Texas A&M football outlook for the 2016 season. Has any program won less with more hype? Kevin Sumlin, though, has to come up with a big season after all the controversy.
Texas A&M gets way too-much hype and attention, and while it looks drop-dead gorgeous at times, there’s been little substance behind all the exposure and press despite being bound by absolutely nothing. There’s an endless well of resources to draw from and a fan base that eats up absolutely everything it does.
Texas A&M is a Kardashian.
And now after looking so good and doing so many amazing, shiny, splashy things under head coach Kevin Sumlin, the wheels appear to be coming off in the recruiting world and the program is no longer the happening place to be.
But before dogging Sumlin too much for the recent slide and the problems keeping a quarterback around, when it comes to the “you are what your record is” world of football, what’s happening at A&M just isn’t that bad with 36 victories in his four years.
Georgia has just four more victories over the span with 40. LSU has 37, Ole Miss has 34, Florida 32, Tennessee 26 and Arkansas 22. The A&M expectations might be at a Texas-sized level, but the high-end results just aren’t, and that’s the problem.
The last Texas A&M national championship came in 1939. There was a tie for the Big 12 South title in 2010, but Oklahoma ended up representing the division in the championship game.
The last conference title? 1998, in a shocking upset over Kansas State for the Big 12 championship, and before that, the Aggies won the 1993 Southwest Conference championship.
But everything appeared to be changing under Sumlin with great recruiting class after great recruiting class, a fun, high-powered offense that everyone wanted to be a part of, and with the hope that this was going to be the new superpower.
Unfortunately, now A&M is blowing through five-star quarterbacks like Kim K used to go through famous husbands with Kenny Hill, Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray all trying to replace Johnny Manziel, and then leaving when they couldn’t come close. And now, with star 2017 prospect QB Tate Martell decommitting from the Aggies, Johnny Football turning into Johnny Mugshot, and with two straight 8-5 seasons, A&M is mired into its familiar role as Also Ran U.
Sumlin isn’t under any more pressure than just about any other SEC head coach. Unfortunately, this is the world of the SEC – not everyone can win the conference title, and at least ten fan bases come into every year expecting nothing less.
Remember, A&M had back-to-back losing seasons in 2008 and 2009 and couldn’t crack the Oklahoma-Texas world back in the Big 12 South days. But things are different now in the post-Manziel era. Aggie fans had a taste of potential greatness, and now they want it back.
So what’s it going to take for Sumlin to get his groove back? What does he need to do to stop all the negativity and all the problems? Winning would be nice, and this year’s team might be able to do that.
What’s the cure for all the quarterback flakiness of the last few seasons? Oklahoma transfer Trevor Knight, who might not be anything truly special, but he’s a veteran who’s been through the wars and won’t be fazed by all the drama. With one of the best receiving corps in the nation to work with, the offense should show some of the old firepower if the line can keep Knight in one piece.
If Manziel was the star of the A&M offense since the move over to the SEC, that’s what Myles Garrett will be for the defensive side with No. 1 overall draft pick potential, a great story, and the hype coming to be one of the must-watch guys every Saturday.
There’s the normal array of high-profile SEC showdowns to get excited about, and a huge opener against UCLA, but outside of a trip to Alabama, just about every big battle is at home or at a neutral site.
Will eight wins get it done to keep Sumlin around? Probably not. With all the problems and all the negativity, another mediocre year might mean it’s time to try something else.
Nine wins? Maybe, if there’s a massive win along the way and the losses aren’t that bad.
Ten wins not only keeps Sumlin around, but a big season like that might make him ready to take an even harder look at the NFL, or vice versa.
But this isn’t going to be an SEC West championship season unless everyone else in the division totally melts down. There won’t be a national title, and there won’t be a conference championship.
Texas A&M won’t win anything, again, but it’ll be dramatic, and it’ll be entertaining.