Twice in the past week, the Aggie Internet has been set ablaze by the news that two blue-chip signal callers have decided to leave Texas A&M. The first was somewhat expected, but the second one caused some seismic rumblings and speculation that things are unsound at the very foundation of the program.
What caused this? Who caused this? Who can be held accountable? These are the simple questions with no simple answers. There is a tendency on social media to want things packaged into neat solutions: Fire X Coach. Hire Replacement. Bench QB1. Then there are the harder questions: Did Sumlin bungle this situation? Are both of these quarterbacks just spoiled by an entire life of success and unfamiliar with handling adversity? Are assistant coaches at fault? Are there parents or girlfriends or friends or teammates who factor in? The answer to all of these is probably not as clear-cut as we'd like, and the truth, as usual, is somewhere in the middle.
Most of life occurs in the gray areas, and when you strip down and look past the initial frustration with this situation it's difficult to see any ideal way to handle the situation. Do you not stock your roster with blue-chip quarterbacks, especially when you already have high turnover at the position? Do you pretend like one of their fathers is not an Aggie legend? It's easy to snipe at the situation without knowing very much about it, and the truth is that no one knows much about it, even those who think they do.
Kyle Allen will land on his feet, and he'll do well. And Kyler Murray may very well end up staying at Texas A&M, but the problems won't end there. He's got to win back the trust of teammates and fans, and he's got to show more on the field before assuming the mantle his father wore.
Read Twitter or any message board, or--God forbid--Facebook, and you'll see a litany of targets mowed down in the wake of these issues: Spav, Sumlin, "prima donna QBs" or even the "culture" of the program. All of these are probably factors. But when you look back over the past two seasons, none of our superstar quarterbacks has ever synced up with the team the way Manziel did or really made us feel like we had a chance to score every time we had the ball.
None of them have been able to get more out of their teammates when the game was on the line or will the team to victory. Now, of course, none of them are Manziel. They are allegedly more talented according to the recruiting services. But the expectation once Manziel left is that we could just plug-and-play and have amazing offenses forever, but what people forget is how hard Manziel worked. It's obscured by his other off-the-field life, but he paid his dues on the practice field and that fueled his drive. He wanted to be the quarterback for the Aggies. Everyone since then just expects to be. And those expectations seemed to be held by everyone: coaches, fans, and players alike.
There aren't any other Manziel-type players out there, and there probably won't be for a long time. But there are some very good players out there with chips on their shoulders and something to prove. It's worked for Sumlin before, so it might be worth another shot. Let the blame part sort itself out, and try to enjoy some football before the real offseason begins.