Saturday, January 31, 2015

A Recent Meeting Of College Football Donors

This video is rumored to have been smuggled out of the meeting in the dead of night and put on the interwebs for all to see.

The 12th Fan has not been able to confirm the rumor, and we can't vouch for the sobriety of the translator. But we think it's worth a grin or two.

- JP

Friday, January 30, 2015

Sumlin NSD Press Conference Set For Wednesday

It's been a while since Coach Sumlin met with reporters and fielded their questions. There's a good reason for this. He and his assistant coaches have been extremely busy during recruiting season. Its three weeks of a nomadic existence spent mostly in the air and on the highway, once described by Steve Spurrier, Jr. as a little bit of "organized chaos."

Relief from all the takeoffs, landings, hotel rooms and restaurant food will come February 4 on National Signing Day. But not until the media has a chance to catch up with the coach, according to the Houston Chronicle's Brent Zwerneman:

Sumlin NSD Presser photo sumlin-nsd-presser_zps6a345ac4.png

It's going to be Must-SEC TV, but that network will have Finebaum on, not Coach. You can listen to the presser on The Zone Sports Radio.

- JP

Updated: Boyd And Hill Will Be Horns

Via Twitter, Kris Boyd has announced when he will announce:

Boyd Announce Time photo boyd-announce-time_zps7780147e_1.png

The four-star cornerback from Gilmer has narrowed his choice down to Texas A&M and Texas. Sound familiar?

Update: Horns fans seem confident that Boyd will make his announcement in Austin. Stay tuned...

Update: Another four-star corner, Holton Hill from Houston Lamar, will make his announcement at the same time:

Hill Announcement Time photo hill-announcement-time_zpsada1af62.png

Update: As expected, both cornerbacks will sign with the Longhorns Wednesday. See here and here.

- JP

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Kyler Murray Will Follow His Heart To Aggieland

The five-star recruit tweeted late Thursday night:

Kyler's Heart photo kyler-heart_zps36be2067_1.png

Mike Farrell called it correctly, as The 12th Fan reported this morning,

Welcome to Aggieland, young man.

Update: Now the question becomes:

Sumlin Murray Who's Next photo sumlin-murray-whos-next_zps2c67b49d_1.png

- JP

Farrell Source: Kyler Murray Will Stick With the Aggies

As the National Recruiting Director for Rivals.com, we expect Mike Farrell's sources to be pretty solid. When Mike tweets about a recruit's intentions, his probability of being correct should be as good as anyone else in the business. So this should offer some encouragement, if not peace of mind, to Aggie football fans obsessed with the recruiting wars:

Farrell Murray photo farrell-murray_zps76130d59_1.png

A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin is expected to come calling on Murray today .

The standard disclaimer for recruiting applies, because some 18-year-olds really enjoy playing this game. Don't be too harsh with them. This is the last fun they're going to have once they're enrolled and their collegcoaches begin to put them through spring drills.

- JP

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Maroon Rising

Kyle Allen 1 photo kyle-allen-1_zpscee45dac_1.jpg
ICYMI, earlier this month Athlon Sports' Steven Lassan named the Texas Aggies one of College Football's Top Five Teams on the Rise for 2015. Although Kevin Sumlin's program recorded fewer wins in each consecutive season since he became head coach in 2012, Lassan cites the recent upgrading of the coaching staff as just one indicator that A&M will reverse that trend starting this year:

Since joining the SEC, Texas A&M has struggled mightily on defense and needs to fix that group to contend in the division. The Aggies took a big step forward on defense with the addition of veteran coordinator John Chavis. “The Chief” engineered some of the SEC’s top defenses in his tenure at LSU, and his experience in developing talent should pay dividends for Texas A&M with a front seven that’s littered with youth. In the first season without Johnny Manziel, the Aggies averaged 35.2 points per game. That number could climb in 2015 with Kyle Allen’s development at quarterback, as well as the return of a talented receiving corps featuring Speedy Noil, Josh Reynolds and Ricky Seals-Jones. With another top 10 recruiting class headed to College Station, the talent level and depth at Texas A&M is only going to get better.

Lassan lists two other SEC programs -- Arkansas and Kentucky -- as two of the eight teams on the rise in "the next tier" down.

- JP

Monday, January 26, 2015

Aggie DE Myles Garrett to Have Surgery Tuesday

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Myles Garrett, the Aggies' 2014 defensive MVP, revealed Monday night that he is scheduled for surgery on his hand and wrist Tuesday.

Despite the injury, Garrett played in Texas A&M's remaining games, except for the contest against Missouri, which he missed with another, unrelated injury, the nature of which the program never officially specified. ESPN has characterized that second wound as a concussion.

The injury to the All-American defensive standout's hand hasn't slowed him down or held him down. "Superman" recorded some impressive numbers recently:

Garrett ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash while recording a vertical jump of over 40 inches.Those are incredible numbers for a wide receiver but Garrett is a 6-foot-4, 260-pound defensive end.

[...}

Also last week, at the Texas A&M Rec Center, Garrett showed off that vertical jump on the basketball court with an impressive dunk.

Boom!

Tuesday's medical procedure shouldn't sideline the the 19-year-old's sophomore season:

It’s unknown whether Garrett will be limited in spring drills in a couple of months, but he’s expected to be fully recovered from the surgery in time for camp in August.

The Aggies, 8-5 last season with a Liberty Bowl victory over West Virginia, open up their fourth season under coach Kevin Sumlin on Sept. 5 against Arizona State in NRG Stadium, in the Texas Kickoff. Garrett & Co. will be under the direction of a new defensive coordinator as Sumlin has hired John Chavis, who had served in the same role at LSU the previous six seasons.

