It's a Maroon Perfect Storm

It takes a lot of smarts and a little luck for that perfect storm to facilitate a significant shift in the hierarchy of a NCAA football program. With Saturday's road win over No. 1 Alabama, that perfect storm of events may have just happened for the Texas A&M football team.

The course of history and civilization as we know it can boil down to a few critical decisions or critical events that don't seem so important at the time. What if the Germans in World War II did not open the eastern front against the Russians, diverting significant resources away from Western Europe? Maybe we would be speaking German now while Nena and her "luft balloons" would be more than a one-hit wonder. What if an innocent bystander did not fire his gun that triggered the Battle of Lexington and eventually started the Revolutionary War? Maybe we'd all have bad teeth and drive on the left side of the road. What if the weather was fine when Napoleon invaded Russia? Maybe our tax rate would be going up to 90%.

Okay, maybe I'm getting too serious here. After all, this is a piece on Texas A&M football and our fearless animated canine quarterback that has exploded onto the national sports scene in one of the most phenomenal storylines in A&M sports history. Yeah, this is E. King Gill stuff where legends and traditions are born. It's also where a change in the course of Texas A&M athletics history could be born, because make no mistake about it, there is fear in Austin that the Longhorn reign as the only collegiate super-power in the lone star state is in real jeopardy. The events of the past two years have come together remarkably into this perfect storm that in retrospect could change the course of history for collegiate athletics in the state of Texas that has been incredibly stable in terms of hierarchy and pecking order. Sure, the Aggies had an "uprising" in the late 1980's and early 1990's, but it wasn't a seismic shift of power. It was a hiccup in the Longhorn machine that was quickly remedied with a good coaching hire, and the world of this state's college athletics returned to the status quo of the previous 100 years.

But this perfect storm of events may be that seismic shift…the most significant macro event to happen to Aggie sports fans and this university in its 130+ year history triggered by both significant university strategic decisions and seemingly trivial decisions by football coaches and a 17 year-old teenager. In retrospect, the decision of a teenager from Kerrville, TX could have been the final piece to what is shaping up to be an epic moment in Texas A&M's history as an athletic program and even moreso as a well-known, well-branded first class research university.

Let's go back to the point about critical decisions and its long-lasting effects and let's bring this back down to sports analogies. What if the Portland Trail Blazers had drafted Micheal Jordan in the 1984 NBA Draft instead of Kentucky post Sam Bowie? Maybe the Chicago Bulls are still considered one of the worst franchises in league, which they were back in the early 1980's. What if the Oakland Raiders had drafted Tom Brady in the fifth round instead of the Patriots in the sixth round of the 1999 NFL Draft? Maybe Al Davis is considered the greatest owner in the history of sport, instead of the owner that grew senile and ruined his franchise's valuable brand from the 1970's and 1980's. What if the Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian had not overruled the Colts' scouting system and selected Ryan Leaf over Peyton Manning in the 1998 NFL Draft? Maybe…no…certainly, the Colts would be the NFL's worst franchise right now. It all comes down to a few critical decisions, and it can change the direction of an organization for decades if not longer.

You can do this Monday morning retrospective with what has happened to Texas A&M over the past two years that has led to where we are today with a Top 10 ranking, a freshman Heisman Trophy candidate that is the toast of college football across the nation, and a university that is poised to make a run at the state's most prominent and branded athletic and academic programs in Texas.

Here are some what ifs to consider when you look back on the past two years….


1) What if Texas A&M's administration did not get involved with athletic issues and allowed athletic director Bill Byrne to negotiate on the university's behalf on conference realignment? Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

2) What if University of Texas president Bill Power had not said to Texas A&M president Bowen Loftin, "There's no need to bother you with the details. You will be taken care of" in regard to the Pac-16 deal that was brokered exclusively by Texas. Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

3) What if Bill Byrne had accepted an offer by Deloss Dodds to be a partner in what eventually turned out to be the Longhorn Network? Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

4) What if the programming director of the Longhorn Network had not gone on a local Austin sports radio show and brag about broadcasting high school games of Texas commitments. Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

5) What if Gene Stallings and Jim Wilson were not on the Texas A&M Board of Regents two years ago. Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

6) What if Mike Sherman had decided not to offer an under-sized and unconventional playmaking QB from Kerrville Tivy and he signed with Oregon? Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

7) What if all-time leading receiver (until this weekend) Jeff Fuller had a typical Jeff Fuller season in 2011? Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

8) What if Christine Michael had not fumbled in the second half of the Arkansas game when the Texas A&M offense was driving for the clinching touchdown in 2011? Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

9) What if Jeff Fuller didn't drop that game-ending pass in overtime against Kansas State? Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

10) What if Case McCoy had not scrambled for 25 yards in the final seconds of the A&M-Texas game at Kyle Field in November 2011? Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

11) What if Texas kicker Justin Tucker missed the pressure-packed 40-yard winning field goal with time expiring? Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

12) What if Johnny Manziel decided to pursue professional baseball after being the No. 2 QB coming out of spring football? Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

13) What if Johnny Manziel and his family decided not to hire an outside QB coach to work on his mechanics and delivery in the offseason? Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

14) What if Jameill Showers doesn't look flat and throw several interceptions in the critical second scrimmage of the fall camp? Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

15) What if Sean Porter and Jonathan Stewart doesn't blow up a 4th and inches in the fourth quarter against Ole Miss when a first down salts away the game for the Rebels? Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

16) What if Johnny Manziel doesn't throw a perfect over the shoulder pass to Ryan Swope in the corner of the end zone? Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

17) What if Toney Hurd doesn't step in front of that short Bret Wallace pass when the Rebels were driving for the winning score? Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

18) What if Dustin Harris doesn't make the biggest hit of his career when he stopped A.J. McCarron at the A&M two-yard line on Saturday? Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

19) What if Deshazor Everett doesn't cut in front of an Alabama receiver and intercept the ball at the goal line? Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

20) What if the Alabama lineman doesn't jump offsides on the last punt of the game? Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…

21) What if Texas A&M had hired Larry Fedora instead of Kevin Sumlin? Would the Aggies be a Top 10 member of the SEC right now. No…


Realistically, if any of those 21 scenarios had not happened, the Texas A&M program would not be in this spot today ranked and coming off one of the greatest victories in school history. The fragile fact to digest is that if Texas A&M is not in the SEC, Kevin Sumlin is not the head coach at Texas A&M, or if Johnny Manziel is not the starting quarterback for the Aggies, the fortunes of this football program and this university could be on a completely different path.

The moral of this story….changing the trajectory of a major college football program is extremely hard to do and the decisions to support such a change are fragile and very hard to identify. In short, it's a perfect storm of events that's a mixture of shrewd strategic moves and seemingly insignificant or outside outcomes. It's part smarts and part luck coming together for a once in a lifetime shift.

Celebrate Aggies. The perfect storm of events came together over the past two years to position the university to make a permanent shift in the state's hierarchy of college football programs and move Texas A&M football into the high rent district of college football. Now, it's time to make sure that shift isn't reversed. That means locking up Kevin Sumlin to a long-term contract and treating him like a king. It means locking up the assistant coaches and paying them top market salaries. It also means making a smart strategic decision on the new state-of-the-art Kyle Field.

In my best Gordon Gekko voice, "Get to work…"

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