I’ve seen ‘em lose and I’ve seen ‘em win, but I’ve never seen ‘em quit.
It’s hard to quit something that you never started.
With an opportunity in front of them that most can only dream of, the Texas A&M Aggies went on the road Saturday and turned in one of the worst efforts in recent program history.
Days after being emblazoned as one of the four best programs in the entire country, the Aggies went on the road as double digit favorites and got obliterated in all phases of the game by a bad football team.
As a program in recent years, Texas A&M has been criticized for having more flash than substance. The program is dripping with money and has all the shiny trappings of a powerhouse. It’s positioned itself as the cool place to play. We’ve got all the uniforms. We’ve got a D.J. that plays practices. Hell, we’ve got a barber shop.
These ancillary bells and whistles were needed to shoot some life into a dormant program. I’m sure they’ve played some part in helping recruit at historically high levels for A&M. They are not, however, indicators that you’ve arrived anywhere meaningful.
After several years of flashy, high-powered starts followed by listless, whimpering finishes, Texas A&M had been branded with a truly horrid adjective:
The team knew this. They wanted to make it clear that 2016 would be different. Finally, this team was going to have the leadership, depth, and experience to go toe-to-toe with anyone. While they’ve taken steps forward to build resilience, Saturday’s game was a massive step back. And that dirty little word resurfaced:
Texas AM- defensively same ole story missed tackles, SOFT & poor effort , losing Knight hurt but they still put up points, BAD BAD loss— Booger (@SECbooger) November 6, 2016
I’m sure this will come as a big surprise, but I never played SEC football. I have played ice hockey since I was four years old and even got to play at the collegiate level for a couple years. Physical team sports teach and mold young men in ways that are hard to imitate elsewhere. They build character. Perhaps more importantly, they reveal character.
As an athlete, here’s a non-comprehensive list of adjectives I would rather have attached to me than soft:
Calling someone soft is being totally dismissive. You’re essentially writing them off. It’s a non-starter. Soft teams don’t win anything meaningful.
Against Mississippi State, Texas A&M was a soft football team. They prominently displayed all the sub-adjectives that comprise softness - sloppy, ill-prepared, lazy, disinterested. They were what we historically ascribe to Longhorns - entitled.
The Ags thought they could get off the bus yesterday, show up with their shiny No. 4 ranking, and coast to a victory over an inferior opponent. Instead, they got their asses kicked up and down the field. They lost the trenches on both sides of the ball in humiliating fashion. A couple stat lines jump out to me from my buddy Camacho’s By the Numbers:
Mississippi State 365
Texas A&M 117
And two starting linebackers having one solo tackle between them.
What’s so maddening about the loss is talent is dripping from the A&M roster. Losing games is much easier to stomach when you have a talent-limited team that plays their asses off. It is insanely frustrating watching talented players not give a damn.
Where toughness comes from is somewhat ambiguous. Are people born with it? Is it nurtured? Is it a reflection of their coaching or a team culture? Can a soft team be made tough?
While this Aggie team might not have the size, speed, depth, and athleticism of LSU or Alabama, I’m convinced toughness starts and ends between the ears.
Soft and entitled are traits that are very un-Aggie.
We’ll see what kind of fortitude and give-a-damn this team has on Saturday night at Kyle Field. Getting manhandled in the trenches by a rebuilding Ole Miss team at the bottom of the division is not an option.
The word soft should make this team’s blood boil. Their pride has fully been called into question.
Here’s hoping they give a damn.
Beat the hell outta Ole Miss.