In addition to being named the Aggie Defense's Most Valuable Player in 2014, Garret was honored with a number of accolades:

He shattered Jadeveon Clowney's SEC freshman sack record (eight) with 11 of his own. He earned All-SEC second-team honors, an All-SEC freshman team nod, was named the Aggies' defensive MVP and is a member of ESPN.com's Freshman All-America team.

The standout defensive end made the disclosure on Twitter:

Garrett Surgery photo garrett-surgery_zpsd8e97006_1.png

Prayers up for one of the good guys.

Update: Apparently the surgery went well.

- JP

Saturday, January 24, 2015

'If you have two quarterbacks, you don't have any'

The title of this post is a quotation from Jess Neely, a Southwest Conference legend who coached at Rice University from 1940 to 1966. Lest anyone doubt those words of wisdom from Ol' Jess, it was a former third-string quarterback who led Ohio State to a national championship less than two weeks ago. One week earlier, that sophomore had directed State to a 42-35 upset of vaunted Alabama in the semifinals.

It is unfortunate, but bad things can happen to the best of QBs and sometimes do. So coaches better have not just a Plan B in place, but a plan C as well. Urban Meyer is from the Jess Neely School of Being Prepared, and it payed off for his Buckeyes in the best way possible. It was a preseason practice injury which sidelined legitimate Heisman candidate Braxton Miller and a season-ending broken ankle that took out Miller's backup, J.T. Barrett. Such a run of bad luck would have derailed many a head coach's dreams, but Meyer had money in the Contingency Bank. Meyer simply made another withdrawal, plugged Jones in at quarterback and beat down the formidable powerhouses that Saban and Helfrich had built at Bama and Oregon, respectively. Banking against uncertainty helped Ohio State win ultimate college football bragging rights for the next year and the trophy that goes along with all the hoopla.

Texas A&M is also blessed with some smart football coaches. While The 12th Fan may not agree with every offensive play called by OC Jake Spavital, there's no denying that he has a shrewd offensive mind, if not one of pure genius. And Head Coach Kevin Sumlin is very rarely wrong in his strategic thinking. He has worked out a long term plan to improve TAMU football so successful that it may have even worked a little too well. While all the pundits had predicted that the Aggies' SEC debut year would leave A&M as the conference doormat, the coach and his team had them all eating crow after ringing up a 10-2 record and a 41-13 trouncing of Oklahoma in the 2012 Cotton Bowl. And along the way, they rolled Saban's Crimson Tide team 29-24, the only loss Bama would suffer in an otherwise perfect National Championship season. The downside of the surprise Aggie season was that it raised expectations through the roof to the point where 2013 and 2014 -- though winning years in which TAMU also won bowl games -- disappointed many who had visions of bigger and better outcomes dancing in their heads. Yes, your honor, The 12th Fan pleads guilty as well.

Which leaves us in anticipation of the 2015 season, with its favorable schedule, upgraded coaching staff and even more impressive -- though still young -- talent on the field for the Ags. But there is uncertainty over the depth Texas A&M will have at the quarterback position. Now that Kenny Hill has departed, it would be prudent for the Aggies to have a backup quarterback with some playing experience beyond the high school level. Regardless of how the current running drama of recruiting 18-year-olds unfolds, we're pretty sure our offensive coaching council is following the wisdom of Jess Neely and has mapped out the trail to success taken by Urban Meyer with a plan to have an inventory of good quarterbacks at the ready just in case. God forbid that anything should happen to Kyle Allen, but Conner McQueen shouldn't have to bear the backup burden alone.

Jake Hubenak photo jake-hubenak_zps802115a0-1.jpg

We're also confident that Coaches Sumlin and Spavital have taken notice of a football phenomenon who racked up some jaw-dropping numbers playing high school ball at Georgetown SHS, where he helped lead the Eagles to the 2012 state finals, earning the honors of Texas Class 4A player of the year, Cen-Tex player of the year and District 17-4A Most Valuable Player.

Despite racking up a 19-1 high school record as a starter, Hubenak did not get any respect and received not a single major college scholarship offer. So he went where he thought he might have the best chance of getting some playing time as a walk-on -- to Oklahoma State. But OSU coach Mike Grundy didn't take Jess Neely's advice to heart, and the coach found his program on thin ice when starting QB Mike Lunt suddenly left Stillwater, eventually ending up at Illinois. Grundy had not recruited at quarterback for the 2012 or 2013 seasons, so Hubenak figured he'd have at least a shot at playing for the Cowboys. Instead, OSU made him a redshirt. In search of the chance to get on the field and play some football for a change, Hubenak looked around, bid a farewell to OSU, and headed for Blinn College.

After enrolling at Blinn, Hubenak was rewarded with the playing time he had longed for, and he made the most of his opportunity. The statistics he's compiled at the junior college level are even more impressive than those he amassed while playing high school ball in Georgetown. Now, at long last, he has the attention of the major college football programs that had previously ignored him. San Diego State has already made an offer to Hubenak, and the number of other programs interested in him is growing. So far, LSU, Texas, Georgia, New Mexico, and North Texas are said to have eyes on him.

Again, Kevin Sumlin and every coach on his staff is much smarter and has far better insights into college football than The 12th Fan or any other fan, for that matter. That's why he coaches the Aggies, and we can only watch them and cheer them on. Blinn's main campus is in Brenham, just 40 miles down Farm to Market Road 50 from College Station. As smart as the Aggie Fooball Coaching brain trust is, here's hoping they prevent a real diamond in the junior college rough here in our own back yard from slipping away to the competition. Jess Neely would approve of that kind of defensive move.

