  At least the Independence Bowl is on a Saturday.

I also think this is a tough draw for the Ags.  I obviously, don't know a whole bunch about WVU this year but I know that they beat Baylor and that a Dana Holgerson offense with two or three weeks to prepare is going to be tough for our bad defense - even more so without a DC.

It is what it is.  Go better than 7-5 and you get a better bowl.

The playoffs announcement was much more exciting.  Let me give a little backstory.

Last week the committee met and put out the following rankings:
  1. Alabama
  2. Oregon
  3. TCU
  4. FSU
  5. Ohio St
  6. Baylor
TCU had leapfrogged FSU, which was a pretty big deal since only the top 4 teams get in.

TCU and Baylor were both 10-1 on the season - but Baylor had defeated TCU in their head-to-head matchup, but then lost to West Virginia.  That gave them the head-to-head advantage but also gave them a much worse loss than TCU (who only lost to Baylor).

The Big 12 then came out and said that they will treat both teams as Co-Champions if they both won their games this weekend (even though their by-laws says that head-to-head is the deciding factor).  The Big 12 does not play a Conference Championship Game like the other big four conferences do but instead tag another bye week into their schedule and play their final conference game for several teams on the day of all the conference championships.

So this weekend in the championship games: Alabama beats #16 Mizzou, Oregon beats #7 Arizona, Florida State slides bye #10 Georgia Tech, and Ohio State throttles #13 Wisconsin.  Then TCU beats Iowa State and Baylor beats #9 KSU.

Ohio State has a little back story as well - in week 2 they lost to Virginia Tech at home - by far the worst loss of the top 6 teams.  Their Heisman contendor QB, Braxton Miller, injured his shoulder just before the season started so they had to go with redshirt freshman, J.T. Barrett, at QB. So Barrett lost in his second career start to a Bud Foster defense and then went on to become a Heisman candidate himself....until he hurt himself in the Buckeye's final regular season game and will miss the rest of the season.  So sophomore, Cardell Jones, makes his first career start against Wisconsin in the Big 10 Championship game and the Buckeyes win FIFTY NINE to ZERO.

So the final rankings come out this morning and look like this:
  1. Alabama
  2. Oregon
  3. FSU
  4. Ohio State
  5. Baylor
  6. TCU
There is, of course, outcry - as expected. There are several factors working here....

First of all, Florida State is not the third best team in the country.  I think they would lose to every other team listed there.  The problem is that they were the only undefeated team and that is some sort of magical force field in college football.  They moved ahead of TCU because they beat a very good GT while TCU beat an ISU team that had one conference win (regardless of how badly they beat them).

Secondly, the Big 12 screwed it's teams - in several ways.  First of all, they are structured to not have a Conference Championship.  That is one less game against a formidable opponent.  So BU and TCU are each 11-1 while all the other teams are 12-1. 

Then the Big 12 tried to take the safe route and at the last minute claim them both as Co-Champs, hoping that either team having the title attached to them would boost them - but in fact, I think it hurt them because there is no differentiation.  Baylor won the head to head and should have been the Big 12 Champ. 

The entire reason we have gone to a playoff is to let the teams settle it on the field - but then you want us to discard that when determining who makes the playoff?

But here is the kicker - the Big 12's entire season long slogan was "One True Champion".  I'm going to laugh at that one for years to come.

That said, I think that tOSU would not have necessarily leapt over the Big 12 team (likely Baylor) had they not looked so dominant in their Conference Championship game.  Had they won, 24-21 or 35-27 I think we would have seen them left out.  To their credit, they played that additional game and used it as a platform to their advantage.

Thirdly, strength of schedule.  Not all conferences are created equal - going 12-1 in the SEC is not the same as going 12-1 in the Big 10.  It is understandable that some teams can't control their conference schedule - but they can control their out of conference schedule.  FSU knows that the ACC is a bad conference so they bolstered their resume by scheduling non-conference games with Florida, Oklahoma State, and Notre Dame.  We all realize that those three teams happened to have down years, but the attempt by FSU was appreciated by the committe.

