Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Ag Football Preview: Louisiana State Football History

Geaux Tigers

One of my favorite things about bowl games is that you are typically paired up against an opponent that you don't normally get to face which often times give the fanbase something fresh and exciting to look forward to. I love playing other traditional big name opponents - we've played Tennessee, Cal, Penn State, & Georgia in recent years. This season our matchup with LSU it is completely different (and even more exciting) because it re-sparks an old regional rivalry that hasn't been played in 15 years.

Even though A&M and LSU have never been in the same conference, this will be the 50th meeting between the two old rivals....with the Tigers leading 26-20-3. The craziest thing about this rivalry is that it was almost always played on enemy soil - over the last forty meetings the game was played only six times at Kyle Field and twice at neutral sites.

Attending a night game at Tiger Stadium, known to the Bayou faithful as "Death Valley", is one of the items on my bucket list....and hopefully in the next couple of years we can do that as a conference game.

The Fighting Tigers are a charter member of the SEC and are the 12th winningest program in NCAA history, just behind last year's bowl opponent, Georgia (LSU is also 14th in W-%age). They are ten time SEC Champs and three time National Champions ('58, '03, '07) with this last decade being their strongest (four top 5 finishes since '03).

This will be the fifth time that LSU hits the field in the Cotton Bowl, most recently playing texas in 2003. This bowl should bring back at least one fond memory for older Tiger fans....one of their most notable victories was the 1966 Cotton Bowl when they upset #2 Arkansas (a big SEC rival now but back then Arkansas was still in the SWC).

The first few things that instantly pop into my mind when I think of LSU football are: night games at Death Valley, incredible pure athletes, tailgating, tailgating, and tailgating. LSU fans are notorious for being a bit loud, raucous, and - well - sloppy drunk. I expect to hear some chants of "Tiger Bait" as we're walking up to the stadium.

Two of the most famous players to suit up in the purple and gold are Billy Cannon and Tommy Casanova.

Billy Cannon

Billy Cannon ('57-'59) won the 1959 Heisman Trophy following up the Tiger's 1958 National Championship. His son, Billy Cannon Jr. played for the Ags in the mid-80s and he could lay the hammer. Tommy Cassanova ('69-'71) was a cornerback for the Bengals and is the only LSU player to be named a three-time All-American for his on-field heroics.

Chinese Bandits

You've probably also heard of the Chinese Bandits. This was the nickname given to the 1958 defensive squad by head coach Paul Dietzel. In '59 they allowed only 143.2 yards per game which has not been bested by a Tiger defense since.

Nick Saban

Their most recent rise to prominence started with the hiring of HC Nick Saban. Coming off of a 3-8 season in 1999 Saban went 8-4 in his first season, then won the SEC in his second season and in his third season they won the National Championship. He left after the '04 season to take the head coaching job of the Miami Dolphins and then turned the entire state of Louisiana against him when he returned to the college scene in 2007 as the head coach of the hated Alabama Crimson Tide.


Saban's replacement was Les Miles, who went on to win the National Championship in his third season as well....but a large portion of LSU fans feel as if he did that off of Saban's incredible recruiting. Miles, who is nicknamed The Hat (for obvious reasons), mystifies college football fans with his passionate yet bizarre interviews and comments as well as his unexplainable play-calling - which somehow, someway, seems to magically work out against all odds. I think he has sold his soul to the devil. There is simply no other logical explanation. I was at an A&M game earlier this season and I saw a LSU fan with a t-shirt featuring a picture of Les Miles along with the tag line "FearLes". Classic.

And yet, somehow, he continues to finish in the top 15 year after year.

Regardless of what Lies Miles, as he is affectionately known in recruiting circles, does - LSU is a top-tier program and that makes this match-up even more exciting.

This past summer I read a book called "It Never Rains in Tiger Stadium" written by John Ed Bradley. Bradley was an All-SEC lineman for the Tigers in the 70s and the book tells a story of his life just before, during, and shortly after his time at LSU but the story it tells is not so much a biography but an explanation of the life of a college football player and how he must deal with life during and after school. I thought it was a fascinating book and it made me think back to my time as a high school baseball player and all the little stories and snapshot memories I have from that experience. It's a great read, regardless of which school your root for.

LSU is one of a dying breed of schools to keep a live mascot....and theirs is pretty exotic. Mike VI is a real life tiger who lives in an amazing three million dollar habitat on campus (talk about putting big $$$$ into facilities). I don't think he travels with the team for road games but I'm not sure what their policy is for bowl games.

Ok, so now that you know a little more about the Fighting Tigers, you probably want to know why this is such a big deal for Aggie fans, right? We've already touched on the fact that there is a long time non-conference history between the two schools - but why do older Ags have a venomous taste in their mouth towards the team from the east?

First of all, there are always recruiting wars between A&M and LSU....the Tigers like to raid east Texas and the Ags like to dip into north/west Louisiana.