- JP

Friday, January 23, 2015

Men At Work

Chavis Martin Joseph photo chavis-martin-joseph_zps270d6e12-1.png

According to Brian Perroni, the Aggies have has made Martin a priority target. Why? Because MOAR cornerbacks!

Recruiting site Scout.com rates Martin as the top juco cornerback in the country and has him on Flip Watch:

Given his length and straight-line speed that both fit perfectly to stay on the island, teams are not going to take no for an answer with the former Overton (Tenn.) High School standout. Coaches all over seek the next version of Richard Sherman or Aqib Talib. As Scout’s No. 1-rated junior college corner in the country with three years of eligibility, Martin is extremely attractive.

- JP

Kyler Murray says he’s 'still committed to A&M'

Kyler Murray KBTX photo kyler-murray-kbtx_zps7f91192b-1.jpg

At a Dallas awards banquet Thursday, Allen quarterback Kyler Murray told Dallas Morning News sports writer Greg Riddle that he is still committed to play football for Texas A&M. Murray, who was also named Texas Player of the Year by the Associated Press, was honored at the reception as the Morning News/SportsDayHS Offensive Player of the Year. The Eagles' field general never lost a game as a starting quarterback, finishing his high school playing career with a 43-0 record and three state titles.

Murray has committed to Texas A&M but caused a stir in recruiting circles Wednesday by taking an unofficial visit to Texas and tweeting a photo of a UT jersey that had the number he wore at Allen. On Thursday, he was wearing an orange tie, but he said it’s not a sign of anything.

“It goes with brown,” he said.

Murray said that at this point, he’s “still committed to A&M.”

[...]

Another Texas A&M pledge was honored Thursday as Ennis defensive lineman James Lockhart was named SportsDay’s Defensive Player of the Year.

The state’s 19th-ranked recruit had 10 sacks, 16 quarterback pressures and 140 tackles as a senior to help Ennis win the 5A Division II state title.

With national signing day coming up Feb. 4, Lockhart said, “I was kind of looking at TCU just a little bit,” but then quickly added, “I’m going to stick with Texas A&M.”

Lockhart was asked if he had discussed Murray's intentions about the quarterback's commitment to the Aggies. “This is to any recruit: Go to the school that makes you happy. But I hope A&M is still in our favor,” he replied.

- JP

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Meet the Newest Texas Aggie Footballers

It's official. Seven new members of the Texas A&M football team have enrolled at the university and are attending classes. They include two wide receivers, a tight end, an offensive lineman, two linebackers and a safety. Four were early high school grads and three come from the junior college ranks.

The Battalion has helpfully organized them in an easy to digest chart:

Early Enrollees Jan 2015 photo earlyenrollees_zps8b32217b-1.jpg

Good Bull Hunting provides a more detailed look at each player, and The Eagle's Robert Cessna summarized some of their playing statistics here

The future of A&M football is looking better already, and it will look even brighter come National Signing Day February 4, when another 16 or so high school recruits will make their intentions to come to Texas A&M official.

Welcome to Aggieland, guys!

- JP

Welcome to Aggieland, Coach Aaron Moorehead

The Texas Aggies are fighting the recruiting war with a more formidable army as of today:

AMO First Aggie Tweet photo amo-first-aggie-tweet_zpsd20cf504.png

Follow Texas A&M's Wide Receiver Coach on Twitter.

- JP

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Aggies Hire Aaron Moorehead to Coach Receivers

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Kevin Sumlin has hired Aaron Moorehead, who was coaching Wide Receivers at Virginia Tech, to fill the same posiition on his Texas A&M staff. TexAgs' Billy Liucci broke the story early Sunday Afternoon.

Sumlin doesn't hire assistant coaches who who aren't accomplished recruiters. Moorehead fits the profile:

"Buzz: In a year where Virginia Tech landed only two of the top 10 players in the state of Virginia, that was less of an issue because of the efforts of Moorehead out of state. Moorehead secured the Hokies' lone Rivals250 commitment in linebacker Melvin Keihn, as well as another four-star Maryland product, Cameron Phillips, to address a big need at wide receiver. Both have strong chances to help immediately. Moorehead also played a big role in landing the Signing Day addition of three-star wide receiver Isaiah Ford, whom he long coveted. He's set himself up well for recruiting in his areas in the next few years. He's made serious strides in his areas that VT hadn't before."

This hire give Texas A&M football recruiting connections in places where the program has never had a footprint before, including the Washington, DC area (especially Maryland and Virginia), Indianapolis, Indiana and suburban Chicago, Illinois.

Moorehead's resume is not a very long one, but the highlights are quite impressive:

  • Interned as a GA at New Mexico for a year 
  • Assistant WR coach at Stanford for 3 years 
  • WR coach at Virginia Tech for 2 years 
  • Coached in a major bowl game 4 times in 5 years 
  • Played in 2 bowl games, 4 NFL playoff games, and a Super Bowl

How was Coach Sumlin able to entice Aaron Moorehead to leave Blacksburg for College Station? Apparently, it didn't take much persuading. According to Joe Lanza, editor of Hokie blog The Key Play, the now former VT assistant was underpaid:

According to a report from David Teel, Moorehead received a recent bump in base salary from $175,000 in 2014 to $185,500 in 2015. However, Moorehead's base salary in 2015 would have been the lowest among Tech's assistant coaches by $67,310. According to the USA TODAY's NCAA staff salary database, Virginia Tech ranked ninth in 2014 for staff pay total ($3,583,250). However, Bud Foster's $800,000 annuity inflated that number. Without it, Tech would have been 28th overall.

