Was Colin Cowherd Right about Aggie Football?

If you’re offended by what Colin Cowherd said about A&M underachieving then you’re part of the problem.  He nailed it.  He absolutely nailed it.  I believe Texas A&M is a Top 10 program to win a National Championship.  I’m not talking a coaching job, history, tradition, or anything else that most people look at.  I’m talking in its current state the ability to win a national championship and nothing more.  In the current climate of college football I strongly believe Texas A&M is a Top 10 program to win a national championship.

To put it in perspective I think LSU is the top program in the country to win a national championship.  Nobody has the resources of athletes and attitude to win like LSU.  I firmly believe that.  Nobody has the quality of athletes in one state all to themselves and LSU has the attitude to win.  I think Les Miles definitely under achieved if you’re wondering.  When I measure a school right now I’m simply looking at winning a national championship as that’s all that matters to me.  What you did in the past doesn’t matter to me.  Region, conference, facilities, and support are really all that matter to win a national championship in this day and age.  Just look at Notre Dame and Nebraska to what tradition and history get you in this modern age.

There aren’t more than 10 schools that have Texas A&M’s resources for athletes and facilities to win a national championship.  There is no reason we can’t do what Florida State does on the field.  We’re just missing the attitude.  This attitude has caused us to hire and hang on too long to the wrong coach time and time again.  RC Slocum failed to see the recruiting game changing when OU hired Bob Stoops, LSU hired Nick Saban, and Texas hired Mack Brown.  Blame facilities all you want as RC did but the reality is RC now had competition in recruiting and he struggled.  He was not on the level of Stoops, Saban, or Brown when it came to recruiting.  The attitude of RC being defeated along with administrators being asleep at the wheel for the changing landscape in college football ended the dominant decade from 1985 to 1995.  We were actually dominant for a decade in the last 35 years but so many people forget.  I’ll write about that decade in a later blog.

We replaced RC with Fran which wound up being the greatest criminal act in Aggie football history.  Fran set this program on a downward spiral that we’ve yet to recover from.  In Fran we hired a guy that had already won a national championship in his mind.  This is a guy that honestly already hired a biographer who followed him around and had already selected the title of his autobiography.  Seriously.  I wish I could remember the title as it was clear Fran was always about himself and nothing more.  He didn’t know how to get it done on the field though.  It seemed like a slam dunk hire but it wound up being criminal as Fran cashed big checks producing nothing.

After Fran came a fine man in Mike Sherman but he wasn’t cut out to be a college football head coach.  The man loved Aggieland and was a solid offensive coach but as a head coach he failed.  Mike Sherman was built to be an NFL offensive coordinator.  He was never built to be a college head coach.  He didn’t get recruiting and he didn’t totally get how the college game works.  That hire always boggled my mind because on the Friday night of the announcement of Fran being let go Bill Byrne said we would begin an immediate national search.  Byrne wound up in a hotel room in Hempstead that weekend talking to Sherman and announced his hiring on Monday.  We rushed a hiring on Mike Sherman and then allowed him to finish his coordinating job for the Texans.  While that’s an admirable thing for Sherman to do that wasn’t a winning attitude by A&M.  The whole timing of that hire still boggles my mind.  It wasn’t the attitude to win a national championship.

After Sherman was let go we hired Kevin Sumlin.  This hire kind of made sense as Sumlin had done a fine job at Houston and got Texas A&M as a former assistant under Slocum.  He seemed dynamic and knew the state.  I didn’t mind the hire and when he caught lightening in a bottle in 2012 I thought we were on our way to dominance.  That glory would be short lived as Sumlin wasn’t the secret sauce to that 2012 season.  It was senior leadership on defense, a dominant offensive line thanks to Sherman, a good receiving corps with Evans and Swope, and obviously Johnny Football.  Sumlin just happened to have the headset when lightening was caught in that bottle.

I don’t think Sumlin is a horrible head coach and would actually list him as the top coach of Slocum, Fran, Sherman, and himself.  He recruits well, has a decent staff, and has won a reasonable amount of games.  The problem is his attitude.  He doesn’t hate losing enough.  He has thin skin and wants to be liked.  Losing doesn’t drive him.  It frustrates him because it means a decline in popularity.  He doesn’t consume himself in the game and the game plan all week leading up to the game.  He doesn’t read the flow of the game at all.  His clock management has gotten worse.  He hasn’t changed his approach in 5 years.  Just his staff.  I hope Sumlin wins 9 games this season and proves me wrong.  I want Kevin Sumlin to be coach that Makes Aggie Football Great Again.  I just don’t think he has it in him.

Going back to Cowherd he’s dead on.  Since 1998 we haven’t even played for a conference championship much less won one.  That’s almost 20 years y’all.  20 years since we even played for a conference championship.  I won’t list the schools that have played for a conference championship much less won one in the last 20 years.  The biggest bowl win was the 2012/2013 Cotton Bowl.  We haven’t even sniffed a bowl of that caliber outside of the 2012 season since 1998.  The Cotton Bowl in 2004/2005 doesn’t count as it was a second tier bowl back then.  Plus, Tennessee kicked our ass.  Since that Big XII Championship in 1998 other than 2012 we really haven’t done a damn thing in football.  We really haven’t.  I think it’s all in our attitude.  We don’t hate losing like other schools.  We want to win but if we don’t then it’s no big deal.  We’re just happy being Aggies which is a great thing but those at the top need to develop a killer instinct.

