My 90 year-old Aggies landlord, Henry Hilton, stopped by the other day after returning from a vacation in Italy. Sometimes he likes to come by and chew the
fat, though he’s not getting around as well as he did five years ago when we first met here in College Station. Back then, my youngest girl had just transferred to A&M from Belmont University in Nashville where she’d attended several semesters to study music. As Texas’ 5A Soprano One First Chair (or State Champ, as I call her), she felt Belmont was her best choice to continue her music studies after considering Berklee in Boston and NYU. We’d vacationed in Nashville earlier in hers’ and her sister’s childhoods and the college seemed familiar and down-home to her Mom and me.
She had never visited A&M, with the exception of spending a week at a basketball camp one summer during her junior high years. The thing was, in all those years of raising her and her sister and working most weekends myself, I’d never had the opportunity to bring our family to an A&M football game.
My girls were basketball players and involved in church and other social activities, and not surprisingly, weren’t football fans. My coaching days were long over and other than attending an occasional high school game, I was pretty much on my own in the Man Cave. They even called it “The Cave” back then. How funny; I’m thinking a lady came up with the term.
I decided one weekend to fly her in from Nashville and we drove into College Station for a game. When I was arranging for tickets, I was told over the phone the seats were located three rows from the top in the end zone, so I asked for seats at the very top, which I received. I mean, if you’re that close already, why not go all the way? Well, little did I know, she fell in love with Texas A&M — its yell leaders and student section, the hand signals they’d give to alert the crowd of the next yell, the band and the spirit. She even started studying the program to decipher what all was coming up next. I sort of beamed.
The game was great too. We fell behind Oklahoma State but came back and beat the Cowboys for what may turn out to be the last time in our school’s history. My daughter transferred into Aggieland and received a double degree in Psychology and Sociology, and for now has her singing career on hold. Named after Carly Simon, I figure she’ll be a star once she’s ready to roll. After my Longhorn lady and I split up after our 25-year contract expired, I decided I’d move back to College Station and catch up on some games, some Aggie camaraderie and be around if my new Aggie needed anything.
While driving through a neighborhood that sits pretty close to the campus, I saw a “For Rent” sign and a truck sitting in the gravel driveway. Stopping and getting out, I peered into a window where a gentleman was busy with some repairs. I yelled, “You’re working too hard in there!” He looked up and smiled, and I said, “Can I come in?”
We introduced ourselves and he asked me if I was David Walker, the quarterback, to which I responded, “Yes, sir.” He told me his wife had bought their two sons both mine and kicker Tony Franklin’s jerseys back when they were just kids. This was pretty cool. I asked him what the ‘going rate’ was on the little 2-bedroom house and he told me. I’d driven by this same house a thousand times when I was in college, so it already felt a little like home to me. I’d even been in a bad wreck in front of it when a guy U-turned on me from the right lane just after sunset one evening.
Little did I know I’d be in another accident a couple of years later that would break my neck. It would be in this house I would type my memoirs two-fingered (it’s how I roll), unknowingly suffering from a cervical fracture and two complete dislocations.
I said, “Deal,” and Mr. Hilton gave me his agent’s business card and said she’d get me ready to roll. While apartments were requiring proof of employment, this gentleman never asked for any; it was an Aggie deal. There once was a time when a handshake in Aggieland was all one needed and jobs were easy to find.
My landlord is a former Marine who was a civil engineer for the Military for many years, most of them spent overseas or in South America. I asked him what he thought of Johnny Manziel and the season we’d just had. He first told me about a game in 1940 when Texas A&M was about to repeat as national champions, having won it all in 1939. The last game of the season in ’40 was in Austin against our former bitter rival, the University of Texas. Tickets, he said, were $1.10 and many of the boys couldn’t get inside the stadium because they didn’t have the money. Security had a pretty good eye on all the gates and fences, but a delivery truck pulled up and when the gate opened, a few of them were able to dash in and scatter.
Hey, you had to make do in those days.