TCU did play Minnesota, who just out of sheer luck for TCU had their best season in recent memory.  Baylor's best OoC game was against Buffalo.  Baylor played the weakest OoC schedule in the entire country - #128 out of 128.

I don't have a problem with the way the rankings and spots played out - I do think that if you stuck all the teams on the field Baylor would be a tougher draw than TCU, FSU, or tOSU but the selection committee didn't want to set the precedent that you could play less games against weaker teams and still get in.

Like they say, it sucks to BU.

There are a few things that I did not like that came out of this weekend....
  • I don't like how "style points" became such a big deal for the last game of the season - it should matter for all 12 or 13 games, not just the last one.
  • I'm concerned about the mention of tOSU's ability to overcome having to play backup QBs....does that mean that they will look at something like that in reverse if they have a team who loses a great player at the end of the year?  Could a team get left out if they don't "overcome" losing someone to injury?
  • I also don't like the precedent that they felt that tOSU did have the "worst" loss off the three but overcame that in the weeks to follow. Would a team who loses late in the season that doesn't have an opportunity to "overcome" it be punished? Why is an early season loss less important than a late season loss? That would indicate you want your conference to schedule all you tough games as early as possible.  The playoff should not be about who finished hot, but rather the entire body of work.
  • I also don't like the precedent set by selecting 4 conference champions....because I don't think that in most years there are four conference champions that are amongst the four best teams in the country. It just kind of happened this year but usually there is one or two conferences whose top team is ranked in the mid-teens.  They wouldn't deserve to be in a four team playoff.
  • You can eliminate that by going to 8 teams, like it should have been done in the first place.  Take all 5 conference champs + 3 at large
Anyways, Alabama will face Ohio State in the Sugar Bowl and Oregon will face FSU in the Rose Bowl.

TCU ended up matched against Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl and Baylor got Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl.  Both should be really interesting games. 

In terms of coaching replacements for A&M's staff- there isn't anything of note that has occurred yet.  I'll try to hash out some scenarios if I get time before the decision is made.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Ag Football Recap: LSU 23 v. A&M 17

In a game where our offense and defense were both abysmal, LSU somehow just squeaked by with a win at Kyle Field.

It actually started fairly quickly after we punted on our first possession.  LSU was moving the ball well on the ground before Davonte Harris stepped in front of a Tiger receiver to pick off the Anthony Jennings pass.  I don't understand why they were throwing the ball.  Clearly they did not watch film from our game against Mizzou.

Tra Carson had two 4 yard runs before Trey Williams broke off a 41 yard TD run right up the gut and all of a sudden we're up 7-0.

LSU again marches 70 yards down field on 12 plays but misses a FG.  This was a trend that was our only saving grace.  On the night, the Tigers had three drives of 5 min or longer and only ended up with 3 points out of those.

There was a weird play where Myles Garrett hit Jennings as he was dropped back and the officials blew the whistle and signaled an incomplete pass.  An LSU player had picked up the ball but didn't run because the whistle had blown and they had signaled it incomplete.  Then the head official said it was ruled a fumble but the play was blown dead on an inadvertent whistle.  Since the LSU player did not advance the ball because of the whistle they had a choice to replay the down from the previous spot or take the result of the play (which would put them at 4th and 1).  The instant replay confirmed that it was a fumble.  They chose to replay the 3rd down and, of course, converted.  Ultimately, the drive ended with a punt so there was no real damage other than TOP but it was just another example of the strange officiating.
The game was tied up at 7-7 after Leonard Fournette trucked Howard Matthews - it was one of those plays that is going to end up on highlight reels for years.  As a true freshman, Fournette scares me because we're going to see a lot of #7 over the next few years.

LSU scored again with 34 seconds left in the half.  Speedy then fumbled the KOR allowing the Tigers to stretch their lead to 10 with a quick FG.

The big quarter strikes again as LSU scored 17 points  in the 2Q as we gave up 140 yards rushing.  It didn't help that our offense only ran 7 plays in the quarter and had just 23 yards passing in the first half.

