Texas A&M Football: Power Ranking the Aggie Coaches
Many fans and pundits spend the offseason discussing player losses and contingency plans for injuries on various teams. Fans and the media rarely discuss how important certain coaches are to the continuity of the program.
In college football, there is a five-year cycle with players. Even if a player is great as a freshman, he will only be in the program for three more years.
A player will affect what happens on the field for a maximum of four years. A coach will affect what happens on the field for as long as his tenure at that institution is.
The head coaches of football programs receive a lot of publicity, but other than the coordinators, the assistants are basically ignored. Even the most diehard college football fan would struggle to name the wide receiver coach or defensive back coach at their school's rival.
The coaches are the most important aspect of a football program. It does not matter how good the facilities are or how fancy the uniforms look, if a player does not like his position coach, then he is not going to play for that school.
This is a look at the Texas A&M football coaches, ranked by importance to the program.
11. Jeff Banks: Special Teams Coordinator/Tight Ends
Jeff Banks is the Aggies' special teams coordinator and tight ends coach. The tight end position is considered one of the easier to coach on the field.
There is a very limited number of players to deal with and teach. That is why you often see the tight ends coach also double up with some other responsibilities.
The tight end position is often where coaches new to college football start off so they can break into the profession. This is Banks' first year at A&M after spending nine years at UTEP.
Special teams are a very important part of football. It is often overlooked how much it can impact a game until there is a breakdown or mistake on special teams.
Even though the special teams can have a huge impact on the game, Banks occupies the last spot on the power ranking because of his newness to the staff.
10. Marcel Yates: Co-Defensive Coordinator/Secondary
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Marcel Yates coaches the secondary for the Aggies and is also the co-defensive coordinator. Yates joined the Aggie staff when Kevin Sumlin took over in 2012.
He had spent the previous nine seasons coaching the Boise State secondary. Yates coaches the Aggie cornerbacks and safeties.
Even though more Southeastern Conference teams are moving towards the spread, this is still a running league. If the Aggies were playing in the Big 12, then Yates would be more important to the team.
As it stands, the most important components of the defense in this league are in the front seven. Yates appears to be an excellent coach, and the Aggies should see vast improvements in the secondary in 2013.
However, in a league where running the ball and stopping the run win the day, he finds himself towards the bottom of the list when it comes to value in the program.
9. Mark Hagen: Linebackers
Mark Hagen recently joined the Aggie coaching staff to coach the linebackers. He came to Aggieland from the University of Indiana, where he coached defensive tackles and special teams.
Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin coached alongside Hagen on the Purdue and Oklahoma coaching staffs. Like many of the coaches on the Aggie staff, Hagen has experience as a recruiting coordinator at the college level.
Hagen will be tasked with replacing two of the three starting linebackers in the Aggies' 4-3 scheme. He must find adequate replacements for departed seniors Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart.
It will be interesting to see what Hagen does with the 2013 linebackers. With Donnie Baggs at middle linebacker and Tommy Sanders on the outside, the 2013 linebackers will likely be more athletic than those of 2012.
The linebackers carried the Ags' defense for much of 2012. If Hagen can get the 2013 unit to play at the same level of the 2012 unit, then this ranking will prove to be too low.
8. Jake Spavital: Co-Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks
Jake Spavital has one of the more enviable positions in all of college football. He gets to coach Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel.
Spavital is Manziel's position coach and the passing game coordinator for the Aggies. He will give advice to Clarence McKinney on what plays to call, but McKinney will have the final say on what plays go into the game.
Spavital spent the last two years at West Virginia under Dana Holgorsen. He is replacing Kliff Kingsbury, who is now the head coach at Texas Tech.
Both Kingsbury and Holgorsen coached under Kevin Sumlin at Houston. Spavital is part of Sumlin's coaching tree.
His main responsibility will be to keep Manziel calm and engaged in the game. Spavital needs to keep Manziel focused and simply let his other-worldly-level talent take over.
7. Clarence McKinney: Offensive Coordinator/Running Backs
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Clarence McKinney is the running backs coach and offensive coordinator for the Aggies. He will call the plays in 2013.
McKinney came with Kevin Sumlin from Houston and is entering his second season in College Station. He called the plays during the Ags' 41-13 victory over Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.
In that game, Johnny Manziel set bowl records for rushing yards with 287 and total yards with 514. McKinney seemed adept at identifying the defense's weaknesses and bludgeoning them to death.
He coached at Houston Yates High School before joining Sumlin at the University of Houston. McKinney's contacts with Texas high school coaches make him a very valuable commodity in the recruiting world.
6. B.J. Anderson: Offensive Line
The offensive line is the foundation of the entire football team. If you have a good offensive line, then you can base your entire program off of it.
