Alabama Football: Aggies’ plan to dominate Texas is to emulate the Alabama Crimson Tide.
The old saying is everything is bigger in Texas. One example is a big Aggies’ want, to match the success of Alabama football. In recent seasons, Aggie fans and some deep-pocket donors have learned, matching the Alabama Crimson Tide takes more than joining the SEC.
It seemed easy at first, in 2012. Hire a hot, offensive-minded coach, join the SEC, beat the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. In College Station, championship expectations quickly followed. Those championship dreams have ebbed considerably. After a five-season slide with Kevin Sumlin as head coach, a massive ($75M) guaranteed contract was given to Jimbo Fisher.
Only six active, college football coaches have won an FBS Championship. Jimbo is one, from the 2013 season when Florida State won the BCS National Championship.
The Aggies had only to look at their history to remember how daunting is the challenge to be a National Champion. The last one Texas A&M claims is from the 1939 season. Their only other goes back to the 1919 season. The Aggies were apparently a force is the year after WWI. No opponent scored on them all season.
The lessons of history considered not pertinent, the Aggies have massively invested in football. Kyle Field is a showplace. Their football facilities are on par with the nation’s elite teams. No expense has been spared, evidenced by Jimbo’s guaranteed contract.
Jimbo’s first two seasons have given the Aggies wins in the Gator and Texas Bowls, plus a highest AP Poll ranking of No. 12, last season. Those are hardly dividends expected from a $75M investment. Progress has been made in recruiting, making up for recruiting deficiencies in Sumlin’s last few seasons.
High coaching salaries have compressed the time for expected success. A coach without a major turn-around, by his third season, is often deemed a failure. For the Aggies and Fisher, the time is now. The opening 17-12 win over Vandy was a slap in the face to the entire TAMU football program. Saturday will provide a true measurement of how close, or how far away, the Aggies are from catching Alabama football.
An eighth consecutive loss to the Crimson Tide would severely dampen the too-high TAMU expectations. A look back at Aggie football history might provide more realistic expectations. At the end of the 2002 season, Head Coach, R.C. Slocum was persuaded to retire. In his 14 Aggie seasons, his team won 72.1 percent of games.
Dennis Franchione followed Slocum and over five seasons his Aggies teams won 52.5 percent of their games. Mike Sherman followed Fran and in four seasons, Sherman’s win record was 50 percent. In six seasons as TAMU head coach, Kevin Sumlin won 66.2 percent of his games. In two seasons and a game, Jimbo Fisher has won 66.7 percent. Only the most optimistic Aggie can find am upward trajectory on this history.
Alabama football fans should not interpret this post as disrespectful of Texas A&M football. Detail about the shared histories of the Tide and the Aggies shows how deep the respect is between the programs.