The first drive of the 3Q was one of LSU's big long drives I mentioned earlier - they ate up 7:35 of the clock but had to settle for a FG.

It wasn't until the 7 min. mark of the 3rd Q that we picked up our third first down of the game.  At the 2 min mark of the 3Q we finally take a shot throwing the ball down field, hitting Boone Niederhofer for 42 yards, and the offense starts to open up.  We get a gift of a pass interference call in the end zone that moves us down field and then another 10 yard completion to Speedy before having to settle for a FG.

Again, LSU chews up clock before missing another FG.  We're at the 10 min. mark of the 4th quarter at this point and Trey Williams gets his second carry of the night, picking up 22 yards.  Why on earth are we not giving him the ball more frequently in this game?

That is one of the bigger complaints about the offense this year - there is no rhyme or reason for which RB we have in and even when we do have someone doing well, we pull him and stick someone else in.
Anyways, Allen finds Speedy at the left pylon on a jump ball where Speedy just goes over the top of the DB and pulls it down to narrow the score to 20-17.  I swear, we get one "Did you see that?!?" play from him each week. 

LSU answered back with another FG before we get the ball with 2:07 remaining.  Davonte Harris was inches from blocking that FG - it either went over or under him as he leaped because it should have hit him in the stomach.

On our final drive, we moved the ball through the air to midfield fairly easily and then their DT jumps offsides so Mike Matthews quick snaps the ball and Allen takes a deep shot down field on the free play.  It gets picked off, but not a big deal because we'll just take the 5 yard offsides penalty.
Except there is no flag.  From any official.  I saw it from my seat at the game, the announcers saw it when they were calling the game, Matthews and Allen clearly saw it.  It was pretty disgusting. 

LSU took a knee and ran out the clock.

I'm not saying that the officials cost us the game, because they didn't, we played like garbage - but they certainly changed the outcome - whatever that might have been.  They were bad all game and that was the crescendo. 

It was the most rushing yards LSU had in a conference game since 2007 and both Fournette and Jennings ran for career highs.

And so the regular season comes to an end.  We will know our bowl fate next Sunday (12/7) but it looks like we will most likely be headed to Charlotte for the Belk Bowl (previously Queens City Bowl/Continental Tire Bowl/Meineke Car Care Bowl) or to Houston for the Texas Bowl.

The playoff picture going into the week had Alabama, Oregon, FSU, and Mississippi State in (in that order).  FSU held off a bad Florida team, Mississippi State lost to Ole Miss pretty badly, Oregon ran over Oregon State and then Bama played in a great game against Auburn - losing in the 3rd quarter to end up winning 55-44.  It was a heckuva Iron Bowl. It looks like one of TCU, Ohio State, or Baylor will take MSU's place going into the conference championship games next Saturday.

At lunch time on Friday, A&M announced that defensive coordinator, Mark Snyder, was relieved of duty and the internet rumors commenced as to who will the next DC handed the keys to turn this defense into something formidable. 

Will Muschamp was fired at Florida a couple of weeks ago, Bo Pellinin was fired this morning at Nebraska - it looks like South Carolina and Auburn will be joining us in our search for a new DC.  There are rumors that Clemson's Dabo Sweeny will take over for Muschamp so his DC, Brent Venables's name is also being shopped about (his OC, Chad Morris just took the SMU HC job).

Muschamp is the belle of the ball so it will be interesting/fun/stressful to see how this plays out over the next couple of weeks.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

That Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

A couple of weeks ago, the longhorns beat Oklahoma State and got themselves bowl eligible.  They started the season very poorly under first year head coach Charlie Strong but waded through their Big 12 schedule winning four of their last five, which has in turn bubbled their confidence.

Then a longhorn rumor monger, whose "sources" regarding any and everything A&M have always been a iffy, dropped this on twitter: 
Two sources close to the situation told HornsDigest.com SEC officials have indicated to bowls with SEC and Big 12 tie-ins that the SEC won't support a Texas vs Texas A&M postseason matchup. In short, A&M has too much to lose from a potential loss.
Seriously?