The rivalry was played for years and years in Baton Rouge because until the 70's A&M was a small military school (from 1964 to 1975 our enrollment nearly tripled from 8,300 students to 24,000) and Kyle Field wasn't that big (only held 42,000 by 1975 - compared to nearly 70K at Tiger Stadium) so we made more money playing the Tigers at their place. Fair enough.

In the mid-80's a fella named Jackie Sherrill turned the Ags into a national power and the rivalry was restarted with a new 12-year non-conference deal starting in 1986. It was our first time to play the Bengals since '75 and it was initially supposed to be a neutral site game played in Houston at Rice Stadium but LSU nixed that idea, which is funny because now they would almost kill to have an annual game played in the fertile recruiting bed of Harris County.

We lost the first three match-ups but in the seven games from 1989-1995 we lost only once to LSU and there were some thumpings in there. Those thumpings should have continued but the Tigers backed out of the contract and, to this day, have not payed us the $400,000 buyout they owe us for the '96 & '97 games. That's some pretty serious scratch.

Athletic Director at the time, Wally Groff, wouldn't ink a deal to play the Tigers after that.

There is also an infamous collegiate baseball series from back in 1989. The Ags had the best baseball team in the nation (at 58-5) and had to win just one of two games against LSU in the Regional at Olsen Field to send them to the College World Series....somehow they lost them both. The Ags were so good that even though they didn't go to Omaha they still finished #2 in the rankings that season.....but it was LSU that abruptly ended one of the most magical seasons any Aggie athletic team has had.

We also faced LSU in the 2004 Super Regional at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge....that one didn't go well for us either.

More recently we got a taste of LSU on the hardwood. The first came in our magical '05/'06 season in the second round of the NCAA tournament as LSU hit a 3 to win it at the buzzer. The following three seasons we played them early in the season ('06/'07 in Baton Rouge, '07/'08 in College Station, & '08/'09 at the Toyota Center in Houston) and took two of three from them.

This is a rivalry that extends beyond the gridiron.....and even off the hardwood and diamond. Every single Ag knows a handful of LSU fans that just love to take their digs every chance they get.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

2010 Fall Camp Schedule Released

Our boys will be strapping on the pads for the first time in the upcoming week and the athletic department has released the schedule for us....

The practices held at the McFarrin Center (which has a firemarshall limit of a certain number of people) are not open to the public....all the rest are free entry for anyone with an Aggie ring or a student ID:

1 Monday, Aug. 9 6:30pm Coolidge Practice Fields
2 Tuesday, Aug. 10 6:30pm Coolidge Practice Fields
3 Wednesday, Aug. 11 6:30pm Coolidge Practice Fields
4 Thursday, Aug. 12 8:25am Coolidge Practice Fields
5 Friday, Aug. 13 8:25am Coolidge Practice Fields
6 Saturday, Aug. 14 8:25am Coolidge Practice Fields
7 Saturday, Aug. 14 4:00pm McFerrin Athletic Center
8 Sunday, Aug. 15 10:30am Kyle Field
9 Monday, Aug. 16 8:25am Coolidge Practice Fields
10 Monday, Aug. 16 4:00pm McFerrin Athletic Center
11 Tuesday, Aug. 17 8:25am Coolidge Practice Fields
12 Wednesday, Aug. 18 8:25am Coolidge Practice Fields
13 Wednesday, Aug. 18 4:00pm McFerrin Athletic Center
14 Thursday, Aug. 19 8:25am Coolidge Practice Fields
15 Friday, Aug. 20 8:25am Coolidge Practice Fields
16 Friday, Aug. 20 4:00pm McFerrin Athletic Center
17 Saturday, Aug. 21 8:55am Kyle Field
18 Monday, Aug. 23 8:25am Coolidge Practice Fields
19 Monday, Aug. 23 4:00pm McFerrin Athletic Center
20 Tuesday, Aug. 24 8:25am Coolidge Practice Fields
21 Wednesday, Aug. 25 3:30pm McFerrin Athletic Center
22 Thursday, Aug. 26 12:20pm Coolidge Practice Fields
23 Friday, Aug. 27 9:15am Coolidge Practice Fields

I have a feeling that I'll be making a drive up HW6 on Saturday August 21st.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Steve Kragthorpe Resigns, Sherman Brings in Troy Walters

Just prior to his first season back in Aggieland, WR Coach, Steve Kragthorpe has stepped down to take care of a family medical issue.

Troy Walters will be his replacement as position coach. I don't think he will have quite the same hands-on role on the offense as the former Tulsa and Louisville head coach would have but at the position, he is very much qualified.

We are getting him from Indiana State where he was about to serve his second season as Offensive Coordinator. The 34 year old, former wide receiver hails from A&M Consolidated and took his ability to Standford where he won the 1999 Biletnikoff Award (and picked up a master's degree - from Stanford, not too shabby). He played in the NFL for 8 years with Minnesota, Indianapolis, Arizona, and Detroit.

Coach Sherman made an important note that Walters is familiar with the West Coast Offense and knows the terminology that we use, so that should help his arrival be somewhat seamless.

