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Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Sumlin’

This Must Be Rock Bottom, Houston Hopes

This is the bottom, I think – and Houston hopes. The most damning factoid that could be used to define a team is that it forced five turnovers yet lost the turnover battle, as the Cougars did on Saturday night. U.C.L.A. had five turnovers; Houston had six. What the heck is going on here? Through three weeks, there has be no more disappointing team in college football. No team has suffered a more inexplicable loss, with all due to respect to Pittsburgh, Arkansas and Wyoming, among others. Of the 27 teams that notched double-digit wins last fall, how many seem assured of not reaching that mark in 2012? I’ll say three: Arkansas State, Arkansas… and Houston.

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    No. 55: Texas A&M

    Mike Sherman didn’t lose his job by blowing a halftime lead against Oklahoma State. He didn’t lose his job by blowing another sizable halftime advantage a week later, when the Aggies lost to Arkansas in Dallas. It wasn’t Missouri that sealed his fate, even if that loss may have been worse, in a way; the Aggies followed up 17 unanswered points from the Tigers with a field goal to force overtime, only to lose in the first extra frame. Sherman lost his job because of two losses: Oklahoma and Texas. He’s not the first coach at A&M to be dismissed because of losses to the Sooners and Longhorns, mind you, but he will be the last. From here, A&M needs to remake its standards. Since the formation of the Big 12 — since the university first fielded a team, actually — the Aggies weighed success against Texas. Once Oklahoma caught fire under Bob Stoops, the university began judging its program against these two perennial powers. What does A&M use for a barometer now that it’s part of the SEC?

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      The Backfield Depth in College Station

      I can think of several valid reasons why Texas A&M’s running back situation has gone overlooked before, during and after Kevin Sumlin’s first spring with the program. One reason is Sumlin himself, who steps in for Mike Sherman at a crucial juncture in the program’s history; this juncture doubles as the second reason, with A&M mere months away from its SEC debut. Then there are more nuts-and-bolts reasons, such as Ryan Tannehill’s departure and the ensuing quarterback competition and the move from Sherman’s pro-style system to the Air Raid-themed offense favored by Sumlin and new offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury.

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        Looking in House, Not Outside the Program

        In the wide number of cases, new coordinators are hired as part of a brand-new staff: see Calvin Magee at Arizona, for example, or Ohio State’s Tom Herman, or Mike Breske at Washington State. If an offensive or defensive coordinator is hired from elsewhere to join an incumbent coaching staff, however, it’s for one of two simple reasons: attrition or incompetence. Likewise for assistant coaches promoted up the ladder from within a staff, as occurred in 10 different instances during the latest coaching cycle. This includes Houston, which replaced Kevin Sumlin with Tony Levine, who in turn replaced former defensive coordinator Brian Stewart with Jamie Bryant.

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          Texas A&M and South Carolina… Rivals?

          Texas A&M, meet South Carolina. Gamecocks, meet the Aggies. Rivals? In name, perhaps. While the two programs have never met on the field — or anywhere else, for all I know — the SEC is expected make A&M and Carolina cross-divisional rivals; this was first implied by U.S.C. president Harris Pastides, who discussed the potential pairing over the weekend with a local news affiliate, and then confirmed on Monday over Twitter by A&M president R. Bowen Loftin. For Carolina, a permanent rivalry with the Aggies would end its annual game with Arkansas. The two have met every year since 1992, when both joined the conference – U.S.C. as a former Independent, Arkansas from the SWC.

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            The Year in Review: Houston (13-1, 8-0)

            In chronological order, every Houston three-and-out, not counting any from out of victory formation, on the 2011 season:

            U.C.L.A. (W, 38-34)
            1. 2nd quarter (10-7): sack, incomplete, complete.

            North Texas (W, 48-23)
            2. 4th quarter (48-23): complete, incomplete, incomplete.

            Louisiana Tech (W, 35-34)
            3. 1st quarter (0-0): run, incomplete, incomplete.
            4. 2nd quarter (7-17): run, complete, complete.

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              Reviewing the WAC’s 2012 Dance Card

              It’s here. Finally. Are you excited? Weeks after the SEC, Big 12, Big Ten and A.C.C. lifted the curtain and unveiled their league-wide schedules for the 2012 season, the WAC has joined the party. Some names will be familiar: Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Idaho and Utah State. Another, Texas State, is new to the WAC. A third, Texas-San Antonio, is not only new to the WAC but new to college football altogether: 2011 marked the Roadrunners’ first season of football on any level, so it’s been a quick move from nothing to the WAC — and please save your jokes about there being little difference between the current WAC and utter nothingness.

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                The Year in Review: U.C.L.A. (6-8, 5-4)

                Urban Meyer aced his hires, as most expected, and Kevin Sumlin brought no slouches to Texas A&M, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Paul Chryst brought the band with him to Pittsburgh, which should help the Panthers land the degree of consistency they craved after Todd Graham’s one-and-done year with the program. Rich Rodriguez brought some quality names with him to Arizona; it’s not surprising that his offensive staff is loaded, but reeling in Jeff Casteel was his biggest hiring coup. If you’re looking for the best new staff in college football, however, the conversation begins and ends in Westwood.

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                  The Countdown

                  A bottom-to-top assessment of the F.B.S. landscape heading into the 2012 season.