A&M Must Take Bulldogs Seriously

The Texas A&M football team will open up the Kevin Sumlin era on Thursday in Shreveport against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. The Aggies go into the season opener with a lot of talent but a lot of questions breaking the seal on a new air-based offense, a new 4-3 defense, and a new redshirt freshman quarterback.

The Texas A&M football team will open up the Kevin Sumlin era on Thursday in Shreveport against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs. The Aggies go into the season opener with a lot of talent but a lot of questions breaking the seal on a new air-based offense, a new 4-3 defense, and a new redshirt freshman quarterback. In addition, the Bulldogs under Sonny Dykes won its final seven regular season games in 2011 and came within a touchdown of clipping nationally-ranked TCU in the bowl game.

History is not on the Aggies' side when it comes to new coaching regimes. If A&M is to win this game in impressive fashion, they will have to break from history.

First, let's talk about season records during transition years. I looked at the first season performance of each new coaching regime at Texas A&M over the past 60 seasons. Now, I took out those seasons where somebody from the existing staff took over (Tom Wilson, R.C. Slocum) since their was continuity from year-to-year with many of the same coaches and schemes. I basically looked at first seasons with a completely new staff.

You have to go back to 1951 and Raymond George to find a first year A&M football coach that had a winning record. He finished his first campaign going 5-3.

Since then, 11 new coaching regimes have been hired with no connection to the previous staff, and they have all had losing records in their first season. That includes Bear Bryant, Emory Bellard, and Jackie Sherrill.

As far as opening games of a coaching regime, there was Mike Sherman's 18-14 home loss to Arkansas St. Dennis Franchione actually beat ASU in his debut, but the 26-11 final was far below expectations. Jackie Sherrill opened his A&M career with a 38-16 home loss to Boston College.

Emory Bellard opened the 1972 season with a win over a Wichita State team still recovering from their 1970 plane crash that killed 30 players, but then lost the next six games including a 10-point loss to Army at home.

That's not to say that Sumlin and A&M will have the same fate. In fact, in his first game as a head coach at University of Houston, he put a 55-3 whipping on Southern. Sumlin has inherited a better team than those other coaches, but typically there is a transition period with a new staff.

With its big advantage along both lines of scrimmage, Texas A&M is favored by more than a touchdown to win the game (if played!), but I don't see the blow out that some Aggie fans are predicting. I have a hard time seeing a 20-point win with so many unknowns. If they do win by 20+ points, I think that bodes very well for the future. Some A&M fans expecting a big win are setting themselves up for disappointment if this team "only" wins by a couple of scores. They shouldn't.

Louisiana Tech is coming off a WAC championship and two road wins over SEC teams in 2011 and most of that starting unit returning in 2012. Texas A&M has a lot of new stuff to digest for the first time on Thursday...new coach, new offense, new defense, and a new quarterback. The Aggies have the talent advantage and should control the line of scrimmage on both sides, but A&M better come to play and not look past the Bulldogs to the big SEC home opener against Florida.

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