Interestingly, his father, Trent Walters, was the DB coach here at A&M during the height of our defensive domination from 1991-1993 (which explains how Troy landed at Consol) and Troy was a ballboy for Coach Slocums squad.

Our thoughts go out to Coach Kragthorpe and his family as they face a difficult time in their lives. Gig'em and God Bless.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

State of the Program

(originally posted on January 13, 2010 at my old website: http://tamu-and-baseball.com)

Thank goodness the 2000s are over because it was not a good decade for our Ags. Our overall record was 63-59, we appeared in six bowl games (winning 1) and our best season was 2006 when we finished 9-4.

It was my first decade of football as my freshman year started with the 2000 season. Over the 10 seasons I attended 81 games including 68 of our 70 games at Kyle Field (missing '04 OU and '05 TxSt).

I don't think anyone can say that 2009 was a good season but I think we saw good things from it. In my season preview had us pegged with a 6-6 regular season, which we hit, but we lost our bowl game giving us a losing record for the second season in a row (for the first time since '79-'80).

This season I made it to 11 of our 13 games (missing tech and KSU), which was a personal single season high. I did the math and I traveled over 5,300 miles to see our Ags play this season. At 16 miles/gallon, plus food, lodging, tickets....I hope my wife doesn't read this.

And it's still worth it.

I do think that we made improvements and some nice strides towards next year. We played a school record 18 true freshmen and another 6 red-shirt freshmen. Those 24 freshmen accounted for 57 starts and 249 appearances. Six of them started seven or more games (Mangan, D.Harris, EZ, B.Jackson, P.Lewis, J.Stewart) and project to have long career for us. Lewis was named to CollegeFootballNews.com's All-Freshman 2nd team while Mangan, EZ, and Christine Michael were all named 3rd team.

I've probably said it 10 times on this site but Christine Michael is going to be a complete stud.

A&M OL Starts v. W-L
2003 20 v. 4-8
2004 62 v. 7-5
2005 87 v. 5-6
2006 79 v. 9-4
2007 119 v. 7-6
2008 21 v. 4-8
2009 56 v. 6-7

[note: 2005 is out of whack because we had Aldo De La Garza and Jamie Hightower, both experienced seniors but both playing the same position -- Hightower was beat out by Yemi Babalola (freshman) at tackle so he moved to guard and split time with Aldo -- that is, until Dominique Steamer ended up beat'em both out after our 5th game. Going into 2005 Aldo & Hightower had 51 career starts between them and they started a combined 5 games in '05]

Michael and sophomore Cyrus Gray ran behind an offensive line that was certainly in transition for the first portion of the season. Coming into 2009 we had a total of 56 offensive line starts returning, mostly from guys that were first time starters in 2008.

        LT      LG      C      RG     RT    RYds Sck
======= ======= ======== ===== ====== ========
UNM Baker Shumard Matthews Allen Grimes 245 2
UtS Shumard Eike Matthews Allen Grimes 251 1
UAB Shumard Barrera Matthews Allen Baker 236 1
Ark Barrera Shumard Matthews Allen Grimes 113 2
oSu Barrera Lewis Matthews Allen Grimes 109 4
KSU Shumard Allen Matthews Lewis Grimes -13 6
tt Shumard Lewis Matthews Eike Grimes 321 1
ISU Shumard Lewis Matthews Eike Grimes 267 1
CU Shumard Eike Matthews Lewis Grimes 132 1
OU Shumard Eike Matthews Lewis Grimes 59 4
BU Shumard Eike Matthews Lewis Grimes 375 1
tu Shumard Eike Matthews Lewis Grimes 190 3
UGA Shumard Eike Matthews Lewis Grimes 109 2

We struggled mightily trying to find the right mix of players (rushing for a total of 209 yards and giving up 12 sacks in our first three "real" games) but once we re-inserted Evan Eike and added freshman Patrick Lewis at the guard positions things started to click more often. Everyone made a big deal out of us being 0-7 on TV and 6-0 when we weren't televised, but I think the fact that we were 0-7 when we ran for less than 200 yards had more to do with it than the bright lights of Hollywood.

                      PrevExp  2009  Into2010
======= ===== ========
M.Allen (Jr).......... 0/0 8/6 8/6
D.Baker (So).......... 10/1 13/2 23/3
S.Barrera (Fr)........ 0/0 9/3 9/3
E.Eike (So)........... 12/12 13/8 25/20
L.Grimes (Sr)......... 20/12 12/12 32/24
J.Hyde (Fr)........... 0/0 8/0 8/0
P.Lewis (Fr).......... 0/0 12/9 12/9
K.Matthews (Sr)....... 21/12 13/13 34/25
M.Shumard (Sr)........ 29/17 12/12 41/29
B.Thomas (Fr)......... 0/0 12/0 12/0
J.Villavisencio (So).. 2/1 0/0 2/1 (RSed in '09)
V.Williams (Sr)....... 12/1 3/0 15/1

Next season we lose our three more experienced linemen in Kevin Matthews, Michael Shumard, and Lee Grimes and we will only return 42 starts but we bring in what looks to be the best OL recruiting class we've scored in the last 15 years. We also get to see the highly touted red-shirt freshman Rhonte Scales. I've said before that the offensive line was a weak link for us and it probably will be until 2011 but if anyone is going to bring it to where it needs to be it will be Mike Sherman - and he is on his way to doing that.

