1. We had an Eric Hyman sighting at the Heisman ceremony. He was right there on the row behind Coach Sumlin. That's right, we do have an athletic director. At this point, I'm not sure what to think about him. I'm so used to the high profile, in your face, "it's all about me" style of Bill Byrne that when I see an athletic director taking a backseat to others, it's a shock. I do like and respect executives that enter a new situation and sit back, observe, and understand the organization before blindly putting their stamp on things. Then again, things seem to be going pretty good with the sit and watch approach. Talk about an easy way to make your salary as an AD. Smile, shake hands, and watch Johnny Manziel scramble to the end zone. Think about the good fortune of Mr. Hyman. He shows up for the inaugural SEC season and immediately gets ESPN College Gameday in town for some good free PR. Then he sits back as Sumlin, Scooby, and the gang rip through a 10-2 season. Throw in a little Heisman Trophy for good measure with a splash of Outland Trophy and Davey O'Brien and Hyman has this operation in cruise control. Well, he will start to earn his keep soon despite the good fortune he's stepped into at A&M. These coaches are being pursued and he will need to be proactive and spend some coin. I'm sure he'll be monitoring the basketball situation, and I'm not talking about just the on-court performance. The athletic department must come up with a strategic plan to create more visibility, buzz, and butts in the seats. Sure, winning is a factor, but it's not the only factor. Byrne did a good job of getting the right coaches in place and winning games, but he failed miserably in leveraging that success to increase interest, attendance, and revenues in hoops. So if you ask me, that's what I'm looking for the most...will he take a proactive approach to fixing the business of basketball at Texas A&M. Even as much as Gary Blair wins and markets his team, attendance is pretty average by women's basketball standards.
2. Last year, Forbes Magazine calculated the value of RGIII's winning the Heisman Trophy at $250 million. I heard the Forbes guy on the radio today and he said Manziel's Heisman Trophy win will create much more value to Texas A&M. Also, in a few weeks they will come out with their Top 20 of most valuable college football brands based on future revenues. Texas has been No. 1 for several years and is expected to stay there in this latest poll. He said that because of A&M's success in the SEC and all of the increased national exposure that generates more merchandising and operational revenues, A&M will definitely move up the ladder. The Ags were No. 17 last year and he expects A&M to creep a few spots just outside the top 10...with room to grow and move up if the university continues to capitalize on this momentum.
3. You know the worm has turned when the Texas sites have Sunday updates on their big recruiting weekend that includes "Texas did a great job of solidifying the commitments of players x and y" and the classic "The staff didn't get any commits but they made up a lot of ground and are in the thick of it. We'll know more when he gets back from Ohio State" Man, where have I heard those inside source talking points before? Texas lost a RB to TCU and they are about to lose their one five-star to USC.
4. I was promised that Hostess would sell Ding Dongs to another bakery and I wouldn't be without my brain food for more than a few weeks. Hell, I see no action on the legal end and the grocery shelf that used to house the Hostess display has some no-name cupcake product and that Little Debbie's crap of a cake roll. I'm really getting in a bad mood over this. I may have to break down and go to Sam's Club and get the Dolly Madison version of Zingers. Seriously, what has this world come to? It doesn't get any more Americana than Twinkies, Ding Dongs, and Ho-Ho's. What's next....no Cheez Whiz!
5. I talked to some of the Mississippi guys at Scout about Za"Darius Smith, the DE from East Mississippi CC who is originally from Alabama. Despite visiting Texas this weekend, they don't seem overly concerned about the Horns. They still think he's likely to go to Mississippi State that's close to home and where a couple of his current teammates are committed. Also, they said Smith was very close to committing to Auburn earlier in the process but apparently some friction occurred with the Chizik staff and he stopped looking at the Tigers. Now that Malzahn is in the saddle, he's already reached out to Za'darius and these guys feel if Malzahn can quickly patch up this relationship that there's a good chance he stays right there in Alabama and signs w/ Auburn. FWIW, A&M sources still feel somewhat good about their chances as they provide immediate playing time on a national championship contender. Close to home w/ momma vs. business decision. Remember when we were on momma's side of these recruiting battles? From what I've been told, Smith is probably the highest priority left on the board. The staff is trying to find the eventual replacement for Damontre Moore who will likely go pro.
6. Mississippi State is also in the mix for Butler LB Tommy Sanders along with A&M and Ohio State. The A&M staff has stayed in contact but it sounds like they would like more time and aren't pushing for a commit. On his visit to A&M, he was ready to pull the trigger but Sumlin did not push for the commit. Still, Coach Wallerstedt keeps recruiting him so we're in limbo at the moment. However, I was told that Ohio State likes him and is pushing for a commit. If A&M doesn't start pushing pretty soon, I think Sanders will go ahead and pull the trigger. Timing will be important. He was supposed to announce on 12/12 but it's sounding like he may take some more time.
7. When is the last time that the No. 1 player in the state committed so early and without a formal press conference? Well, it may just happen today when Hoza Scott is expected to make it official and commit to the Aggies. Scott is considered by some to be the No. 1 2014 LB in the nation. I spoke to a source close to Scott and they confirmed his intent to go public with the news. Well, he's been hinting at it for weeks now and has posted teasers on his twitter account. That will make three Top 10 prospects committed for 2014 that includes Scott at No. 1 and Lancaster DB Nick Harvey at No. 3.
8. I'm getting out of the business of predicting what Texas Tech will do for a head coach. What we do know on the record is that Tech AD Hocutt did travel to South Carolina to interview Clemson OC and former student Chad Morris. Now, rumors have suggested that Hocutt also traveled to Tennessee to interview defensive coach and former Texas DB Jerry Gray. Another report also suggested that Kliff Kingsbury interviewed as well. Finally, even Brent Venables has been rumored to be one of the finalists. The rumors are flying. Some suggesting that Chad Morris is their No. 1 choice and the AD interviewed Kingsbury simply to placate the donor base who want the prodigal son to return to Lubbock at age 33 with only four years of coaching experience. Others are suggesting that Kingsbury is the choice and could take a coach with him. What we do know is that if the job is offered to him, he will likely take it barring complications with compensation and terms.
9. The focus has been on Kingsbury, but word surfaced yesterday that defensive coordinator Mark Snyder's name had been mentioned as a candidate for the Kent St. job that was recently vacated. Snyder was the head man at Marshall so an opportunity to return to action as a head coach in a familiar region might catch his eye. We'll do some digging on Wednesday to see if this story has legs. Also, Brian Polian had been mentioned as a finalist for the UTEP job, but that position was filled on Tuesday by the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive line coach who is a UTEP alum.
10. If/when Scott makes it official, that will give Coach Sumlin and the Aggies the No. 1 recruit in the state for two consecutive classes (Ricky Seals-Jones 2013 class). Ironically, RSJ was the last player to commit just two days ago. The last time Texas A&M signed the top-rated player in the state was 1994 when LB James "Trent" Driver from Cleveland joined the Aggies. He was part of a heralded LB group that included Dat Nguyen, Warrick Holdman, and Philip Meyers. So much for rankings. Driver ended up being the third best LB in that class much less the best football player in Texas.
FYI, I found this Houston Chronicle archive link that discusses Driver and the infamous Jerrod Douglass controversy. It also happened to be the year that Tony Hooten started the first Texas A&M recruiting site on the fledgling Internet.
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