[...]

The fact of the matter is, Moorehead's time in Blacksburg has been worth every penny and more. Tech's now tasked to replace one of its best position coaches and top recruiters less than 3 weeks before national signing day. He squeezed 40-plus catch seasons out of Joshua Stanford, Willie Byrn and Demitri Knowles in 2013. He chopped wood on the recruiting trail and helped Tech sign stud receivers Isaiah Ford and Cam Phillips, among other players, on national signing day last February before coaching Ford, Phillips and Byrn to 40-plus receptions this past season.

Texas A&M has been without a WR coach since David Beaty, who also served as recruiting coordinator, left to become the head coach at Kansas December 5. Sumlin has not yet named a new recruiting coordinator.

Related: YouTube collection of Moorehead pressers, interviews, and an amazing catch for a TD here.

Update: Word is that Aaron Moorehead is in College Station and has been given a tour of the Bright Football Complex (unconfirmed). Meanwhile, Hokie fans are not pleased that they're losing this guy. Who could blame them?

- JP

Friday, January 16, 2015

Why Tweeting to Recruits Is a Bad Idea

The NCAA, on the definition and role of boosters:

Boosters play a role in providing student-athletes with a positive experience through their enthusiastic efforts. They can support teams and athletics departments through donations of time and financial resources which help student-athletes succeed on and off the playing field.Boosters, referred to by the NCAA as "representatives of the institution's athletic interests," include anyone who has:

  • Provided a donation in order to obtain season tickets for any sport at the university. 
  • Participated in or has been a member of an organization promoting the university's athletics programs. 
  • Made financial contributions to the athletic department or to a university booster organization. Arranged for or provided employment for enrolled student-athletes. 
  • Assisted or has been requested by university staff to assist in the recruitment of prospective student-athletes. 
  • Assisted in providing benefits to enrolled student athletes or their families. Been involved otherwise in promoting university athletics. 

Once an individual is identified as a "representative of the institution's athletics interests," the person retains that identity forever.Only institutional staff members are permitted to recruit prospective student-athletes. Generally, NCAA rules prohibit anyone else from contacting (calling, writing or in-person contact) prospects or the prospect's relatives or guardian for recruiting purposes.

So technically, anyone who has made a donation to to a school's athletic department and tweets a recruit urging him to sign with that school is in violation of NCAA rules. Thought of this when I noticed that Horn fans were all over Twitter Thursday tweeting at prospective Aggie recruits, dissing TAMU and urging the croots to choose t.u. instead. Here's just one example (names and handles hidden to protect both the guilty and the innocent):

Sip Tweet photo sip-tweet_zps70f56b42.png

Of course the NCAA isn't even going to notice a lot of this, but social media is adding a whole new dimension to the recruiting game. I can even imagine a scenario in the not too distant future where a big donor to School A gets liquored up and tweets at a recruit urging him to sign with School A. Someone from school B -- one of School A's major rivals -- sees the tweet and knows the guy is a booster. He then rats the donor out to the NCAA, furnishing "8X10 color glossy pictures [of screenshots] with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as evidence" against them. (Arlo Guthrie "Alice's Restaurant" reference for the old folks)

Bottom line, don't tweet to recruits. It won't help your school's program and could even hurt it. Besides, even when when it's done with the best of intentions, it's just creepy.

- JP

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

And LSU replaces Chief with... Kevin Steele?

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Yes indeed. Two big black marks on Steele's resume:

1. He was ushered out the door at Clemson three years ago:

The decision followed one of the program's worst defensive performances, as Clemson suffered an embarrassing 70-33 loss to West Virginia in the Discover Orange Bowl. The 70 points were the most points scored by a team in any bowl game.

2. He chose poorly in what ESPN called one of the ten worst coaching decisions ever made:

Baylor had UNLV beat -- they led 24-21 with about 20 seconds left in the Sept. 11, 1999 matchup between two lousy teams. The Bears had the ball on the Rebels eight-yard line, and if they had taken a knee, the game would have been over. Instead, Baylor head coach Kevin Steele called for a run. Darrell Bush almost made it to the goal line, but UNLV forced a fumble, and the Rebels' Kevin Thomas returned it 99 yards for a touchdown.

"I have an explanation, but it doesn't hold water," Steele said after the game. "We talked about creating an attitude and getting after people. We were simply trying to create an attitude."

UNLV won the game 27-24, as Steele snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Baylor fired him in 2002 after four losing seasons.

This is the coach LSU has chosen to replace John Chavis as defensive coordinator. But in truth, it would require one of the best defensive coaches in the nation to fill Chief's shoes in Tigerland. In the grand scheme of things, Kevin Steele is not a bad coach, just one who -- like most of his colleagues -- has made a bad call every now and then. He is said to be a good recruiter, but whatever Steele's other positive attributes may be, he's not among that elite few.

The Tiger faithful had been hoping for a blockbuster hire, as names like Ed Orgeron and Bob Shoop were being tossed around. But the response to the hiring of Steele has been underwhelming, to put it nicely. And so on message boards across Tiger Nation, LSU fans are beginning to eat crow for some of the unbelievably nasty things they were saying about John Chavis after Kevin Sumin stole their ace defensive genius. Before that happened, he was being lauded as the force that kept the Tigers in some games in which the offense had underperformed.

Couldn't happen to a nice bunch. Love 'em. Mean it.