In addition to C-Mike, I'm also a big fan of freshman Uzoma Nwachakwu who led the team in receiving yards with 708 yards. His three 100 yard performances tied the school record and set the freshman record while his 6 TDs was the second most ever by a freshman and 7th most overall. He didn't add to either of those achievements in the last 7 games of the season though (after the KSU game). Another thing I noticed was that he had a ton of yardage on defensive off-sides where we had free plays and JJ just took a shot deep to him. I'm curious why we saw such a big drop in production. Clearly Fuller coming back played a part and maybe teams got enough film on us and schemed him out of the game during Big 12 play or maybe his route running or ability to get separation against Big 12 opponents reflected his freshman inexperience. We'll have to keep an eye on that over the next few years, but I have a feeling he's going to be a good one.

2008            G-GS No Yds TD
R.Tannehill.. 11-6 55 844 5
J.Fuller..... 11-8 50 630 9

2009 G-GS No Yds TD
R.Tannehill.. 13-0 46 609 4
J.Fuller..... 9-7 41 568 7
U.Nwachukwu.. 13-12 40 708 6

EZ isn't the only great WR we have on the roster. I think that the current WR corps will be the best we've ever had. When we had Bethel Johnson, Jamaar Taylor, Terrence Murphy, and Greg Porter we were pretty stout but by the time the current group is gone I think they will have them trumped.

Jeff Fuller has 16 career TDs and is only three shy of tying the school's career record (19 by Bob Long in the late 1960s). Tannehill, even with his much limited snaps this year to keep him healthy as the backup QB, is only eight TDs behind Fuller and is already 7th on the school's all-time receiving yardage list with 1,453 (T-Murph is #1 with exactly 2,600).

Fuller and Tannehill were just sophomores this season.

One of the reasons our WRs are so good is because of their QB, Jerrod Johnson, who re-wrote the record books this season. In my season preview I wrote the following:

I think that Reggie's junior season of 2004 was THE best passing season we've seen but I think that as a sophomore JJ was more polished than Reggie was at that point in his career (read: his sophomore year - 2003) so I'm kind of excited to see if he can take the big leap as a junior as well.
We can say that Jerrod's junior season of 2009 was THE best passing season we've seen.

G-GS Cmp-Att-Int Yds Pct TD Avg/G
2007... 5-0 2-7-0 50 58.0 2 10.0
2008... 12-10 194-326-10 2435 59.5 21 221.4*
2009... 13-13 296-497-8 3579 59.6 30 275.3

(*JJ played some QB in 11 of our 12 games but I want to note that
the YPG stat kept by the school did not take that into account when
dividing his season total of yards by the number of games played.
They used all 12 games he appeared in to calculate his YPG at 202.9.
He came off the bench at WR in the Arkansas State game and did not
play any QB & he started at WR in the Army game but did play some QB)

He was named 2nd Team All-Big 12 and I posted earlier this season on his achievements and I'll update those numbers now:

  • Threw for 30 TDs in 2009 shattering his own single season school record of 21 (he set last season)
  • Broke Kevin Murray's career record of 48 TD passing finishing his junior year with 53 career TDs (he tied Murray on his 741st career attempt which was 185 fewer than Murray's 926 career attempts)
  • Broke Reggie McNeal's single season school record with 3,579 yards (besting McNeal by almost 800 yards)
  • His career 6,064 passing yards is only 928 yards shy of McNeal's school record
  • Currently has career completion percentage of 59.3% (492/830). That sits as the second highest in school history by .2% (S.McGee is at 59.5%)
  • He threw 8 INTs on 497 pass attempts in 2009....that is 1 every 62 pass attempts
  • Set Big 12 record for single season consecutive pass attempts without an INT (225)
  • Set Big 12 record for consecutive pass attempts without an INT (242 - from '08 BU to '09 KSU)
  • Had the fewest INTs and most TDs by a Big 12 QB in 2009
  • His six 300 yard passing performances in 2009 was a single season record (Dustin Long had three in '02)
  • His eight career 300 yard games is a school record (Dustin Long had three)
As a matter of fact, we can probably start getting used to the idea that he is the best QB we've ever had roll through here. Of course, JJ detractors are going to point to our record and say, "He didn't win. All the numbers in the world wouldn't match what Kevin Murray/Bucky/Pullig did for this program."

Here is what I say to that: Jerrod doesn't have a defense. Think about this:

  • During Murray's career, only once did we have to score more than 40 points to win a game. We lost that game.
  • During Bucky's career, only once did we have to score more than 40 points to win a game. We lost that game.
  • During Pullig's career, only once did we have to score more than 40 points to win a game. We lost that game. Actually, during Pullig's career we only had to score more than 30 points twice (we went 1-1)
  • During the last two seasons, we have given up 40 points TWELVE times. In 25 games.
Unless Jerrod can bookend with Von Miller on the DL and create pressure on our opponents QB, our W-L record isn't in his hands.

