It’s put up or shut up time in Aggie land.
Coach Mike Sherman, leading the Aggies, is an underwhelming 10-15 over the last two years. Take away those out of conference patsies and it gets worse; the Aggies are 5-11 in Big 12 league play.
Time was the annual Thanksgiving match between them and the Longhorns was the unofficial championship of Texas. No longer.
Former SWC foe TCU, now in the Mountain West, has been a top ten team two years running. Houston, another former SWC rival, has cracked the top 25 while playing in the lowly Conference USA.
And worst of all and despite the Aggie upset of them last year, their battery throwin’ and trash talkin’ rivals from the West Texas plains have a legitimate claim to superiority over the Aggies over the last five years.
Yep, it has come to this. Red Raider fans can taunt the Aggies. Look! Flying pigs.
But the Aggies are primed to go in 2010.
They return the top scoring offense in the Big 12, led by a quarterback that just can make things happen, Jerrod Johnson. Johnson will be surrounded by a talented crew on offense with eight returning starters. They’ll score more than a rich boy with a drunken co-ed.
And the defense, which stunk like three day old fish last year, should improve dramatically.
For starters…well, there are a lot of returning starters. Nine, in fact.
At the college level that extra year increases not only a players experience and skill level, but also their basic physical attributes. Unlike the pros, where offseason work maintains strength, at the college level there are usually significant increases in strength and, to a lesser extent, speed.
This is due to the fact that the athletes in college are still growing and have not usually reached maximum capacity until close to their senior year.
So nine returning starters should translate into much, much better on-field performance.
Add to this the hiring of defensive coach Tim DeRuyter from Air Force and the implementation of a 3-4 scheme that suits the Aggie personnel, and the defense should be able to hold its own in 2010.
Net, all of this translates into big, big, big expectations in College Station. If the Aggies don’t ring up at least eight wins this year expect heads to fall, starting with Sherman.
Now, I don’t think it’ll happen. As I written before, I’m predicting a nine win season for the Aggies. I would not be surprised to see them ring up a few more than that. But, if Sherman can’t do it he’ll be gone.
Which leads us to the question: Who would be a good candidate for his replacement if he does fail?
Can you say buccaneer?
There’s this guy who is having a few legal issues with his former employer, who will not be coaching this year. Likes to throw the ball around a lot, and has proven he can win in the Big 12 despite having to recruit against better armed foes. He’ll be available in 2011.
Goes by the name of Mike Leach.
Surly you jest, say you gentle reader. Nope. I’m as serious as a heart attack.
Leach would be a great fit for A&M.
He knows how to recruit in Texas. If he can get a kid to join Tech on the windswept plains of Lubbock, he’ll clean house recruiting for A&M, where the fan support and game atmosphere at Aggieland is an instant intoxicant for a dewy eyed high school prospect.
Leach has also proved that he can win in the Big 12, making a run at the national championship only two years ago at Tech.
His outsider persona and penchant for tweaking the powers that be would also be a good fit at A&M. Aggieland has always viewed itself as a special place, separate and distinct from the rest of the university world. One can imagine with relish his anti-Longhorn tirades before the Thanksgiving game, fodder for a hungry Aggie fan base. They'd eat it up.
And boy, would old Mike love to have the job. He’d be able to stick it to Tech and enjoy a program with a real chance of a run at a national championship.
Yep, more I think of it, Leach would be great for the Aggies. Have em’ playing for the big stakes year in and year out.
So, if Sherman stumbles: could the scalawag of the plains alight in College Station?