- JP

Friday, January 9, 2015

Sumlin: Chavis Hire Represents a 'Philosophical Change' for Aggie Fooball

Coach Sumlin called in to Lance Zierlein and Adam Clanton of The Proper Gentlemen morning show on Houston's SportsTalk790 Friday. In the interview, the Texas A&M head Football Coach discussed the changes he is implementing during the off-season with the talk show hosts. One aspect of the tweaking of his program will involve looking for "different body types" in the defensive players the Aggies will recruit:

Coach Sumlin also said that although most of his players are away from College Station at home with their families during the semester break, he has received numerous texts and phone calls from his players who are "excited" that John Chavis is now the A&M defensive coordinator, and they "can't wait" to get back to Aggieland to meet the Chief.

For the first time, the Aggie coach talked about Kenny Hill's pending transfer to TCU as well as the coming and going of position coaches on his staff. Other topics covered in the interview included the logistics of balancing the demands of his job with family life, the Pool Boy incident and Monday night's showdown between Oregon and Ohio State in the national title game.

Update: Sumlin has been making the rounds of radio talk shows this week. He was interviewed by Gavin & Chris on Dallas station 105.3 The Fan today (Listen here). Earlier in the week he talked with ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike. The podcast of that interview can be heard here.

- JP

Fare Thee Well, Kenny Hill

Kenny Hill photo kenny-hill_zpsae772f1e.jpg
Texas A&M backup quarterback Kenny Hill has been granted the release he requested from Texas A&M, and the junior will reportedly transfer. TCU is mentioned most often as the school where he will land:

Hill was a backup to former Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel as a freshman and battled five star freshman Kyle Allen during the spring and summer of 2014 to see who would succeed him. Hill won the starting job and proceeded to throw for a school record 554 yards as the Aggies upset top ten South Carolina on the road. A&M began the season 5-0 and Hill was mentioned as a top contender for the Heisman Trophy. However, the Aggies lost three straight games in the middle of the season and Hill had seven turnovers in the losses which culminated in a 59-0 defeat to Alabama.

Hill was subsequently suspended for two games prior to the Louisiana Monroe game for violations of team rules which came on top of a suspension during spring practice for an off the field incident which resulted in an arrest. Allen took over the starting job and helped the Aggies to an upset of top ten Auburn on the road while Hill never played another down the remainder of the season.

Rumors that Hill would transfer had been circulating around Aggieland since early November when his suspension was announced. Around midnight last night, ESPN's Travis Haney tweeted that Hill had asked for his release from TAMU and was expected to transfer. However, it was already known -- though not widely known -- that the requested release had been been granted. That nugget was tucked away in yesterday's column by Roy Bragg of the San Antonio Express-News. You had to scroll all the way down to the very last sentence to find it, though, in what has to be the most extreme example of what journalists like to call "burying the lede."

A member who read the column posted the information on 247 Sports' Junction forum, and The 12th Fan tweeted a link to the Bragg column at about the same time. Meanwhile, the 247 Sports staff was busy contacting their sources and not only got confirmation that Kenny Hill had been given his release and intended to transfer, but they also learned that the soph QB's likely destination would be Fort Worth. And so we have the curious genesis of a rather important sports story. It is becoming more common these days for sports boards to break news, or when someone in the dead tree media drops the ball, to scoop it up and run with it.

The 12th Fan wishes young Kenny Hill well, wherever he decides to continue his college career. TCU is mentioned most often because the situation there seems tailor-made for him. While Hill would be sitting out the NCAA-mandated season, quarterback Trevone Boykin will be completing his senior year, so Kenny should be first in line to tryout for the starting job in 2016. Fort Worth is also not far from Southlake where Kenny's dad lives, so here's hoping that being in closer proximity to family, friends and familiar places will provide an environment in which he can grow as a quarterback and a young man while finding some peace of mind at the same time. Fare thee well, Kenny Hill.

Update: Now Kenny Hill's dad tells Fox Sports that reports saying his son is committed to TCU (or any school) are "simply inaccurate." More drama to come...

- JP

Thursday, January 8, 2015

How John Chavis will bring back the Wrecking Crew

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At Good Bull Hunting, Matt Bohmfalk takes a good look at John Chavis' defensive philosophy and the Xs, Os and arrows of it that the new A&M DC will implement to fix the broken Aggie defense. Here's an excerpt:

A big part of what his job will be at Texas A&M is finding out what tweaks he needs to make based on the personnel he inherits and then recruits. Bar none, his most talented weapon is sophomore-to-be Myles Garrett, a defensive end who set the SEC freshman record for sacks in 2014 with 11.5. Chavis will no doubt be looking for ways to get Garrett into one on one match-ups to take advantage of his pass rush skills.

Another advantage for the Aggies as far as this transition is concerned comes from the fact that Chavis is already familiar with all of the divisional opponents A&M will face each year since he coached in the same division. So while there were highs and lows for the Tigers (Mississippi State and Auburn both had big days against the LSU defense during the first half of the season, but not one of LSU's final six regular season opponents gained over 325 yards), Chavis will be able to look at what worked and what didn't, combined with what strengths and weaknesses there were between 2014 LSU and 2015 Texas A&M and scheme accordingly, knowing exactly what he's up against, having played the same teams each year.

Even if you're not a football geek, this is fascinating stuff and well worth any true Aggie football fan's time to read and digest. Broken components of a team's strategy don't just fix themselves. The weak A&M defense of the past few seasons has been the subject of endless talk. With this information in hand, the next time you argue football with your friends from other SEC schools or the commie clown college up on the hill, you can insist with confidence that the A&M D will get better on the order of several magnitudes. When they mockingly retort, "Oh yeah? How's that gonna happen," you can 'splain it to them. Most likely they won't have a comeback.