That leads me right into my next topic....the defense.

It's really bad.

         RushD        PassD          TotalD          ScoreD          3DC
======================================================== ========
2003 225.1 (112)* 206.42 (40) 431.50 (96)* 38.8 (115)+ 2003 44%
2004 142.5 (55) 244.25 (93)* 386.75 (63)* 23.3 (47) 2004 44%
2005 139.2 (38) 304.64 (117)+ 443.82 (108)* 31.2 (96)* 2005 48%
2006 132.1 (44) 190.54 (44) 322.62 (46) 20.5 (44) 2006 29%
2007 160.9 (65) 254.85 (92)* 415.77 (83)* 25.9 (50) 2007 46%
2008 219.3 (114)* 242.67 (93) 461.92 (113)+ 37.4 (114)* 2008 55%
2009 171.6 (90) 254.69 (106)* 426.31 (105) 33.5 (105)* 2009 38%

*Indicates that at the time it was one of the three worst
seasons in modern Aggie history (post-1950)
+Indicates the single worst season in modern Aggie history

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that defensive coordinator, Joe Kines, has decided to retire. I'm still not sure how I feel about Kines. I mean, I really liked the guy, he has a great personality, and he clearly knew how to coach - as evident from his decades of success prior to A&M - but just couldn't get it done in Aggieland. I can't be angry at him - he came in after Reggie Herring bolted on us in the 11th hour knowing that we had nothing on the defensive side of the ball. I appreciate that Kines did us a huge favor by taking a job that was, to almost any other defensive coordinator, career suicide. However, part of me still struggles with the fact that we were SO bad defensively.

Now that we have some talent starting to become infused at different positions this job is certainly more desirable than it was two years ago - although it doesn't mean that the new defensive coordinator is just going to walk into a great situation like Will Muschamp did over in Austin and we're going to be a top 5 defense before August is over. With our offense we don't have to have the best defense in the country to win at a high level, but it has to be better than 105th.

The defense wasn't 100% doom and gloom. We saw some great improvement from a handful of players. Garrick Williams is starting to look more like a Big 12 LBer....I thought Jordan Pugh had his best season and improved dramatically with the ball in the air....Terrence Frederick is turning himself into a very nice little cornerback....and of course Von Miller turned himself into an All-American.

Von was named 1st team All-American by both Sports Illustrated and The Sporting News and 2nd team by the AP and was a finalist for the Hendricks Award. He became one of the top rush ends in the country and led the nation with 17 sacks, which put him second in A&M single season history (Jacob Green with 20 in 1979). After leading the team in sacks for the second straight season he moved into 7th place all-time with 22.5 career sacks.

Even with Von's big decision to return for his senior season, our defensive line is the weakest link of our football team so we'll have to see what transpires personnel-wise - and coaching-wise as DL coach Buddy Wyatt joined Turner Gill's staff at Kansas....under their new defensive coordinator, CARL TORBUSH! WOW!

Besides the DL it was our special teams that did us in time after time this season which was brought to a head in the Georgia game. Special teams mistakes are always huge, game changing events and when you have a lot of them you're not going to win football games. ST coach Kirk Doll is in a tricky spot. He was hired by Reggie Herring to be the LBer coach (which is what he has had success at) but when Herring left and Kines came in, Kines took the LBer spot and Doll moved to special teams. We'll have to see if he is retained by the incoming defensive coordinator at LB coach. Regardless, I expect a new face to be heading up the special teams.

The punting was either rugby style, which was canned mid-season, or INCREDIBLY slow to develop. I don't know how we didn't have more punts blocked.

Kicker, Randy Bullock, seemed to get hit with a nasty case of sophomore slump. The field goal kicking was a step down from 2008.

FIELD GOALS         FGM-FGA  Pct 01-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-99 Lg Blk
2008 Bullock, Randy 6-7 85.7 1-1 2-2 2-2 1-2 0-0 46 0
2009 Bullock, Randy 12-19 63.2 0-0 3-4 5-7 3-6 1-2 50 2

I think the thing I struggle with even more than the drop off in FG kicking is the inability to kickoff into the endzone.

I'm ok with our kickoff returners, Cyrus Gray and Ryan Swope and Linnis Smith but our punt returning disappeared on us to the point where I was just happy when we just maintained possession on a punt return. Special teams has a long way to go before it's "special" again.

Coach Sherman has a big month here in January. He was able to bring Von Miller back but he still has to make the hire at defensive coordinator that will make or break his career in Aggieland and he has to hold the clamps down on our excellent recruiting class (we're currently sitting at #11 per Rivals and #15 per Scout).

For the first time in a long time I feel like things are swinging in the right direction for Texas A&M football. Like I said at the top of the page, it wasn't the best season but it was a step in the right direction. Let's keep on moving that way.