Apparently it was a heartbreaking loss, and he hitch-hiked back to a little town called Hearne with a couple of well-to-do, very happy Texas grads after the game. Hearne was still about 30 miles out, so he hitch-hiked the rest of the way with some fellow Ags who were coming back from the game.
Seventy-two years later, he still has trouble talking about that night.
He quickly brightened though, changed his tone and looked me in the eyes and said, “Dave, this season was the best I can remember since 1939.” How could anyone have enjoyed it more than a 90 year-old Aggie, and our quarterback? There’s surely others who came close but after observing this gentleman’s demeanor, I’m satisfied none surpassed him.
He was wearing a company jacket that I noticed had the name of Ennis, Texas on it. He told me the story about how he’d received it from one of the city contractors once when he was on a job there. I mentioned that our quarterback had just gotten himself a speeding ticket in Ennis and the judge, a Baylor grad (don’t mess with Texas football!) was claiming they’d caught the Joker, or somebody just as notorious, for excessive use of acceleration in their quaint little speed-trap town. The judge added that college defenses couldn’t catch Johnny but their police department sure had … wait, make that, “allegedly.”
Mr. Hilton (yes, I call him Mister Hilton) just laughed. All the stories the media guys and gals have passed judgment on and the little “meeting” our athletic director from A&M had with Johnny’s parents are all laughable matters in real-time. Even Johnny said a week later that neither his parents nor the A.D. had informed him of the details of any such discussion. He only knew what the A.D. had quoted to the papers. This tells me that Johnny’s parents know which apple carts to topple, and which not to. Apparently this little sit-down didn’t amount to the big ol’ blip on the radar screen the A.D. had hoped for.
After all, since my playing days began during the modern era of football at A&M (the Vietnam War ended my Freshman year, coeds were on campus, freshmen were playing real football and the black athletes were coming on board), I’ve got to agree with my landlord. When has any A&M quarterback (Heisman winner or not) been able to enjoy a season AND a season finale like we had this year?
At Texas A&M, great seasons have uncannily been spoiled by losing the ensuing bowl game or being ineligible in the first place. This is why 1976 (10-2 record, ranked 7th nationally with a season-ending 7-game winning streak) and 2012 (11-2, ranked fifth nationally with a season-ending 6-game winning streak) are about as close to reasons for genuine revelry this school has had heading into the off-season.
Jackie Sherrill’s Cotton Bowl-winning season of 1985 certainly ranks in the top 3 for us in the modern era as a ‘body of work with a finish’.
Kevin Murray was exceptional during this 10-2 season and also in beating Auburn and Heisman winner, Bo Jackson.
1987 was also strong but the team was declared ineligible the following spring for the upcoming ’88 season, which certainly erased some luster. Otherwise we have to go back to 1956 to run down another No. 5 team.
Losing season finales is no way to start an off-season. Rarely does a team lose its last game and come back to win the national championship the following season. (Reason for Revelry No. 28). It’s time to celebrate a little and act like we’ve been here before.
Here’s another reason to celebrate. A recent study says Johnny’s Heisman has brought in an estimated 37 million dollars in free exposure. Johnny’s share is zero, or at best, deferred. Self-promotion is the number one key to successful ventures later in life — that time period when the NCAA doesn’t have its stranglehold on you. (Right or Wrong, only TMZ knows for sure.)
The more Johnny hits the spotlight the greater his opportunities will be for endorsements once his college career is done. Responsibilities aside, Johnny has to get out there, preferably with Miss Savage on one arm. Hey, Johnny is no Tebow, and nobody expects or truly wants him to be. I support Johnny in every public endeavor because, as much as everyone seems to believe he’s a kid who doesn’t know any better yet, I would advise you against challenging him in a game of Chess, pool , Monopoly or especially poker. You just might get your butt beat while he’s laughing all the way to the bank.
