CHARLIE PALLILO

On Jimbo Fisher at Texas A&M and Alex Bregman's emergence

Alex Bregman has become a star in short order. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

NFL preseason games are done. Mercifully. If Deshaun Watson stays healthy and the Texans don’t win at least nine games, Bill O’Brien’s contract extension looks ridiculous.

The college football season is underway (yay!) with everyone chasing Alabama. It appears that again this year no Texas schools are top tier national factors, though TCU could change that if it beats Ohio State in a couple of weeks.

Major Applewhite begins his second as head coach at UH, after disappointing results in his first season on the job. Tom Herman begins his second season as head coach at UT, after disappointing results in his first season on the job.

So how will the results be scored for Jimbo Fisher’s first season on the job at Texas A&M? The Aggies paid through several noses to buy hope, in guaranteeing Jimbo a jumbo 75 million dollars over 10 years. Fisher had an outstanding run at Florida State including a national championship, but over the last three years Clemson’s program vaulted clearly past FSU’s. That Fisher inevitably restores the Ags to consistent national prominence? Nope. It’s like the Raiders paying absurd money to Jon Gruden. Maybe it works.

Nick Saban’s latest raise and extension at Alabama takes him through the 2025 season. That covers eight years of Fisher’s deal. LSU probably needs a better head coach than Ed Orgeron, but that’s an SEC West program with as many fundamentals going for it as A&M has.

It was a pressure-free debut for Fisher with a 59-7 glorified scrimmage win over Northwestern State. Next week it’s Clemson at Kyle Field, then two weeks later the Aggies are at Alabama. An Ag win in either of those and some may want to already order the Jimbo statue. It’s more likely that Fisher’s first Aggie squad produces the Kevin Sumlin special (five losses) than it flirts with a top 10 finish. 8-5, even 9-4 probably ends the Jimbo-Aggieland honeymoon. The marriage will last a while and should have ample “happily” if not “ever after.” It’s a crazy-high bar, but given the contract terms Fisher must take the Aggies to the playoff within his first five years or he won’t have been worth the money.

Bregman emerges

There is no question at this point that a season after Jose Altuve was the American League Most Valuable Player, Alex Bregman is the Most Valuable Astro of 2018.  A little over two years ago Alex Bregman began his major league career by going 0 for his first 17 at bats, and two for his first 38. Now, just those two years and change later Alex Bregman is an MVP candidate. Not a top tier candidate to win it, but a guy who should turn up on every American League ballot. The MVP ballot includes 10 spots. The only AL guys definitely better this season have been Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, and Jose Ramirez. Bregman is in the next group with Francisco Lindor, Matt Chapman, and J.D. Martinez. Bregman is younger than all those other guys.

Bregman is on pace to finish this season scoring more than 100 runs and driving in more than 100 runs. Only six different Astros have done 100/100.  Name them? Five of the six? Four? Answer below as Buzzer Beater number one. Bregman could parlay 50-plus doubles with 30 home runs. Lance Berkman is the only Astro to amass 50/30 in the same season.

Defensively, once settled in after committing too many early season errors, Bregman to the eye plays a Gold Glove level third base. The analytics suggest he has been average at best. That seems ridiculous. Maybe it isn’t, but maybe it’s proof that defensive analysis has come a long way but still has a way to go.

And the whole post-homer camera stare thing is tremendous.

Remember, the only reason the Astros have Bregman is because they clumsily failed to sign high school pitcher Brady Aiken after taking Aiken with the first overall pick in the 2014 draft. The Astros got spooked by the medical check, low balled Aiken with their offer, then just before the signing deadline jacked back up their offer to Aiken. He told the Astros to take a hike. Aiken turned down five million dollars. As compensation for not signing the first pick in the draft, the Astros were given the second pick in the 2015 draft. Hello Alex Bregman.

Aiken went 17th in 2015 to Cleveland, signing for just over two and a half mil. His minor league record is  7-18 with a 5.05 earned run average. Coming off of Tommy John surgery, Aiken hasn’t pitched at all this year.

Buzzer Beaters

1. Wynn, Bagwell, Alou, Bell, Berkman, Hidalgo.  2. Man is Carlos Correa messed up at the plate right now.  3. Best college football head coaches in Texas: Bronze-Tom Herman  Silver-Jimbo Fisher Gold-Gary Patterson.

 

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Let him cook! Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

The Houston Rockets are in the midst of a rebuild. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr are studs. KPJ just signed a four-year extension with the team. Other guys like Jabari Smith Jr, Kenyon Martin Jr, Alperen Sengun, Josh Christopher, Tari Eason, and Jae'Sean Tate are really good pieces to surround Green and KPJ with. The only issue with this group: they're REALLY young! Tate is the elder statesman at 27 of the young nucleus. Most are barely old enough to buy a drink. Some still aren't old enough! They're a bunch of green bananas waiting to turn yellow to slightly brown and be ripe enough for consumption.

We need to give it time. Just like bananas, they take time to ripen. Coach Stephen Silas is known for developing young players. His most prized student is the star player for that team in South Oklahoma up 45. Number 77 for that team credited Silas with helping him realize his All-Pro potential while Silas was a part of the coaching staff there. To a man, all his former players credit him with being a positive influence on their careers. So why are fans in a rush to get rid of him?

When you look at the Rockets' record over the last few years, it's gross. Sure, they've been a lottery team the last couple of seasons, but that was by design. As part of the Chris Paul and Russell Westbrook trades, they gave away pick swap rights. Had they not been that bad, they wouldn't have been able to draft Green or Smith Jr. Those two guys are building blocks for the future, along with KPJ. Giving those picks away would've put this team further down the totem pole of developing themselves into a contender. Losing pays off when you can hit on high lottery picks.

If you give a chef dirt, bread, ham, molded cheese, and spoiled mayo, can you expect anything else but a nasty ham sandwich? How about if the chef was given a steak that is almost rotten, potatoes with root growth, and spoiled butter? Could you expect a better meal than the sandwich? Yes! However, that meal may still cause a stomachache. Now, give said chef a full complement of gourmet groceries and guess what you'll get?

This is why I say let Silas cook. He's the perfect coach for this group of kids. He can teach them all the fundamentals of the game at this level and help them grow into their full potential. If there's a change to be made on the sidelines, move Silas into a front office role, but DO NOT get rid of him! Guys like him are too valuable. Why do you think Mark Cuban hated losing him, but knew he couldn't retain him because he had a head coach already? Cuban knew what he had in Silas and what Silas did for Luka Doncic. He can do something similar for the Rockets if given the time to work his magic.

Should Tilman Fertita find the need to move on, I'd look for a more experienced coach who can guide them from bottom of the playoff ladder into top four in the West and real contenders. For now, Silas is the head chef. Continue giving him the groceries he needs, and he'll continue giving these kids the lessons they need to develop. Changing the coach now could stunt their growth. Let him cook!

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