You’ll have to pardon me for the language in this piece, I’m going to share what’s on my heart as of late vis a vis Aggie Football. I’ll share it in a sequential order that I hope makes sense to you because this is my process by which I deal with my emotions which are (obviously) largely dictated by our beloved football program.
The State of the Program at the end of Jimbo!
Can’t think about where we’re going unless we think about where we are right now and part of that is looking at what happened the last time Jimbo left a job. I’ve been flipping through Bud Elliott’s work over at Tomahawk Nation from the end of the 2017 season and haha it’s all pretty familiar! Flip through this piece here and and google some stuff and you’ll see that it’s probably fair to the program wasnt in the best state of affairs when the decision was made to move on from Jimbo which affected everything that I’m about to write about. The post Jimbo era was going to be a bit of a mess, and hey that’s unsurprising for a program that’s 12-12 over the last two years!
So that brings us to Elijah Robinson and tbh I dont know how we could have avoided the current weird dynamic that currently exists between Elijah Robinson and Texas A&M. Erob held this team together, cried in the locker room after a tough loss to LSU, and then heard on the fucking bus ride home (at the same time we did!) that Mike or Mark or whatever Stoops was getting the job.
But like we also told Erob that he was staying! He was critical to the mission of holding the roster together! We (and by we I mean our AD, I didnt do shit and dont deserve any blame) made Erob the most important person in the program, which ended up being super awkward for Mike Elko who, naturally, wanted to pick his own defensive coordinator...and then Erob got the call from one of his best friends to be the DC in Syracuse and here we are.
Could we have moved on from ERob when he got that Syracuse job? Probably! Would we have lost a lot players as a result given the emotional turmoil of the last few months? For sure! So we were damned if we did damned if we didn't! I dont like seeing that pic of Erob recruiting an instate kid wearing a Syracuse pullover! But two things on that 1) Erob is an elite recruiter and recruiting is great when it happens for you but absolute ass when it happens to you and 2) this is where we are and it’s super fucking weird but we don’t have much of a choice!
Ultimately Erob gave us the benefit of time and helping this team focus on football things in College Station (the bowl—more on that in a second!), while we work behind the scenes to let key players know that there is a future for them here at A&M. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best we got right now.
Guys we still have one more game to play! And it’s super weird because I doubt that Elko’s staff is all that involved in prep, and I doubt that Erob’s current interim staff is all that involved in what’s gonna happen next year! So we have two different football regimes operating at the same time in the same building and I bet the vibes are super fucking weird!
But again, what can we do? Thanks to Covid and Jimbo we havent been to a goddamn bowl since that lovely Orange Bowl win where Jimbo said we werent done yet—and we werent done yet! There was so much emotional turmoilly adventure yet to come!
As with the Erob situation, I am thankful for the opportunity for the players to focus on football and we just need to get through the bowl (hopefully with a win) to fully move on to the next era of Aggie Football.
This too is causing me anxiety! But it seems like thing are trending in a relatively positive way. We’ve got some high profile guys in there, and that sucks, but ah well it is what it is and life goes on and they deserve to find happiness outside of Aggie Football (I wish I had that choice sometimes!), and on the flip side it sure seems like we are actively engaged in portalling ourselves, which is a delightful surprise given where we’ve been over the past couple of years. We’re doing the best we can with it given the late start and the lack of infrastructure left by Jimbo (more on that next!), so ride the waves and let’s see where we are in April.
Mike Elko’s Work So Far!
When I said earlier that Jimbo left us in a weird spot, I mean that. I have spoken over and over again about programmatic mismanagement, and it’s coming to a head right now. We didnt have a director of recruiting, we didnt have a general manager, we didnt have a player personnel main guy and these are all guys we need right now.
But in the 18 days since Elko has been hired we did hire a GM, we did hire a portal recruiting scout, we did bring over some player personnel guys who were familiar with A&M having gone with Elko to Duke, and there are a few key guys who are stepping up in a big way who have been part of this program for years. We’re working on building that infrastructure, but NIL, portal, and early signing day have made this feel like swimming against the current. There’s just so much work to do—but it does seem like we are making progress!
My only critique of Elko so far is how long it’s taking to make these hires (and I get it! It’s only been 18 days and it’s more important to get the hires right than it is to get them made right now! But I am who I am!). Especially as it relates to portal recruiting players want to know who their position coaches are going to be...and not having a WR or LB coach is tough.
That being said I’ve been really pleased with the hires that Elko has made thus far. Collin Klein was fantastic hire. Tommy Moffitt is a legend. The position coach hires we’ve made so far are really really really good (I need an elite recruiter at that WR spot). I am a well known trust the process guy but I cant help but wish the process was happening a bit quicker. That’s on me though!
Advice Moving Forward!
It is easy to shit your pants right now about portal recruiting and regular recruiting especially when Longhorns are in the playoffs and LSU is coming off of yet another 9 win season. If you are of the pants shitting type (and I get it I am that person!) then do your best to check out some and wait to see what the roster looks like for Spring Ball. Portal recruiting is absolutely bananas. It’s truly the dumbest thing I’ve followed in my 20+ years of following recruiting and it will eat you up alive emotionally. Following recruiting during a coaching change is equally maddening. Dont get too high, dont get too low. Let’s see the end result.
In that same view I’d say patience is key. And that’s not a way to let Elko off the hook, but trying to make hard and fast projections of the Elko regime (either way, positive or negative) based on 18 days on the job is absolute silliness. I firmly believe Elko has a plan, and he is working that plan, and that plan is best evaluated at months 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12,which happens to be beginning of Spring ball, Summer recruiting, where the roster is in August, where we are mid season, and what year 1 looked like both from an onfield and recruiting lens. Until that first 4 month mark though there is simply not enough data to really make any good inferences as to how well he’s doing his job. I am saying this mostly for myself. I dont enjoy shitting my pants and therefore I am making the conscious effort to focus on not shitting my pants over the littlest things. I’d encourage you to do the same!
BTHO oklahoma state.