A good offensive line will make average running backs look good and good running backs look great. They can allow a team to control a game with the offense and cover up for deficiencies on defense and special teams.
B.J. Anderson coached the best offensive line in all of college football in 2012. His line paved the way for the Aggies to set an SEC record for total offense.
Anderson will again lead one of the top lines in the country in 2013. Former Aggie head coach Mike Sherman left the offensive line position stocked with talent.
All-American tackle Jake Matthews will move to left tackle in 2013, and right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi should follow in Matthews' footsteps in 2014. Anderson should have excellent offensive lines to coach for years to come.
5. Terry Price: Defensive Line
Terry Price is the defensive line coach for the Aggies. He is a Texas A&M graduate (Class of '89) who has spent 22 years in the coaching profession.
Price is an excellent recruiter and an even better coach. He was able to mold an effective defensive line out of spare parts in 2012.
Spencer Nealy became a very effective SEC defensive tackle under Price's tutelage. The defensive line was a pleasant surprise on a defense that overachieved in many ways in 2012.
Now Price will have more raw talent to work with than he had in 2012. He is tasked with preparing true freshmen defensive tackles Hardreck Walker, Justin Manning, Isaiah Golden and Jordan Points to contribute immediately.
Judging by his performance in 2012, Price should not have many problems in this area. He is one of the most valuable coaches on the Aggie staff.
4. David Beaty: Wide Receivers/Recruiting Coordinator
David Beaty may be the best recruiter in the country. He coaches the wide receiver position for the Aggies, but his main asset is keeping the entire roster stocked with talent.
Beaty is a very good position coach as evidenced by the solid play of the Aggie receivers in 2012. Their blocking downfield stood out in particular, which is rare for the position.
It is obvious that Beaty has his receivers well trained in the fundamentals of the game. Where Beaty really stands out, however, is on the recruiting trail.
He has repeatedly proven that no recruit is unattainable. Beaty has once again made A&M a presence in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The 2013 recruiting class is stocked full of recruits from that area, including LaQuvionte Gonzalez, Justin Manning, Jay Arnold and Kenny Hill.
Beaty is easily one of the most valuable members of the Aggies staff. He has raised recruiting at A&M to another level.
3. Mark Snyder: Defensive Coordinator
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Mark Snyder is the defensive coordinator for the Texas A&M football team. He played a large role in the Aggies' early success in the SEC as his defense exceeded expectations on the field.
The Ags proved to be very strong against the run in 2012. They only allowed 3.7 yards per carry which forced teams into predictable play calls on later downs.
The SEC is a league that is won and lost at the line of scrimmage. Snyder's ability to put a defense on the field that controlled the line of scrimmage was instrumental in the Aggies winning 11 games in 2012.
Because of injuries, the Aggie defense was playing third-team players along the defensive line during the 2013 spring game. Snyder still found a way to control the run.
Snyder was a head coach at Marshall University. He will likely leave A&M to be a head coach again. Until then, he will be one of the top defensive coordinators in the country and a very valuable asset to the Texas A&M program.
2. Larry Jackson: Director of Football Sports Performance
A very strong case could be made that Larry Jackson is the most important member of the Texas A&M football staff. As the director of football sports performance, Jackson is responsible for getting the football team prepared to win on the field.
He did an exceptional job in 2012 in preparing the Aggies to play all four quarters of every game. The Aggies had very little depth, especially on the defensive line and at linebacker.
It was nothing to see the defensive linemen running sideline to sideline in the fourth quarter. The entire team is in top physical condition because they train under Jackson.
As the strength coach, he has access to the players 12 months per year. Jackson is the one constant in their life since the NCAA does not allow the other football coaches to have contact with the players during the offseason.
Jackson helped turn the program around in one year. He would be extremely hard to replace.
1. Kevin Sumlin: Head Coach
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Kevin Sumlin is the man who changed the game at Texas A&M. He was the perfect hire at the perfect time for the Aggies.
All he did in his inaugural season as head coach at A&M was lead the Ags to their first Top Five finish in over 50 years. His 11-2 record in 2012 has changed the way recruits and the national media look at A&M.
Sumlin changed the offense, the practices and the image of Texas A&M football. He is a young, energetic coach who knows how to connect with recruits on a personnel level.
Sumlin plays music during the practices, which the players and recruits both love. The coaches like it because it makes the players focus more.
Now you have former Sumlin disciples Kliff Kingsbury and Brian Polian playing music during the practices at Texas Tech and Nevada, respectfully.
Sumlin has turned the A&M program around in a single year. He awoke the sleeping giant. He is the most important coach in the football program.