Congratulations, Aggie Internet. There were no doubt corks popped on leftover bottles of champagne and reserve sparklers lit all 'round as news yesterday broke that Jake Spavital is finally leaving. Of course, this surprised no one. He had been the Internet effigy for about fifteen months, ever since his offense started to sputter mere weeks after he was hailed as a genius after the blowout in Columbia to start 2014. So the writing had been on the wall for quite some time, and yet every day the same questions were asked: "WHY DOES SPAV STILL HAVE JOB?" as if anyone who answered in the void of online football fanhood would have any sort of constructive reply.
This is a funny sport: it's hailed as a "business" by many erstwhile business gurus who follow it. And it's a funny business, too: it's the only one where we rejoice in firings and lament hirings. But that's okay, we tell ourselves: it comes with the job and they are very well compensated. It's true: coaching is the highest-profile of jobs. You are noticed for one thing or another, good or bad, and slipping through the cracks is nearly impossible. Men who lack ambition rarely choose coaching.
We demand excellence because large sums of money are being shoveled around. But this, as in any other "business" begins to lose its meaning once the trend floods the market. High salaries are not a guarantee for success, especially when every single coach in a division makes $4 million or more. It becomes a law of diminishing returns.
Fourteen seasons ago, a desperate RC Slocum replaced his OC midway through the season. The fired coach packed in his lesson, took other jobs. Became an assistant in other big conferences, re-tooled his craft. He finally got a shot as a head coach in the FCS. Moved on to the MAC. Now he's taken over at an ACC school.
And the man who replaced him has now occupied RC Slocum's office. Sitting on the other side of these decisions, don't think for a minute he doesn't remember and factor things in. The timing of things. The relationships affected. The coaching world is smaller than most realize. Aggie fans need to ask themselves what exactly they want. As our pal Shooter pointed out, Kevin Sumlin's tenure has netted Texas A&M more wins in any four-year period save a stretch since the '90s when RC was at the helm. And he's done so in the first years of the SEC.
Frankly, firing Sumlin would be disastrous. Historically inept. Cataclysmic. First, and most practically, there is no one else out there at this point. But more to the point, his results are not worthy of termination. Concern and re-shaping of staff, sure. But let's remind ourselves that we are not Alabama or Ohio State. When we're sitting here complaining about consecutive eight-win seasons, think back to the decade of the aughts, to one bowl win in fourteen seasons, to being a constant afterthought. Perspective is often the first victim of success, and nothing will remind you of that quicker than reading the comments on a football season GameThread.
We've come a long way; too far to throw it away in misplaced confidence and imprudent demands. And if he leaves on his own accord for the NFL, then best of luck to him. It's probably because he felt he'd accomplished all he could while in College Station given the hysteric atmosphere of the program, from school brass right down to all us internet heroes.
2016 is going to be the year for Kevin Sumlin to get results or face the consequences, so let's save our clamoring for a few more months.