I was the Conference Freshman of the Year and played the entire season at 17 years of age, and was born in December like Johnny. I’ve still never seen New York City, although I have been to Dallas (to watch Texas play the U and take a girlfriend to try out for the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders) and I’ve even made it to a few NBA basketball games in my lifetime. What’s up with Jack Nicholson, anyway? No Lakers seats? Of course, they’re not having a particularly stellar season.
Regardless, when Old School meets New School, there’s no contest.
Enjoy Johnny Heisman while you can. Obviously he is a dreamer with a huge imagination. His visualization skills are right on par with his peripheral ones. He’ll try to get it right but if it’s not there, he will improvise. That’s what makes him unpredictable; that’s what makes him Johnny. And he’s pretty good at the laser shot, balcony shot, long ball and longer ball, too. (See Dude Perfect)
[Check it out >> Johnny Football pulls off some unreal trick shots with Dude Perfect]
I’ve been saying this since I knighted him the No. 1 quarterback in A&M’s history following just the second game of his career in a throwback ’70s Aggie uniform. I had to go back and study the replay as a coach would several times before I wrote that week’s article.
Here’s the deal: with the success this Spread offense is having in the NFL, as soon as Johnny gets proficient with the “Zone Read” (referred to in the NFL as the “Zone Option,” probably for elitist reasons) suitors will come calling. You’ve got RG3 in Washington (are you kidding me?? Shanahan’s running it???), that 5-foot-11 Russell Wilson kid in Seattle (USC’s former coach runs that outfit, who, by the way, lost a national championship to Vince Young’s spread offense at Texas) and Jim Harbaugh, just a couple of years removed from Stanford where he ran a standard Pro set, is now in the Super Bowl with Zone Read Extraordinaire, Colin Kaepernick, after a mid-season promotion and a distinct change in offensive direction.
The next news out of the NFL was that the Oregon Ducks’ coach, his team a shoe-in for preseason Top 3 honors, decided to change funky uniforms yet again and became an Eagle — as in, Philadelphia. Guess what offense he runs.
Johnny Manziel has tweeted previously while watching Drew Brees hit throw after throw that Drew is proof-positive that 72 inches of height can easily get the job done in the NFL. Unfortunately for me, not many folks believed this in the late ’70s, especially about guys in the 71-inch category running Wishbones. They do now.
And while Kaepernick is not short of stature, he has a much smaller man’s wheels. Just ask the Falcons.
The clincher is, just like Drew Brees, Johnny only had a few colleges contact him about coming to play football for them. Drew came back from a tough knee injury his junior year in high school to lead Austin’s Westlake High to the 5A championship, and still, not a peep was heard from the gods of Texas football. He even had an uncle who was a tremendous option quarterback at Texas named Marty Akins. Drew wasn’t even recruited as a maybe-defensive back there. He eventually went to Purdue and shattered every passing record and won a ton of games. By gosh, he’s also won the Super Bowl.
Johnny, while under the same recruiting duress as non-college prospect Drew was — sans the knee surgery — verbally committed to go play for powerhouse Oregon, with the same coach who now heads up the Eagles organization. This was the only guy in America, besides Sherman at A&M and Coach Sumlin who was still at Houston, who believed in Johnny enough after his junior year to offer him a scholarship.
Do you think Johnny might be on Philly’s radar, especially with Michael Vick on yet another downswing? I do.
I’d say Johnny is the ultimate juker and certainly won’t be anybody’s Joker, at least not for long. He’s already heard an A&M rep telling ESPN that the Texas A&M brand is bigger than Johnny Manziel. His parents have been called into the principal’s office with what seems to be a reprimand/warning, and the NCAA has its eyes on his every move via Twitter, Facebook, TMZ, Vegas and the normal scumbags out there with smart phones. Meanwhile, Johnny is back attending to his studies, doing some light-hearted singing occasionally with that Clint Black smile of his, giving interviews at the halftimes of basketball games and signing anything put in front of him. Just stay grounded, Johnny. 37 million, huh?
He may be a very wealthy young man in just a little over a year from now. It almost makes you wish Mike Sherman would’ve had reason to see if Johnny could have saved his job as a true freshman, just to have seen him play another year. Our best bet may be to continue to shun the Zone Read (Option) in our offensive attack.