Related - Film Study: Chavis to A&M is a game changer of epic proportions

- JP

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sumlin on MIke & Mike Wednesday AM

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The Aggie Head Football Coach will be the guest of Mike & Mike on their morning show Wednesday at 8AM Central Time. Tune in to ESPN2 to watch or ESPN Radio to listen.

Update: ICYMI, audio of the full interview is available here.

h/t: TexAgs.com

- JP

Texas A&M announces Christensen as OL Coach, Run Game Coordinator

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What has been common knowledge in the Aggie sports community became official Tuesday, as the hiring of Dave Christensen was announced by the Texas A&M Athletic Department in a press release:

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Former head coach and longtime offensive coordinator Dave Christensen will coach the Texas A&M offensive line and oversee the running game in 2015, Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin announced Tuesday.

Terms of Christensen’s contract are pending approval by The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents at a future meeting.

A veteran of 30 seasons as a collegiate coach, Christensen comes to Texas A&M from the University of Utah, where he helped the Utes to a 9-4 record and a bowl win in his lone season in Salt Lake City. Previously, Christensen was the head coach at the University of Wyoming from 2009-13 and also a longtime offensive assistant under Gary Pinkel at Missouri and Toledo.

“We are fortunate to have Dave join our staff,” said Sumlin, “as he not only brings a wealth of experience and coaching acumen, but also a relentless approach that will benefit our offensive line and running game and carry over to the entire team. I know Dave is excited to get started, and we welcome him to Aggieland."

Serving as Utah’s offensive coordinator and tight ends coach, Christensen helped the Utes to a four-win improvement while orchestrating a balanced offensive attack that averaged more than 190 rushing and passing yards per game.

From 2009-13, Christensen was the head coach at Wyoming where he compiled a 27-35 record in five seasons. In 2009, Christensen became the first Cowboy head coach to win a bowl game in his debut season when he led Wyoming to a 35-28 win over Fresno State in the New Mexico Bowl. Two years later, Christensen was named the 2011 Mountain West Coach of the Year after the Cowboys compiled an 8-5 overall record, including a 5-2 record against MWC opponents.

He became a head coach after serving 17 years as an assistant for Pinkel at Toledo (1992-2000) and Missouri (2001-08). Christensen coached the offensive line at both schools and was the offensive coordinator from 1997-2008, including his entire stay at Missouri.

Christensen devised and implemented one of college football's most exciting no-huddle, spread offenses at Mizzou, where he was named the 2007 National Offensive Coordinator of the Year by Rivals.com and was runner-up for the 2007 Frank Broyles Award, honoring the nation's top assistant coach. Missouri played in the Big 12 Championship game in both 2007 and 2008 as the champion of the Big 12 North.

Missouri finished the 2007 season with a No. 4 Associated Press ranking and Christensen's offense ranked No. 5 in the nation in total offense (490.3 yards per game), No. 8 in scoring offense (39.9) and No. 9 in passing offense (314.1).

Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 2007, when Christensen's offense scored a school-record 558 points, far surpassing the previous Missouri single-season record of 399 points. Also that season, tight end Martin Rucker and freshman wide receiver Jeremy Maclin were consensus first-team All-America selections, marking the first time Missouri had two consensus in the same season. Senior center Adam Spieker was named a finalist for the Rimington Award, which honors the nation's best center.

In 2008, the Tigers finished fourth in the nation in passing offense (330.4 yards per game), No. 6 in scoring offense (42.2) and No. 8 in total offense (484.1). That season, the Tigers again had two consensus first-team All-Americans in Maclin and tight end Chase Coffman. Coffman also won the 2008 John Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end, while Maclin was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, which honors the nation's top wide receiver.

The Tigers were nationally ranked offensively throughout Christensen's tenure as the offensive coordinator, which followed a successful stint at Toledo. During his nine years as a Toledo assistant (the last four as the offensive coordinator), the Rockets set numerous school records on offense while winning one Mid-American Conference championship and two MAC West titles (tying for another).

Christensen also served assistant coaching stints at Western Washington (1983), Eastern Washington (1986-87), Washington (1988-89, graduate assistant) and Idaho State (1990-91).

More from "The Dave Christensen File" here. Rest easy Ags. The announcement makes it real, but if anyone needs further confirmation, the new OL Coach/Run Game Coordinator's photo has been added to the Texas A&M Football Coaching Staff gallery.

- JP

Uncle Mo: A&M could be SEC West sleeping giant entering 2015

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Saturday Down South's Uncle Mo (aka Ethan Levine) has the Aggies in first place in his end-of-the-season momentum rankings:
A&M has won at least eight games for three straight years since joining the SEC, and next year it returns two touted quarterbacks with starting experience (and) three of its top four wideouts. It will also bring in a handful of five-star recruits and John Chavis as defensive coordinator. Texas A&M has a lot going its way and a lot of explosive depth at key positions.
From Uncle Mo's keyboard to The Good Lord's eyes... - JP

Monday, January 5, 2015

Saving Face in Bayou Country

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WAFB-TV's Jacques Doucet has written an opinion piece titled An honest relection the John Chavis years at LSU.

While Doucet doesn't tell any overt lies, what he chooses to omit is certainly interesting. Granted, lies of omission are just tools of the trade in op-ed writing, where obfuscation is often employed to make an argument seem convincing. That's they way those little white lies are. We've all been guilty on this score. What Doucet does not mention in his piece, for example, is that in 2014, LSU finished 77th in the FBS in total offense and tied for 73rd in scoring offense, averaging just 27.6 points per game. Contrast these numbers with Texas A&M's 35.2 points per game (good for 26th place in the FBS) and a 30th place finish in total offense.

