CARRY ON. On Thursday afternoon, quarterback Kyle Allen announced his intention to transfer from Texas A&M. He was granted a full release from the program, won't be part of the team for the bowl game, and is already publicly considering potential landing spots.
If you're a close follower of Aggie football, the news doesn't come as a total shock. Even if everything was running smoothly with the football program, the fact of the matter is Texas A&M had an 18-year-old and 19-year-old quarterback who both expected to be THE guy. Five-star quarterbacks don't redshirt in 2015. They don't ride the bench for a couple years and learn a system. They play. Right or wrong, this expectation is reinforced and sold to them in the recruiting process.
While the news from Thursday isn't necessarily surprising, the reality is jarring. This is a big blow to the Texas A&M football program. When Kyle Allen committed to A&M in June 2013, he was viewed as the guy to carry A&M after Johnny. As a fan, it's impossible to not envision championships in Atlanta and beyond when a blue chip of this caliber commits to play quarterback.
There are a number of practical and big picture early takeaways from this news:
Texas A&M needs help at quarterback - immediately.
With the departure of Kyle Allen, there are now two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster. One, a junior-to-be JUCO transfer. The other, a five-star freshman who is going to miss spring drills because he'll be on a baseball diamond. Personally, there was little question in my mind that in the Kyle vs. Kyler comparison, Allen gave Texas A&M a much clearer opportunity to compete for SEC championships.
The future with Kyler Murray is anything but clear. He's undersized. His decision making needs a ton of work. He's still a one-read quarterback in his progressions if you even want to call it a progression. More on this in a sec, but is his heart really in this? Did he wake up today viewing this as a massive opportunity, or does he feel the unrest and uncertainty like the majority of the fan base?
The Texas A&M coaching staff now has to scramble and recruit their asses off for a 2016 quarterback or two. As far as the timeline of recruiting quarterbacks goes, they're showing up about a year late to these guys' doors. Croot hard, corches.
When did things start to unravel?
We'll likely never know the full answer to this, but it sure would be nice to know when Kyle Allen started thinking about leaving. Does this date all the way back to Kyler Murray's recruitment and signing? More likely, what happened this season?
Unfortunately, I vividly recall watching that abortion of a game against Ole Miss. Obviously things on the field were a complete train wreck, but the real tragic theater was unfolding on the A&M sideline. We didn't know it at the time, but Kyler Murray was in the doghouse for mouthing off to the coaching staff. While Murray sulked on the outskirts, an injured Kyle Allen got his ass kicked all over the field. Unpleasant to watch. To any onlooker of that game, something was seriously awry. Allen was jacked up, and after the fact, Sumlin glibly acted as if everything was fine. The same glib, vague answers around the quarterback position continued week after week.
If you were Allen, or say Allen's dad, wouldn't you be pissed with how this was being handled publicly? There was very little public confidence or support for Kyle Allen in the face of adversity.
Again, this is just conjecture. Maybe Allen came to this decision in the last couple weeks. I'm not sure how anyone could look at the quarterback situation since Johnny Manziel and not see incredible mismanagement. The outcome has been an offense that makes horrible mistakes, has lost all of its punch against opponents worth a damn, and now a trend of attrition of skilled quarterbacks. And make no mistake - all signs point to Kyle Allen being a future NFL quarterback.
What is the culture of the Texas A&M football program?
Seriously. What is this program about right now? It has limped into the off season and got chopped at the knees last night. Changes are critically needed on the offensive side of the ball, and thus far, Sumlin has been crickets. Questions and uncertainty abound.
It's kind of amazing that the Texas A&M offense and defense share the same locker room, because to an outsider, the cultures of the two units couldn't be more different. The A&M offense isn't really a unit. There's a lack of unity, vision, and certainly trust. The personalities, egos, whatever - nothing meshes.
Swag, DJs, barber shops,
ugly flashy uniforms, and the like are not inherently bad things. They do not make up a culture. Believe it or not, I was an 18-22-year-old boy once. 18-22-year-old boys could never articulate this, but at their core, they crave certain things. The reptilian part of their brain craves structure. Discipline. Leadership. Someone that can show them that things will work out for their good. I really believe John Chavis has brought these elements to the defense.
What is the culture of the offense? It's totally devoid of identity. 2016 was already setup to be a pivotal year for Kevin Sumlin. UCLA comes to Kyle in less than nine months. Sumlin gets to repair an awful offensive line, figure out what to do with a staff that is lost, and now find a stable solution at quarterback.
This is all so much bigger than some lousy play calling. The best quarterback on the team is transferring before the culmination of his sophomore season.
I trust in Kevin Sumlin, but his work is cut out for him. This program needs direction.