December 14, 2013 Brien Straw

The Future of A&M Football







DECEMBER 14, 2013

You can almost feel the electricity that will permeate Kyle Field when it welcomes a "12th Man" 102,000 strong. The goal is for the $450-million dollar renovation to be ready for the 2015 season.  

If the first two years of the Kevin Sumlin era are any indication, there could be a trip to Atlanta - for the SEC Title. Perhaps a trip to Dallas or Miami for one of the College Football Playoff semi-final games that same season. (The Title Game venue has not been determined.) Continue on the path Sumlin has started and A&M could be a title contender in two years.

The magic on the field has been shocking. Even the most loyal 12th man wasn't predicting the Aggies would enter SEC play going 10-6, not after going 37-44 [8th], and just 20-21 at Kyle Field in the final decade of Big 12 play. But thanks to Johnny Football, A&M has been exciting, must-watch, and usually very successful football for Sumlin's brief tenure. 

What bodes extremely well for the future is the recruiting success. As even Mack Brown - at least used to be able to - tell you, recruiting is the life-blood to a championship caliber football program. According to A&M is on track to land the top class, when you base rankings on average star rating of prospect. Sumlin's first "full" class - in which he had a full year in College Station to recruit, he finished eleventh. And even his first signing class, with only December & January before signing day, A&M finished 16th.

However, there is a dark side to be concerned with in Aggie-Land. Just how long will Camelot last?

The recruiting better be as good as advertised, because the team is set to lose it's - generational - quarterback, it's top running back, all world wide receiver, not to mention arguably the best tackle in college football. How will that offense look without Manziel, Evans, Molena, and Mathews?

Before we anoint Sumlin as the best coach in college football shouldn't we at least wait until he actually takes a team to Atlanta? Or wins with his own players? (He didn't have to do that at University of Houston - those were mostly Art Briles kids he won with.)

If he does prove to be college football's offensive version of Nick Saban, with his knew six year contract extension in hand, how long do you trust Kevin Sumlin will be there? 

If you are to believe the story via Ryan Phillips of Rumors & Rants, it's not that Sumlin wasn't willing to take the USC job, he just wasn't willing to interview for it. The blog also appears to confirm another long-held belief, his ultimate goal is the NFL. Let's face it, this is a weak draft class the Texans are entering as they look for their Gary Kubiak replacement. If Sumlin can keep the offense rolling with pinball like scoring, using a quarterback he recruited, the NFL offer won't be too far off. Another successful season in College Station and he won't have to interview for jobs in LA anymore either.

And when it comes to replacing both Manziel and Sumlin, to assume that remaining in the top-third of teams in the SEC is a given, think again. See: Auburn without Cam Newton, Tennessee after Phil Fulmer, Florida without - dare I say it - Tim Tebow. Yep, the fall can be hard for many an elite SEC team. But don't worry too much, that problems just a David Klingler from being fixed. Call it the Gus Malzahn solution.