At any rate, Johnny Manziel will be to Philly — or anyone else moving up in the draft order — what Joe Willie Namath was to New York and the Jets: their Savior. Hey, how have Tebow and Sanchez been doing lately?
I just hope the Senior Bowl players were right when they voted the Aggies next season’s National Champions. Mr. Hilton would enjoy that.
This hand, guys, the Juker is wild.
For the first time in a generation, not a soul in Aggieland is turning their lonely eyes to Jackie Sherrill, or, for that matter, even to R.C. Slocum. While these are certainly the two heavy-weights of our day, we now find ourselves with someone in the cockpit as nervy and slick as any of the the ultra-conservatives at A&M could’ve ever imagined. Change did Happen — and for the best.
That's some prowess bold there, brother. Top Gun.
Hey, we’re talking football here. It’s taken 35 years to transition from a no frills, full-house Wishbone offense (shh … three things happen when you pass) to the “Spread” offense peppered with occasional “No-Back” sets. This is tasty stuff, although for some old-timers, this latest craze equates to, dare I say, jet-black uniforms. While the decision-makers (fantasy GM legends in their own minds) were looking down their noses at the Run and Shoot and the Fun ‘n Gun and all the Shotguns out there, time was passing us by. While we were staying with the Old School Option (disguised by Fran with a two-back set) while ditching defense (‘Okay, you line up here’), Texas was winning a national championship in the “InVincible” formations with a former A&M assistant calling all their plays.
With all due respect to these two fine gentlemen and the other head coaches whom A&M has given equal positions of authority, I’ve got to call “Jackpot” or “Bingo” or “Whoop” or something extraordinary here in this case. Don’t you? Maybe running out into the streets and screaming at the top of our lungs might do it.
I mean, can winning the lottery be any more exciting than this football season was? Okay, this may be stretching it a tad — but it is a darned good feeling.
More records fell than most folks could count but the one nearest and dearest to my heart was the one I’ve been fretting with you about all season from my Gamedayr perch. Other than the 20 points George Woodard scored in the ’76 season’s Sun Bowl — still an all-time bowl record for A&M — only one other offensive record from our era in the ’70s still stood. It was mine; the 35-year old single game rushing record for an Aggies quarterback.
This story wasn’t deemed a ‘story’ by A&M or the other media outlets, so this will be its only publication, just for grins.
With barely less than 12 minutes remaining in the Cotton Bowl, Johnny Heisman already had 176 yards rushing. Yes, I was keeping track in a scorebook for posterity. Wouldn’t you have been? I was tweeting the countdown to my Twitter followers, most of whom were hungry for obliteration. Okay, I get that.
When they announced that Johnny held the all-time record for one half’s rushing yardage for all the quarterbacks in Cotton Bowl history, I had a hunch he was definitely on pace to kicking my butt as well. You see, I spent 11 years of my life teaching children the intricacies of Algebra. I knew it would depend on what kind of kick I had at the finish and I was preparing myself for the challenge. This is Johnny ‘Football’ Manziel we’re talking about here — the Sugar Ray Leonard of college football who I had to get ready to stave off!
Sometime in the second quarter, when I suddenly felt it slipping away, I calculated his progress and tweeted that he was on a 260-yard pace. It’s hard to turn that kind of locomotive around when it’s coming at you at full tilt – and who wanted to? Oklahoma? You’ve got to touch him to tackle him, hombres.
My record of 182 yards was now nothing more than a sitting duck waiting for its inevitable fate. Road kill, but still upright. This Stun Gun offense of ours didn’t need no stinkin’ Zone Read! It just needed “Sweet Feet” back there playing flag football with a few of the intramural boys over there on defense.