Saturday, July 3, 2010


I've always thought that the bond between a sports fan and their team is a fascinating connection and as I've watched this year's World Cup I've spent more time thinking about it than normal.

The passion that the rest of the world has for their national soccer club, in my opinion, is closest related to American football - and even more specifically, college football.

Sean and I are in there

The football schedule leads to this passion. Baseball and basketball each have long drawn out schedules and as a result each individual game isn't nearly as important as a game in the NFL or in college football. In college football, you get 12 games plus a conference championship - if you lose twice and you're out of the national title picture.

The schedule also gives you one game per week so you have 7 days to over analyze the previous week's game and become an expert on what is going to happen on the upcoming Saturday.

The other thing that helps is the direct connection to your team. In the World Cup it is YOUR country versus another country. How many Americans do you know that didn't root for USA? College sports is like this too because YOUR school is your school - except, of course, if you went to Texas State and you wear more burnt orange than Earl Campbell.

Rivalries also help turn up the juice and passion. At your workplace there are typically many universities represented and each person has their own school pride. For the most part the conferences are fairly regional so you have a vested interest in if your school beats the school of the guy who's desk is next to yours - because you don't want pay up that friendly wager you made with him on Friday.

I started school in the fall of 2000 and I didn't miss my first home game in 2004 when I went to a friend's wedding instead of the OU game breaking a 30 game streak. The only one I've missed since then was the Hurricane Rita game in 2005 against Texas State (putting me on a current 32 game streak since the TxSt game). If I'm not at the game (read: if it's away and I'm not traveling), I'm watching it on TV - and if it isn't televised then I'm sitting listening to Dave South on the radio or computer.

There is a strike of fear that hits me like a bolt of lightning and then twists my stomach into knots when someone gives me a date for some event during a fall Saturday. The first thing that runs through my head is, "Whoa, I need to check the schedule." I don't say "check my schedule" simply because the football team's schedule IS my schedule.

I've passed up countless hunting trips in the fall and late summer fishing trips and Texans games from vendors at work because of conflicts with our schedule (the Texans games because I don't want to burn up my brownie points trying to squeeze two football games into one weekend).

I don't think Jennifer understood it until I explained to her that if you made me list out the 15 most important days of every year, 8 or 9 would be Saturdays in the fall when I have a ticket for an Aggie football game.

I only get 5 precious vacation days every six months at work and I try to hold onto a day or two in the event that we make a bowl game that I want to travel to.

I know that I'm a bit of a fanatic (which is where the word fan came from, right?) but I also know that I'm not the only one like this. I see familiar faces wearing maroon shirts from San Diego to Lincoln to Miami. Even if I am in the top 10% of crazies, the normal college football fan is still more passionate about his team than he is many other things in his life.

When we found out that Benjamin was going to be born in October the first thing I did was pull out my pocket schedule and try to figure out what the odds were on me missing a game - and, thankfully, it worked out perfectly as we were on the road at Iowa State the weekend after he was born. I also carefully negotiated a house rule dictating that his birthday party will always be celebrated on a Friday night or on a Sunday.

Now that Benjamin is more active and I have more responsibilities on the weekends I've actually reached the point that I've cut back on other activities (like Astros games, Aggie baseball games, and Aggie basketball games) so I can save up those brownie points and cash them in for any problem that might arise during football season.

At some point Benjamin is going to have some sort of activity that will convene on a fall Saturday - I can't be so selfish as to ban him from anything that could go that direction - but I can sure hope and pray. It's not that I wouldn't want to see him doing whatever it is he's doing - it's that I want my cake and to be able to eat it too.

Some would say that it is an addiction, and I can't really argue with them about it. I can remember who I went to the '06 Missouri game with but I can't remember what day of the week the trash goes out.

Maybe it is related to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). I can't deny that I have a little of that in my blood.

In the end, it doesn't really matter. I don't want to be cured of Aggie football. If I did, Fran would have taken care of that 5 or 6 years ago.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Big 12 to Remain Intact

Texas A&M decided this evening to stay in the Big 12 (or whatever it's going to be called). That was so out of the picture until last night that it wasn't even an option that I presented last time.

Colorado did take the Pac-10s offer and Nebraska moved on to the Big 10 so it's the Little 10....or the Big 12-2....or something.

I'm sure a lot of the details will come out in the next few days.

I am as disappointed right now as I have ever been in my 10 years of following Aggie football.

I need to let all the dust settle before I get into it so I can write with a clear head.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The End is Near

It appears, by almost all accounts, that the Big 12 conference is about to dissolve and the world of college athletics is going to change once more as we start to move more towards the Super Conferences.

Where there is smoke, there is fire.....and right now the smoke is so thick the firefighters are having to exit the building.

As it stands now, Nebraska is possibly going to join the Big 10 along with Missouri which would be the first domino to fall in a complete and total anarchy as each school works on aligning itself up with a new conference.

Right now there looks to be three options for our Aggies.

