I've started and deleted this column about 5 times thus far including twice today. The reason being is that this season represents one of the more intriguing ones that A&M has had in quite a while. I dont buy the notion that this year is a rebuilding year--last year was a rebuilding year. This year should be a reloading/development year readying ourselves for a solid run in 2016. What that combination of confusing terms means is that I have high expectations for this year.
But before I get to why I have high expectations, let's get to the intrigue. This year is a pivotal year for Kevin Sumlin. I wasn't really surprised when the Coaches' Poll left us out of the top 25 last week...I didn't really take that as any testimony to our team's ability--but rather I took that as a sign that the coaches don't know what to make of Kevin Sumlin. On one hand you have the guy who's won 28 games over three years, and is 3-0 in bowls. On the other hand you have a guy with the stench of both the 2014 Alabama game and the 100+ ranked defense on him. I mean hell, in 2014, even after losing Johnny, Jake, Mike, etc. we were still #20 in the Coaches' Poll because coaches were willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. It seems like that benefit is now gone.
I think that recruits are thinking the same thing. For the past few years Sumlin has been using a vision of A&M competing for championships as his sales pitch. The facilities are there, the fan support is there--but stuff like an 8-5 record is enough to give recruits pause as to whether they really buy what Sumlin is selling. I get that. There's a lot riding on this season.
But even with that, I'm bullish on 2015 for A&M to meet expectations--and expectations are simply defined as reversing the trend of diminishing wins that we've had over the past few years. I've got high hopes for one reason: we're not worse than we were last year...and last year got us 8 wins. Our off-season coaching changes alone give me hope that we should be much improved this year...hypotheticals suck but in my mind a Chavis-coached 2014 defense probably nets us maybe 2 more wins last year.
Is the SEC West tougher than it was last year? I don't necessarily think so. So why the angst? Why is it unreasonable to expect this team to win 9 games?
This year has a boom or bust feeling to it. If we win at least 9 games and are competitive in our losses, recruiting will swing our way. If we win fewer than 8 then I think we're probably talking about whether we're going to see a coaching change in the next few years.
But I just don't see us landing at that latter part. The talent is there. The coaching staff is there. The pieces are in place for this to be a good year for us.
Am I wrong about that?