Then right on cue on a second down play, Johnny Manziel skipped off on a beautiful 16-yard run to eclipse the summit I’d finally reached after playing 40 games of hard-hitting, smash-mouth, Wishbone triple-option football. He blew by my little peon record by a full 10 yards on this scamper, and as former Aggie referee Red Cashion used to say so eloquently in the NFL, “First Dooooown.” The play call? It was what we called “18 Option” in high school which we ran once a game like A&M does. It’s the lead option, in this case to the right. Beaten by the option — How fitting.
I slumped further into my seat. Sure, I’d given the three and was winning my sixth bowl game in a row in my office pool, but I was somehow feeling nauseous. At 57 years of age and on the outside looking in, there may not be a whole lot more records out there left for me to achieve. I mean, I’m no marathon runner.
Think about this for a minute. The option game of Franchione’s was long gone (and so was Stephen McGee) and I knew Sherman wasn’t going to run his quarterback helter-skelter from his multiple B.S. Pro sets that he was so enamored with, so when Coach Sumlin was hired, I was home free, right? He certainly wasn’t going to run any OPTION! I watched them at Houston! Throw, throw, handoff, throw, touchdown! Yes! This record of mine would live until Judgment Day came along!
And it barely lasted through the sixth game of the season in Shreveport.
Johnny wasn’t yet done, though, not on this night, pounding the other troops in Jerry’s House as though one day he’d own it, too. He kept piling it on; a 5-yarder here, a 31-yarder there, smiling from ear to ear, and I sat tweeting and Facebooking about what a marvelous game the Aggies had just played. For the record, Johnny Heisman rushed for an emphatic 229 yards against the vaunted Oklahoma Sooners, winners of eight of the last nine against the Ags and pre-game favorites in at least ten straight.
Happy? Ecstatic? Would it be ungracious of me to use the term “tempered excitement?’ I mean, this wasn’t Alabama where I jumped out of my chair on that goal line stand, or breathing a deep sigh of relief when Johnny took a knee at La. Tech with 181 yards to his name. No, somehow I had to be bigger than this.
I figured when all the writers called to ask how it felt to lose my record in such magnificent fashion, I’d say all the right things, like, “This really sucks. We didn’t need to be running Johnny with that big lead. How come he never slides or runs out of bounds? And by the way, why does he always tuck the ball away in his left arm when he takes off? How come nobody’s asked him that yet? Can you tell me?”
“I’ll be okay. Now, can you excuse me?” See? This is how you handle the Press when inquired about delicate situations.
Yeah, I’d be okay. I texted my daughter and said, “He’s done it. I’ve left the building.” She replied, “But Dad, it took a Heisman guy to break that ecord, and after 35 years at that. That’s a heck of a lot of games.” She had me there.
But wait, this was Texas A&M and Oklahoma. These two teams, along with Alabama and Texas, ruled the Wishbone world for a decade or so, even longer at Oklahoma. I thought about what long-time OU coach Barry Switzer must have been thinking. “This kid has over 200 yards and he’s not even in my Wishbone? Heck, did I have a single quarterback ever break 200 yards in my Wishbone? What’s going on here? They’re not even running the loaded option. Man, if I’d only had Johnny Manziel in my Wishbone.”
As one of the few true triple option guys who ran the Wishbone, I was wondering the same things myself. Johnny’s runs all look like so much fun. Ours resembled coming out
from behind a bunker with lead flying everywhere, barely escaping through walls of barbed wire before a grenade went off in your head. Johnny dances from one end zone to the next as smoothly as a hot-shot cutting through San Francisco traffic on roller blades. It looks so graceful and effortless, and sometimes kind of impossible.
These are two different teams and two different eras. Right, Coach Switzer?
One more quick point and we’ll get back to the future. It’s been noted that this is the first time since the 1939 and 1940 teams that the Ags have won two consecutive bowl games. What I find a little more mind-blowing is that this is only the seventh time the Ags have won their last GAME two years in a row since ‘39 and ‘40. That’s right. What is that, seven for 72? Crazy.
We repeated in ’50 and ’51, took 27 years off and then started racking them up season after season. We were on our way.