Option #1:
On Monday it is alleged that the Pac-10 is going to formally invite us, texas, Colorado, Oklahoma, Okie State, and tech to join them in what would be a Pac-16. The conference would be divided into two eight team divisions:

Arizona, Arizona St., Colorado, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., texas, TAMU, texas tech

Cal, Oregon, Oregon St., Southern Cal, UCLA, Washington, Washington St.

For football we would play the eight teams in our division and rotate playing two from the West each season.

Option #2:
A&M goes to the SEC and lets everyone else fend for themselves.

Option #3:
texas and A&M get invited to the Big 10

My least favorite of the three options is #3. They would have to give us Uncle Scrooge style-stacks of cash because we are sooooo far away and the travel expenses would be unbelievable. Plus, I think the Big 10 is the least exciting, I hate the cold, and I don't have any really strong connection to any of those schools.

I'm torn between #1 and #2.

I love the idea of joining the SEC. That is the most passionate and prestigious region for both college football and college baseball, which just so happen to be the two things I love more than anything outside of my family. I also like the idea of being the only school in the state of Texas that can say, "Come play here. We're in the SEC. The SEC is the best conference." I also LOVE the idea of playing such traditional powers - Alabama, Georgia, LSU, Auburn, Tennessee, Florida. My bucket list includes seeing A&M play at several of those schools.

What I don't like is the slimy feel I get from SEC recruiting....I think of it like OU recruiting on steroids. Even if we go into the SEC, we're still going to be fighting t.u. and Oklahoma for in-state recruits and I'm afraid that those schools I just mentioned above will get a foothold in the state and start taking our kids - then we're fighting a bunch of national powers for the same kids we're currently fighting only a couple of national powers for.

I'd like to think we'd win those battles but there isn't really anything historically to say that we would. Talk about getting egg in the face - going to the new conference and then opening the door for them to beat us up in our own backyard on the recruiting trails.

The other thing that concerns me is that if we walk into the SEC and get stomped and never get our foot in the ground. Let's face it, we haven't done all that hot against our last several SEC opponents ('09 Arkansas, '09 Georgia, '04 Tennessee, '00 Mississippi State). My biggest fear would be that we wouldn't be ready and turn into another version of South Carolina football.

But then again we haven't done well against any of our big OOC opponents ('07 Penn State, '07 & '08 Miami, '06 Cal, '05 Clemson, '04 Utah, '03 Pitt, '02 & '03 Virginia Tech, '00 Notre Dame) - the only wins we have since '00 against big name opponents were '01 Notre Dame (a bad ND team; at home), '02 Pitt (on the road); '03 Utah (at home; just before they were really good), '04 Clemson (at home).

And we're never going to get better if we don't play them. It just seems like a slippery slope - if everything goes perfect it would be awesome but there seem to be too many opportunities to push us back even further.

I think the pure, passionate, primal college football fan in me wants this but I don't know if it is really the best thing for our program as it stands right now.

Option #1 seems to be, for the most part, the most practical. It keeps the Big 12 South intact - minus poor Baylor (who needs to send flowers over to UH and Rice really quickly and say, "Sorry about the whole SWC/Big 12 thing") and adds two solid schools in Arizona and ASU. I certainly wouldn't mind taking a trip out to The Grand Canyon state - but it is awfully far for a regularly scheduled roadtrip like Baylor is. Regardless of where we go, the number of road games I go to will probably be cut down a bit.

Option #1 just isn't as sexy to me - but it probably is the best fit.

Is it bad that I hate the fact that tech gets to go with us....I was really hoping that they'd get screwed in this whole deal and end up having to join the MWC or Conference USA.

No matter what plays out, the non-revenue sports are going to hurt the most....but this isn't about anything other than $$$$$.

We'll have to wait and watch how this whole things plays out.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Spring Football Schedule

Aggieathletics.com posted the schedule for spring ball this past week.....

#1 Tue 3/23
6:10am McFerrin Indoor
4:00pm Coolidge Practice Fields

#2 Thu 3/25
6:10am McFerrin Indoor
4:00pm Coolidge Practice Fields

#3 Sat 3/27

#4 Sun 3/28
6:10am McFerrin Indoor
4:00pm Coolidge Practice Fields

#5 Tue 3/30
TBA (Kyle Field)

#6 Thu 4/01
6:10am McFerrin Indoor
4:00pm Coolidge Practice Fields

#7 Tue 4/6
6:10am McFerrin Indoor
4:00pm Coolidge Practice Fields

#8 Thu 4/8
6:10am McFerrin Indoor
4:00pm Coolidge Practice Fields

#9 Sat 4/10
TBA (Kyle Field)

#10 Sun 4/11

#11 Tue 4/13
6:10am McFerrin Indoor
4:00pm Coolidge Practice Fields

#12 Thu 4/15
6:10am McFerrin Indoor
4:00pm Coolidge Practice Fields

#13 Fri 4/16

#14 Sat 4/17
1:00pm - Maroon & White Game

#15 Tue 4/20

If the rules are consistent from last year, the outdoor practices will be open to the public (with an Aggie Ring).

