The season is almost officially over and I'm in an introspective place regarding the future of Kevin Sumlin and the Texas A&M football program. I can't help but feel a bit disappointed about the way the year went--my expectations were a 10-3 season including a win in a New Years 6 bowl...and we were almost there. Winnable games against Auburn and LSU just slipped out of our grasp. We can point to a number of reasons--QB injuries, lack of linebacker depth etc...but we are what our record states we are. So in an effort to get a sense of where our program is I'm going to try and put together a series of articles evaluating a bunch of things including the depth chart, staff decisions, and maybe offensive and defensive rankings.
Today I'm going to start with yearly records as compared to our division opponents. I'll present the numbers and then add a bit of commentary at the end...but hopefully we'll get some good discussion going in the comments. I've included the past four years for all programs except for Auburn and Arkansas--they get the last three years given both changed coaches in 2013. So here we go:
- This assumes that everyone in the division plays an equal schedule with the same number of cupcakes/decent OOC opponents
- Arkansas' record is a bit misleading given where they were in 2013 when Bielema took over
- Auburn's results are pretty shocking given that they were 12-2 in their first year under Malzahn
- Ole Miss is the only program that has consistently improved on a year by year basis
- Everyone is wayyy behind Saban's machine
- Auburn is slightly ahead of that middle of the pack group
- A&M, Miss. State, and Ole Miss are fighting for that 3/4 spot
- Ole Miss, again is the only program that has made positive progress on a yearly basis (3-5, 3-5, 5-3, 6-2)
- Say what you will but Hugh Freeze is doing something right at Ole Miss
- Everyone is still running way behind Alabama
- Auburn's 9-9 is interesting...in 2012 they were 5-1, 2013 3-3 and this year 1-5
- Basically A&M is fighting for that third spot on a yearly basis
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN
I don't really care about what happened years and years ago...I'm 35 years old and I feel like 35 years of records give you a pretty decent view of a program. In my lifetime A&M is 280-150-3, which averages out to basically an 8-4 record. Kevin Sumlin averaging 9 wins a year over the past four year is, in some sense, overachieving given our history. Sumlin's winning percentage is only behind Slocum's in my lifetime...and that's with (what seems to me) a much more difficult conference schedule than the old SWC.
I guess my main takeaway is that maybe we're ok for now. I'd like to be competing for SEC championships...and maybe we are making roads to get there. Had I told you back in late 2011 that we'd average 9 wins a year for the next couple of years and that at worst we'd be .500 in conference I think all of us would have been fairly pleased. Maybe not ecstatic, but at least pleased. In some sense our discontentment with our current state of affairs could be a failure to have reasonable expectations.
Here's the bigger question: What's our ceiling? Right now we are overachieving given the history of our football program, but it seems like we are underachieving given the resources that we have developed over the past few years. .500 in conference isn't terrible, but if we're still here next year without any progress, then perhaps we've got some larger programmatic issues to address.
The rest of this is up to your interpretations. Take a look at the numbers and tell me what you think.