Good lord, this is like the crazy girlfriend who is still stalking you on Facebook years later - the one whose girlfriends all sigh and roll their eyes when you get brought up in conversation AGAIN.

This is a complete media spin to once again paint A&M as a.) the bad guys who broke up the rivalry and b.) scared to play the horns.

This doesn't have anything to do with being scared.  We left the Big 12 and moved the SEC, the most difficult conference in the country.  Our division is the most difficult division in the history of college football.  We play LSU every year - we recruit against them regionally just as much, if not more, than we do against t.u.  Last I checked, they're still on our schedule for this coming Thursday night.

Sumlin came in and from day one and said, "I want to be around people who want to play at the highest level, want to compete in THE best conference in America and the best division in America and, if you're scared of that, GET A DOG."

Frankly, as bad as we've been, the horns aren't that good this year.  They have one win against a team with a winning record.  They snuck by Iowa State on a last second FG - at home.  They've scored 30 points four times - against North Texas, ISU, WV and texas tech.  If ever there was a year to be scared of playing the longhorns, this is not it.

I don't want to play them in a bowl for the same reason I didn't want to play OU in the Cotton Bowl and the same reason I hate that we've been stuck with Mizzou on our schedule in each of the first three years of the SEC.  I don't want to play any Big 12 schools.  Branch out.  Everything old is not wonderful and sacred.

I have touched on this twice before....

Once, prior to the '12 bowl announcements, when the horns actually asked the Cotton Bowl to skip them over if they were facing us....
 "Frankly, I really don't have any interest in playing any Big 12 team in a bowl this year - I love bowls because you get a chance to match up against big schools from other conferences that you normally wouldn't be able to play.  Playing a Big 12 team doesn't give me that."
and then again after it was announced that we would play OU
"This, to me, is a disappointing match up.  Like I said before, I love bowl games because you get an opportunity to play opponents that you normally don't get to.  This will be the 19th time we've faced OU in the last 20 years."
Even still, if A&M were to play texas again it shouldn't be in a dumpy bowl game.  The AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl?  No thanks.

Of course they want to play us right now.  They are riding high on 4 wins in their last 5 games and we've lost 5 of our last 7 - they don't have anything to lose.  The only result that hurts them is if we beat the dog snot out of them.  A win or a decent loss and they can spin everything in their favor - look how close we are to the big mighty SEC in only our first season with Strong.  Sure, I get that.  They want it on their terms.

Here's what irritates me the most.  When it was announced that A&M was leaving the Big 12, President Loftin had the following to say:
"I would just say this, that if we were to negotiate with other conferences of any kind, SEC or anybody else, a primary criterion would be our ability to continue a non-conference contest each year, hopefully on Thanksgiving Day or thereabouts, with our friends at UT-Austin. That's a historic rivalry. We see no reason why it could not continue under a different conference arrangement. If they chose to do so, we certainly want to make that part of any discussion we have with another conference."
Then Bill Byrne followed up in October 2011....
"After placing calls to Texas, we have been informed their non-conference football schedule is full through 2018. I have asked our coaches in all of our other sports to check with their Texas counterparts to see if they would like to continue to play in non-conference action in years to come. Our men's tennis coach reported they have declined." 
Here is Deloss Dodds' email response:
"'We’re scheduled out with non-conference games through 2018 and our Big 12 schedule is not yet settled.  What we have right now is a full schedule, but if any future options are available, the decision will not be made by just one person.'"
Then a few weeks later they turned around and inked a deal with UCLA for the 2014 season opener.

Within the last 12 months we have filled out THREE different OoC games for 2015 and added marquee OoC games for each of 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2024, and 2025.  We still have an OoC game open in each of 2016 and 2017.

If texas wants to play us so badly, pick up the phone and call Eric Hyman.



(They should also call up the Big 12 office and beg off having to play Arkansas in the Texas Bowl - that would be a worse match-up for them than playing us)