See ya'll in College Station for the M&W Game!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Update to Early Off-Season Update

I forgot to mention one thing the other day and then we had a little more suprise news come out on Tuesday.

Just after signing day Coach Sherman accepted a walk-on freshman kicker from Kentucky. Ross Gilliam is a 6'7" former soccer player who first started his football career his senior year of high school - thus his limited exposure during the recruiting process. He was incredibly impressive and he's coming to Aggieland - so that is great.

I'm always a bit leery of freshman kickers, as we haven't seemed to have much luck with them.....but adding a leg scholarship free can't hurt anything. If nothing else maybe we can get some more touchbacks and save ourselves from game losing TD KORs.

The more recent news is that we added one more name to the 2010 signing class as monster OLman, Jarvis Harrison (6'4" 323 lbs) of Navasota got his SAT results back and found out that he was going to qualify so he put his name out for interested schools. He, like Gilliam, started football late in life (for Harrison it was his junior year of HS) so it will be interesting to watch him go from raw to refined under Coach Sherman and Coach Turner.


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Early Off-Season Updates

A couple of notes that need to be chronicled.....

Coach Sherman Finishes Off Coaching Staff
Before I shut down my old site we already knew that Coach Kines retired and that we brought in Tim DeRuyter to replace him. Since then we discovered the Nolan Cromwell (OC) has decided to go back to his former NFL team, the StL Rams, to be an assistant coach there.

Sherman has decided to keep the title of OC for himself and will bring in a familiar face to manage the WRs - Steve Kragthorpe. Krag was the WR coach at A&M from '97-'98, while serving double-duty in '99-'00 as the QB coach and OC. More recently he was the head coach at Tulsa and then at Louisville.

On the defensive side of the ball we have the most changes. Only DB coach Charles McMillian remains. Terrell Williams (formerly of Purdue) was brought in to be the DL coach while we have brought in two LBer coaches.....OLB coach Nick Toth and ILB coach DAT NGUYEN.

Toth (TOE-TH) comes to us from The Citadel and played DB for DeRuyter at Ohio.

I'm excited about Dat because he is an Aggie legend - but before everyone goes on to declare him as our next defensive coordinator or "Head Coach in Waiting" we have no idea how well he can recruit or coach, although he did leave an assistant coaching job with the Cowboys to come here. He was a great, well loved player but that doesn't guarantee he is the second coming of Lombardi - although I think we'd all take that.

Since we will have four offensive and five defensive coaches (giving us our 9), I have to assume that Kirk Doll is out but I don't know who will coach the special teams.

My biggest hope is that we got some recruiters....we'll find out next February.

Of our former coaches Van Malone has taken a job with Tulsa and Buddy Wyatt took a job at Kansas.

HC/OC: Mike Sherman
WR: Steve Kragthorpe
OL: Jim Turner
RB: Randy Jordan
DC: Tim DeRuyter
DL: Terrell Williams
ILB: Dat Nguyen
OLB: Nick Toth
DB: Charles McMillian

Schedule Change
Bill Byrne announced a change to the upcoming season schedule as we will move our game against Oklahoma State from Saturday October 2nd to Thursday September 30th. Kickoff is set for 6:30pm and it will be an ESPN nationally televised game.

Thankfully, this game is up in Stillwater. I would hate to give up my treasured Saturday gameday and have to leave work early to make it up there in time for kickoff, get back home, and then go to work the next morning. Instead, I'll be sitting on my couch watching this one with the family.

From a program's perspective - this is great because we will have the entire college football world watching us on a Thursday night. Let's hope that this Thursday night game goes better than '01 Wyoming (won a squeaker against a vastly inferior team), '03 V-Tech (lost), '04 Utah (shocked and slaughtered), and '05 Texas State (slid past a DI-AA school).

Signing Day
I'm not going to really get into this too deeply but we had a heckuva signing class, particularly on the offensive line, which I believe is one of the lynch-pins of a team. Take a look at the 2004 freshmen and redshirt freshmen and you can see that as those guys came into their own we ascended to our better seasons this decade.

We did lose two players, one was not a big shock (Shreveport WR Jarrett Fobbs to LSU) but one blew our doors off - LBer Corey Nelson to OU. Nelson played us, led us on, and flat out lied to us and then turned around and signed with the Sooners. I hope he gets lost on their depth chart.

You can read about all the great guys we landed from the A&M press release.

Four players are already on campus as early enrollees and will benefit from getting to go through spring practices with the rest of the team: Clay Honeycutt (QB), Jameill Showers (QB), Matt Joekell (QB) & Luke Joekell.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


You've probably found your way over here from my previous baby, "Texas A&M & Baseball In No Particular Order".

Well, it's going to take me quite some time to get settled in and there will be much, much less content (I'm thinking maybe 15-20 posts/year).

What I'd like is for this to become more of a reference site than an actual updated blog.

We'll see....Gig'em!