To Doucet's credit, he does admit that the LSU offense has become stale, but by implication maintains that the Tiger defense has likewise atrophied. The blame for the state of college football in Baton Rouge does not fall equally on the shoulders of the LSU O and D. Arguing that those responsible for running both sides of the Bayou Bengal's football program are equally to blame is tantamount to covering one's ears and shouting, "I cant hear you!" when someone points out that perhaps if the LSU offense had been able to spend a little more time on the field, Chavis' defense would not have been expected to save the Tigers' bacon.

Of course all of this fogging of the lens through which LSU football is viewed is little more than an exercise in face-saving for Tiger fans and those who write op-eds to try to soothe their hurt feelings. As a boy who was born and spent his early years in Louisiana before my dad (an LSU alumnus) moved the family to Houston in 1958, I remember that heady year well. It was the season that former LSU head coach Paul Dietzel led the Tigers to their first recognized national football championship. Three years later, after "Pepsodent Paul" left LSU to accept the head coaching job at Army, the shocked LSU faithful branded him a traitor on the same level previously reserved for such turncoats as Benedict Arnold. The passing of both the years and Dietzel himself have served to soothe the angry Tigers, and the legendary coach is viewed in a much more favorable light these days. The two-minute hate for head football coaches, it seems, is more of a two-year hate. Even rabid fans eventually get over such things.

So the face-saving we are seeing in Louisiana is nothing new. And it is hardly a phenomenon restricted to the purview of LSU football. Fans do it everywhere when they perceive that a coach has betrayed them or left them in a lurch. Aggie fans would do well not to take what their next door neighbors to the east are saying about the former LSU defensive coordinator at face value. With an offense that generates considerably more horsepower than that of his former team, John Chavis should do quite well in College Station. More importantly, he should be under much less pressure to help his team win. Unlike Obi-Wan Kenobi to the Rebel Scum, he is not the Aggies' only hope.

- JP

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Welcome to Aggieland, Chief

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On New Year's Day, Texas A&M head football coach Kevin Sumlin flew to Knoxville, TN in a chartered Cessna Citation bizjet to personally escort his pick for Aggie Defensive Coordinator to College Station.

While most everyone else in the sports journalism community were snug on their warm couches watching bowl games, at least a handful of enterprising scribes had positioned themselves at Easterwood Airport on the cool and soggy day to record the event. Most notable among them was Brent Zwerneman, who snapped photos and wrote the story for his Houston Chronicle blog. TexAgs also scored points for having the presence of mind to show up with a minicam to capture the raw video.

Can't think of a better way for Aggie Football to start the New Year.

- JP

Blogger Introduction: Who is The 12th Fan?

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It's common knowledge in the sports community who The 12th Man is, but who the heck is The 12th Fan? This essay traces the journey taken by your editor over many miles and many years to come to become an Aggie fan.

People who move around a lot have had a tendency to root for the home team after they've been in a town for a while. The 12th Fan was born in Louisiana and has ties to LSU on both sides of the family (Dad and maternal uncle were both LSU alums). For the first thirteen years of my life, I must have heard, "Geaux Tigers" thosands of times. LSU won a national football championship in 1958, but when it happened, I had been living in Texas for two months. If Dad had not accepted a job promotion and transfer to Houston in October of that year, we would have been in the thick of all the celebration. On frequent travels back to bayou country to visit family and friends, we were made to hear of the exploits of the Go Team, White Team. and Chinese Bandits. We would later be made aware of the LSU fans' sense of betrayal when Tigers head coach Paul Dietzel departed the Sportsman's Paradise to take the head coaching job at Army. My uncle and grandfather were not too broken up over it, but Dad's best friend Roy, like many LSU fans, took it as a personal insult.

Back home -- our new home -- in Texas, we were exposed to a whole new world of college football. Unlike the monoculture of Louisiana collegiate football, where LSU is the star and other college teams in the state merely bit players, the highly competitive environment of what was then the Southwest Conference in its heyday seemed invigorating to a 13-year-old who had never seen anything quite like it. One any Saturday night in the fall, I could dial acroos the AM band and hear broadcasts of every SWC game with a loud and clear city-grade signal. Just a walk down the street in our neighborhood would provide ample evidence of just how competitive was in Texas. A variety of window decals on cars parked in driveways represented Texas A&M and the rest of the SWC schools. Unlike in Louisiana, there were multiple major stars, but also an endless cast of lesser actors represented, mostly colleges named in honor of colorful heroes from Texas history books. Sam Houston State, Stephen F. Austin, and Sul Ross State were just a few of them. There was also the University of Houston.

The school that suffers the indignity of being called "Cougar High" would come to play an important role in my life. It was my dad, the LSU grad, who was the family member who became the biggest U of H fan. He was impressed by Bill Yeoman and his innovative and highly successful Veer offense. Yeoman did nothing less than revolutionize college football with that offense. Dad also respected Yeoman for leading another revolution. He was the first head coach of a major Texas football program to offer a scholarship to a black player, the speedy and elusive Warren McVea, who would become a two-time All American for the Cougars. Another factor that made my father a Houston fan was its golf team. The school had one of the most successful college golf programs around at the time. Golf was Dad's most beloved sport, and in the nine years he lived in Houston, the Cougars won the national collegiate golf championship seven times.