I assume Sumlin is replaced this season because his 5 years indicates he won’t win 9 games to save his job.  If that happens we have to have a killer instinct when it comes to hiring the next coach.  We have to nail this next hire because the college football landscape is changing again as the decline in cable will change things in the next 10 years.  History and tradition don’t matter to recruits as much as it has in the past.  I firmly believe conference, facilities, and most importantly winning are the three factors that matter the most for getting recruits.  We are the ONLY Texas school in the premier football conference in college.  Sure, the ACC has made up major ground but it’s still the SEC and everyone else.  Look at the recent draft.  Until the SEC stops dominating the NFL draft it’s the premiere conference.  Recruits want the dream to play in the NFL and the SEC can sell that dream better than anyone.  You have to sell that and A&M can being in the SEC.  It’s the ONLY school in the state of Texas that can.  It’s huge.  However, like anything it’s not likely to last forever.  There could be a window we’re looking at and we need to take advantage of it while we can before it’s gone.  We need to become at minimum what Florida State is and pronto.

As for facilities we have the largest stadium in the premiere conference.  Facilities aren’t our problem.  We can’t rest on our facilities and not keep updating them but the RC Slocum issue of having facilities that are lagging behind is not even close.  We have the facilities to sell recruits.  We’re in one of the best hot beds of talent anywhere in the country.  Conference and region are major strengths for us.  It puts us above traditional powers.

What we really can’t sell right now is winning.  We’re not losing big time but we’re missing that killer instinct to close out a season.  It’s all about attitude.  With the exception of 2012, Kevin Sumlin’s time has resulted in failing down the stretch.  We’ve seen plenty of Top 10 rankings in under Sumlin but the minute it happens we tend to immediately fall.  It’s all attitude in my mind.  Those in charge don’t get pissed off about underachieving.  At least if they get pissed off they don’t channel it in the right way.  Cowherd is totally right about culture.

I believe this next coaching hire is likely to be the most important hire in Aggie football history.  Maybe more than when we hired Jackie Sherrill and put Texas A&M on a track to dominate for a decade.  We’re sitting in the SEC and not doing anything with it.  We are completely set up to be the Western outpost for the premier conference in college football.  If you’re west of the Mississippi and want to play in the SEC there’s only one school you should consider and that’s Texas A&M.  Technically Arkansas and Missouri are west of the Mississippi but we shouldn’t be competing with them for recruits on a national level west of the Mississippi.  That should be our recruiting pitch – The destination SEC school for any recruit west of the Mississippi.    But I don’t think that’s our attitude.  We’re just happy being Aggies in the SEC.

We need to have an attitude to do better than obvious hires.  Fran, Sherman, and Sumlin were all obvious and easy hires.  They all had ties to either Texas or Texas A&M and were safe and obvious hires.  No dice was rolled when the hire was made.  For this hire Texas A&M needs to either hire a big time guy like James Franklin or a very calculated roll of the dice for someone different than what we’ve hired in the past.  No more obvious hires.  I don’t think there’s a slam dunk obvious hire sitting out there for us like Tom Herman and Texas so we need to do something different.  I think the floor for us should be Chad Morris as that’s an obvious hire but even then we need to look deeper into whom the next coach should be.  Channel the disappointment in losing and make a hire that’s been different than in the past.

Cowherd was 100% spot on.  Even his comment about not being better than Arkansas.  That seems to annoy Aggies the most but he’s right.  The era of Bobby Petrino was on par with any era at A&M since 1998.  They too just hired the wrong coach after Petrino went for that Sunday ride on his motorcycle.  We’re really no better than Arkansas for the most part despite being 5-0 against them in the last 5 years.  Do we really need to remember the 3 games prior to that when Arkansas beat us?  So we’re 5-3 since playing them again.  They ain’t far off.

So it’s all about attitude with Texas A&M Football.  No more hires of guys who are just happy about getting the head coaching job at Texas A&M.  No more making the easy and obvious hire.  It’s all about hiring someone that wants to establish Texas A&M as a Top 10 program for winning the national championship and being the Western outpost for football in the SEC.   Finding someone that hates losing more than they love winning.  Someone that is willing to hire someone they’re not familiar with simply because they realize that hire makes them greater.  Someone with a real winning attitude and willing to put in the work.

Attitude.  Cowherd nailed.  The culture is off.  Until the attitude changes and everyone realizes it’s more than just facilities and conference and it’s about not accepting losing nothing will change at Texas A&M.  I’m not talking about getting angry and throwing chairs or breaking stuff.  That’s channeling losing the wrong way.  I’m talking about using losing as a driver to become a better program.  The hate of losing needs to identify the mistakes that were made, admitting to those mistakes, and not making those mistakes again.  That’s how the attitude changes.  And it needs to be changed.  If Kevin Sumlin doesn’t do it to win 9 games this season those in charge of the next hire need to do it in hiring the next coach.


Random notes:

Did you know Bill Byrne was the AD when Fran, Sherman, and Sumlin were hired?  He’s the sole person of leadership that has a common tie to all of those hires.  He has the sole hand in the almost two decades of under achieving.

Here are the Top 10 programs I consider having the best capability of winning a national championship in current day college football due to location, conference, facilities, and attitude.  This is in no order other than LSU at the top because I genuinely feel they have the most talented team top to bottom every year.

Florida State
Ohio State
Texas A&M

I really feel that A&M is above programs like Oklahoma, Miami, Tennessee, Auburn, Penn St, Notre Dame, Clemson, and others.  Being the only SEC school in Texas is a MAJOR advantage but we’re squandering it right now because of our attitude.  If we had a coach like Jimbo Fisher we’d be there.  There is NO reason we can’t have the success of Florida State because we can get the athletes if we win.  We have to nail this next hire and start winning.

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