Surprisingly, there was only one Texas A&M coach who never lost a season finale between 1951 and now, besides Kevin Sumlin, of course. He was my offensive coordinator and the guy who stepped in when Bellard said “Adios” to Wishbone haters everywhere – Tom Wilson. Coach Wilson had back-to-back season-ending victories on all three of his opportunities, from 1978 to 1981 (going 4-0 overall), before being blindsided with Jackie Sherrill’s sudden million dollar arrival. “You can just sit tight out there in Midland, Coach. Jackie won’t need our plane back for a couple of weeks. Hey, you’re the greatest; thanks for everything. Way to finish.”
What’s troubling is that since Tom’s last season here in 1981, we’ve accomplished this feat only three more times, including 2011-‘12. Before now it was 1994-’95 under R.C. and before that it was 1984-’85 under Jackie. That’s it! As I said; crazy. This is also the only time since 1951 that two different head coaches have sealed the deal (Sherman and Sumlin now; somebody and somebody else, then).
Just like the torrential downpours we’re now having in the Valley, the drought certainly appears over for the Fightin’ Texas Aggies. Provided our two new starters on the offensive line fall into place and the Titan behind them stays healthy, 2013 will be the dream season some of us Old Bloods have been awaiting for years. Johnny has won the USA Today’s first-team All-Bowl quarterback spot and is the first unanimous choice for the Manning Award. The fact that Jake Matthews is returning says a lot. He says we have a chance to do something very special. Our chances just got better.
What I find amazing is that Johnny had his fourth-worst game against Oklahoma from the ‘NCAA Passer Rating’ perspective, yet still found a way to rack up 516 total yards, breaking the Cotton Bowl record of 407. Obviously the “Passer Rating” does not a complete quarterback make, but given time and experience, Johnny has all the tools to be pushing the No. 1 guy, A.J. McCarron of Alabama.
Johnny finished the season ranked 15th in the country and 11th among returning underclassmen. Most had excellent bowl games, including McCarron, Aaron Murray of Georgia, Tajh Boyd of Clemson (the Coaches 1st Team All-American) and Conner Shaw of South Carolina.
Keep those legs movin’, Johnny. We don’t need a No. 1 guy in Passer Rating to be No. 1 in the country. Johnny’s attaining No. 1 in Total Offense in the country by almost 20 yards per game is very special. When has thathappened before at Texas A&M? My first guess is never. Thanks for the terrific offensive scheme, Coach Sumlin, and I doubt anyone ever says Johnny’s a “product of the system.”
Johnny also broke probably the oldest record on file, the single-season touchdown record of 19, which led the country at the time. It had been held by the original No. 8, Joel Hunt in 1927. Hunt’s record was later matched by Darren Lewis in 1990 and Jorvorskie Lane in 2006.
It was also Johnny’s seventh 100-yard rushing game, breaking Greg Hill’s freshman record of six in 1991. Manziel’s 229 rushing yards broke the NCAA bowl record for rushing yards by a QB. The old mark of 201 yards was set by Dwight Dasher of Middle Tennessee State in the 2009 New Orleans Bowl. I wonder if it was Mike Mosley’s 180 yards in the Bluebonnet Bowl that Dasher broke. It’s possible, but the sports information department is a little sluggish and I’ve got a deadline to keep.
The career receptions leader at Texas A&M, Ryan Swope, added the school record for career receiving yards to his long list of accomplishments. Swope’s 104 yards overcame Jeff Fuller’s old record of 3,092 yards. Swope finished his career with 252 catches for 3,117 yards. His 24 touchdowns were No. 2 in school history. He’ll be a tough player and personality to replace. We wish him all the best in the NFL. I think he’d be high on the list of the Patriots at this point.
Defensively, we were outstanding against Oklahoma, repeatedly holding them to field goals in the early going. Oklahoma became the first team to score in the first quarter since Ole Miss pulled the trick in game 5 of 2012. We had two games with miracle finishes; the Ole Miss game offensively and the Alabama game defensively. Hold that thought … and keep the white helmets on; they’ve proven unbeatable.