So it was pretty much preordained, mostly for financial reasons, that I would attend the University of Houston, which I did. One year I was a dorm rat, which gave me a unique opportunity to witness another slice of college sports history. Back in the day, colleges had both freshman teams and varsity teams. My year on campus happened to be the year that Elvin Hayes and Don Cheney made the UH freshman team one of the most entertaining shows in all of college basketball. It was a short walk from the dorm to the old Jeppesen Fieldhouse, and my two yankee roommates and I never missed a home game.

I should have spent less time being obsessed with sports and radio and more buried in the books. I started working at a local radio station and was seduced by the culture of broadcasting. After deciding that I didn't need a college degree to spin records and read news copy, academic pursuits fell by the wayside. After four years at the U of H, I had scarcely two and a half years worth of credit hours to show for it. But what does a 19-year-old care when he's doing cool stuff on the radio? Meanwhile, my dad had been transferred again by his employer, and my parents settled in the Boston Mountains of Northwest Arkansas. I bounced around the state of Texas, with brief forays into Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico in the radio business for a number of years. That was before the dread disease of cancer struck my family. It took my dad in the late 1970s and would make my mom ill some years later, finally claiming her life in the mid-1990s.

I had stayed in close proximity to my mother during her years of fighting the disease to help take care of her as her health deteriorated. While I was in the area, I figured that I might as well finish up my journalism degree as a "returning student." That's academia-speak meaning college dropouts who, after long hiatus, finally become mature enough to finish what they started. After earning a baccalaureate at the University of Arkansas, I got accepted into the MBA program with a dual concentration on MIS and Marketing. Academic pursuit while working alternately full time and part time at local radio stations seemed to demonstrate the maturity that was lacking in younger years. In the second year of grad school came an offer in the information technology field, and just like that I had a second career. At long last I could bid farewell to the narcissism of the first one.

As an Arkansas alumnus, I should have been a rabid Razorback fan for life. But ungrateful wretch that I am, I just couldn't do it, and for three main reasons. The first is location, location, location. As previously stated, many people tend to cheer for the college closest in proximity to where they live. For seven years now I've lived in the Brazos Valley, and over that span of time I've become an Aggie fan. I cheer them on, and I shout bad words at my flat screen sometimes when the game isn't going as well as I want it to go.

The second factor responsible for converting me to the cause of the maroon and white is tradition. No school is more wrapped up in tradition than Texas A&M. Although I was never a student here and did not have the privilege of experiencing them first hand, I admire and respect the TAMU traditions. They speak to something that endures in a world where most crave change, even if they haven't thought through the reasons for changing and whether changing something will necessarily make it better. The University of Houston, being a relatively young institution and a commuter school, is short on tradition. Arkansas is much better on that score, but its traditions pale in comparison to those of Texas A&M.

The final reason why I'm an Aggie fan and named this blog The 12th Fan can be traced directly to The 12th Man. Many fans of other schools who visit Aggieland have given testimony in praise of the friendly Aggies they meet and are impressed that they are treated with respect here. Most folks in Arkansas are friendly enough, but I have to admit that some of their fans are among the worst in all of college football fandom. No, they're not as mean-person-nasty as some of today's LSU fans, but there is a reason why I was never a true Razorback.

One incident may serve to help explain. After the 1981 upset of t.u. by the Hogs, a band of drunken thugs roamed around the Dickson Street area (Fayetteville's main drag), vandalizing cars which bore Texas license plates and even turned a couple of them over. Little did it matter if those cars belonged to Arkansas students from the state of Texas, the mob was going to celebrate! Yes, this is an extreme example, and no, most Arkansas fans are not violent goons. But a significant minority of their number is routinely rude to visiting fans, and they create a first impression that does not reflect well on the school or its football program.

For another example, look no further than the scandal following the outing of former head coach Bobby Petrino as a cheat and a liar. Even after it was disclosed that he used his influence to give his mistress, a well-paid athletic department intern, a $20,000 cash gift, a rather large chunk of the Razorback fan base argued on social media against his dismissal. Winning at all costs was more important to them than honesty and integrity. Much respect for A.D. Jeff Long, who withstood the heat from Petrino's proponents and summarily dismissed him.

Finally, consider the way the University of Arkansas treated the visiting Aggies at the 2013 game in Fayetteville. It was bad enough that Reveille was banned from Razorback Stadium due to U of A policy which does not allow live mascots on their home turf. But to add insult to injury, the Fighting Texas Aggie Band was refused permission to perform between halves. The Arkansas athletic people blamed their plans to honor a former player during that halftime, but... c'mon, man!

I can't even imagine Aggie fans trashing anyone else's personal property or trying to argue that a disgraced coach should not be fired immediately. Nor is it conceivable that the A&M athletic department would treat a visiting school's band in such a manner as to force it to cancel over 100 hotel rooms at the last hour. Such actions are not consistent with the Aggie tradition, nor with the spirit of fair and friendly competition in athletics.

As a disclaimer, I admit that I have an additional connection to Texas A&M. A sibling married into an Aggie family, and many years later her family has 'adopted' me. Before I ever considered moving to the Brazos Valley though, the idea that some day I might become an Aggie fan never crossed my mind. But Aggies have a way of winning people over, if given a chance -- not always at first, but certainly over time. Because there's a spirit...

So welcome to The 12th Fan blog. Pardon the long rant, but as you read the (much sorter) posts which will follow this one, at least you'll know where the editor is coming from. That's more than most bloggers will reveal about themselves. Now Geaux Aggies! Gig'em, and let's barbecue some Hogs.

Editors Note: This article originally appeared in unedited form as a fan post at Good Bull Hunting.

- JP