There’s a dense blanket of fog pressing down on Texas this morning. Settled into the lowlands and furring the edges of our consciousness with a dull, dismal malaise as we trudge into work this Monday. It’s old hat for us Aggies: the bitter disappointment, the helpless frustration, and finally the resignation that each year seems to take root sooner and deeper than the one before.
In August, no one was mentioning Texas A&M and playoffs in the same breath. Three months later, there we were: 7-1 with Alabama out of the way and in complete control of our own destiny. No coach has brought such high spirits to this fanbase, and no coach has let them get crushed with such sudden cruelty as Kevin Sumlin. There’s no doubt that Sumlin knows how to build a program. He knows how to recruit, to say the right things, and to put the right pieces in place in order to succeed. It’s that last hurdle, the actual forging of a tough football team with a killer instinct, that has eluded him.
His seat temperature has fluctuated as drastically as the program’s perception over the past twelve months. He’s meticulously built up reserves of good faith only to have them rapidly depleted with a pair of inexplicable losses to unranked opponents. For all the bells and whistles and the fantastic 7-1 start, it looks for all the world like he’s on pace for another 8-4 season.
The only thing that can redeem him is a win over LSU.
The Tigers are the only SEC West foe he’s never defeated. They’re a program in transition as well, and they’ll come into Kyle Field coming off a short week after playing the best team in the SEC East. If there were ever a time for Sumlin to shake this curse, it’s this Thanksgiving (we say, for the third straight season). That gets us to a somewhat decent bowl and a shot at ten wins. It stops the slide in many ways. Another home SEC loss might be the last straw for many, if they haven’t given up already.
We’ve got ten days left in this regular season. For better or worse, they’re going to tell us a lot about the future of the program.