His was the only team in A&M history to have the grit, belief, confidence and determination to turn an 0-2 conference record into double-digit wins by running the table — besides my seventh-ranked 1976 team that won the Sun Bowl. In an earlier article I hoped for two things after beating Alabama; a Heisman for Johnny and a Top 5 finish for the Aggies for the first time since Bear Bryant’s 1956 team. We got both.
The Vegas boys have moved us from 8th to 5th after the bowl games in terms of winning the national championship next season. The only teams they deem have a better shot are Alabama, Oregon, Ohio State and LSU. LSU is losing a lot of underclassmen suddenly to the NFL draft. The odds may change yet again, and very soon.
Johnny is favored to win another Heisman. Some of the quarterbacks I mentioned will be right there with him. One thing I’m fairly certain of is that a defensive player will have hell getting into the Top 3 again for a long time. In the minds of the voters, as soon as someone starts gaining pundit awareness, he’ll get Te’o’d pretty quickly. Manti didn’t represent the nation’s defensive players very well in the BCS championship game, as we all noticed.
It looked like he was wearing Chanel No. 5, not his normal No. 5.
As long as Johnny doesn’t get Tebow’d himself, we’ll be alright. As you know, Tebow failed to win another Heisman after winning his first as a sophomore. Oh wait, we don’t want Johnny getting Clowney’d either. My God, did you see that back’s helmet fly?
Remember what catcher Gus Sinski told Billy Chappel (played by Kevin Costner) in the movie, “For Love of the Game?” “The boys are all here for ya, we’ll back you up, we’ll be there, cause Billy, we don’t stink right now. We’re the best team in baseball, right now, right this minute, because of you. You’re the reason. We’re not gonna screw that up. We’re gonna be awesome for you right now. Just throw.”
As the BCS title game was winding down, I had only one vision dancing in my head.
“Somewhere the Bear is smiling, marking September 14 at Kyle Field on his calendar, taking one more drag on his smoke, and one last shot of whiskey.”
The way the A.P. works and its penchant for setting up pivotal games for maximum interest, I predict Alabama will be ranked No. 1 and Texas A&M will be ranked No. 2 when the first pre-season polls are posted. Hey, it will be cool to be Number 2. It already is.
Later folks. Let’s Bring in the Ringers. Signing date’s only a month away.
So much negative history abounds leading up to the 2013 Cotton Bowl matchup
between the Texas Aggies and the Oklahoma Sooners that it’s downright frightening. Let’s look at a few of the facts around which I’ve found it difficult to wrap my head.
Fact: The Aggies have won only 1 of their last 8 Cotton Bowls.
Fact: The Aggies have won only 1 of their last 10 season finales.
Fact: The Aggies have won only 6 of their last 25 season finales.
Fact: The Aggies have won only 4 of their last 20 season finales played inside the state of Texas.
Fact: The Aggies have won only 2 of the last 13 and 1 of their last 9 vs. the Oklahoma Sooners.
Fact: The Aggies have yet to win in Cowboys Stadium in 4 tries.
Fact: The Aggies didn’t have Number 2 quarterbacking or Kevin Sumlin head coaching in a single one of these above-mentioned games.
[Related >> Seven
other Heisman winners have played in the Cotton Bowl, how have they
Is that all you’ve got? Then it’s time to push back in Aggieland. The key to continued failure boils down to one game, and this is it. Status quo has never built championships when you possess this kind of final-game legacy. Seniors hate leaving on a bad note and it doesn’t help morale. Look at Alabama: Tradition be damned, it’s time to redirect and refocus and bag this special quarry before the sun goes down.
You have to leave the field with your heads held high and huge smiles on your faces. You need to look good on TV. You need to be brimming with confidence. All the Mommies and Daddies in high school land and the junior colleges need to feel the excitement with their stud kids watching along with them. You’ve got to come off the field a winner. You’re in the SEC now and you’re playing the rubber game for the conference, which is 3-3 in the bowls. Prove you’re better now than Florida or LSU could ever envision being.
This is your destiny.
2012 has been the year for the Aggies to turn over a new leaf, start fresh and eliminate old demons. They’ve even drawn up plans for renovation and expansion of Kyle Field; The sky really is the limit!
Obviously the Aggies are way below the .500 mark as they head into yet another season finale and find themselves looking up from a deep well of muddy orange clay and green slime. It’s been quite ugly digging themselves further and further into the pit of no return. Needless to say, the Aggies have little reason to believe the upcoming set of results will differ from the previous.
But the one thing the Aggies would appear to have going for them is the magical season they have now in progress. Momentum has swung their way after a quarter of a century, and at this point at least, there seems to be no stopping them.
Oklahoma’s defense is certainly susceptible, as it’s given up over 30 points in its last three games. A&M’s offense is certainly an explosion waiting to happen, methodical in its striking abilities, and continues to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Superman himself leads the show, and reporters will be allowed to probe and prod him immediately following the game, for the first time in his career, in attempts to get inside his head.
“What did you see out there, Johnny? What are you feeling? What was your primary point of attack? Did you ever expect to score 70 points and throw for 700 yards against this outstanding Oklahoma team? Will your entire offensive line return to protect you next year? How does it feel to hand Landry Jones his first bowl loss in four tries? Do you think Damontre Moore will go in the first round? When do you plan to go pro, Johnny? You’re already a third of the way there to tie Corey Pullig’s all-time leading win total as an Aggie QB … when do you expect to catch him? How are you and your girlfriend going to celebrate this record win tonight? Where will you go, by the way? Are y’all hooking up with Romo and Jerry later on? Will you be hosting Saturday
Night Live anytime over the next few weeks? Do you remember Bill Murray? Can you win the Heisman again? How much did you miss Coach, uh, what’s his name, Johnny?”
[One star offensive lineman has already committed to playing in College Station in his senior year]
His legend grows, and as reporters continue to query the young man, his formula for success is finally presented. Johnny reveals that by articulating the letters and numbers of the formula, “3X2(9YZ)4A,” he is instilled with the power of super speed; speeds so fast he is even capable of flying for short distances (what once was referred to as a long jump, but now cubed).
This is when he becomes Johnny “Quick” Manziel. This formula envelops Johnny in an invisible aura that protects his body, helmet and uniform from friction. It grants the anti-gravity powers that enable Johnny to actually fly. That’s right, I didn’t stutter. To revert back to his normal state, Johnny whispers the counter-acting formula, “Z25Y(2AB)6.”
Although he says it’s still a work in progress, he hopes to have it perfected prior to the 2013 season following a few more trips to California to meet with his physics coach.
Fact: Johnny Manziel needs 278 yards running and passing to overtake Baylor’s Nick Florence for No. 1 in the Nation in Total Offense.
Fact: A&M needs over 800 yards to pass Baylor in total offense, but should easily finish in the Top 5 and be one of only four teams nationally to surpass 7,000 yards (currently sitting pretty with 6,628).
Fact: During this bowl season, the highest ranked offense has covered the spread in 68-percent of the games (17-8). Entering the Cotton Bowl matchup, Texas A&M’s offense ranks third in yards per game while Oklahoma ranks 10th. The Aggies are favored by three.
Fact: Both teams are perfect on the road this season and are riding five-game winning streaks.
Fact: The Sooners boast the Big 12’s top pass defense.
Edge: I’d be forgettin’ about the previous quarter century and the ‘Sooners Hex’ and go ahead and have yourself a big ol’ night in Big A, or Big D, or wherever you might end up. When in doubt, call a cab, but beat the hell outta Oklahoma first, even if it takes a game-winning field goal as time expires to do it. We need this win, Taylor Bertolet. You can do it! We’ve even had a place kicker named MVP before in a bowl game; Tony Franklin in the ’77 Sun Bowl! No pressure!!
The next quarter century starts NOW, Ags! Own it!