Trouble at A&M

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is on the hot seat. Should he be?

Things are not good in Aggie Land. Bob Levey/Getty Images

Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is probably on the hottest seat in college football right now. With a disastrous collapse to open the season at UCLA, followed by lackluster efforts against inferior opponents, things are not good in Aggie Land.

It is easy to look at recent history and say Sumlin's job should be on the line, but looking at the big picture, should it be?

Sumlin took over a program that had not won 11 games since 1998 and promptly went 11-2. He followed that up with a nine-win season and three eight win seasons. The last time that happened at A&M? You have to go all the way back to 1989-1994, when the Aggies won at least eight games every year. Then went on probation. That Sumlin has done it in the SEC is even more impressive.

But the Aggies rightfully expect more. They spend as much as anyone, have a fertile recruiting base and expect results. And Sumlin has had some rough moments, losing several top QB prospects to transfers. (In Week 3, two of his former QBs, Kenny Hill and Kyle Allen, lit it up for their new teams. Hill was 24 of 30 for 365 and four touchdowns for TCU in a win over SMU, while Allen was 31 of 33 for 309 yards and two TDs as Houston clubbed Rice).

Meanwhile, A&M seems to be stuck with Kellen Mond, a highly regarded recruit who is a terrific athlete but is not a reliable passer, despite solid numbers himself that week.

Throw in a controversy over assistant coaches last year, and it all adds up to trouble in College Station. 

So what has to happen for Sumlin? There is still time to turn it around, but the SEC schedule looms and the Aggies could easily implode. If that happens, the decision is easy. But what if they manage eight wins again? Will that be good enough for the A&M community? Probably not. And the next question becomes who out there is better? Chip Kelly if he wants to come back to college? Maybe Chad Morris is ready for the leap? Les Miles and his lack of offense? There might not be a better answer than what is already on campus.

None of that may matter. Sumlin's seat is on fire, and putting out the flames might be impossible at this stage.

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Should Watson be in the MVP conversation? Composite image by Jack Brame.

The 2020 NFL season has a lot going on. Even if we take the coronavirus out of it, there's still a lot to digest. There are so many great performances being put up, one can make an argument for several players to win league MVP. The quarterback position typically gets more credit than others. If I restrict the argument to quarterbacks only, we're looking at Russell Wilson, Patrick Mahomes, and Aaron Rodgers. Dalvin Cook, Alvin Kamara, and Derrick Henry are the leading contenders at running back. On defense, there really isn't a standout defender. The defense gets no love, but there are several guys in the running for NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

Deshaun Watson has been putting up numbers that have matched or rivaled some of the top MVP candidates over his last seven games. That stretch has coincided with the firing of head coach/general manager Bill O'Brien. Coincidence? I think not. Taking the reigns off a wild horse can often lead to said horse running free and flourishing! So question: Should Watson be getting league MVP considerations? I think so.

For starters, he's been one of the best players in the league over the course of the last seven games. 18 passing touchdowns and only two interceptions. The only quarterback with a better touchdown to interception ratio over that same span is Mahomes (19 and 2, as opposed to Watson's 18 & 2). Factoring in total season stats, of course Mahomes is doing much better. He's on a better team with a much better coach and general manager. The same could be said for Wilson and Rodgers. Put Watson on any of those teams and their records wouldn't be any worse than what they are now.

The Texans are 4-3 since firing O'Brien. While that isn't a great record, consider the fact they started the season 0-4 and looked like a total disaster. Watson looked like he was caged and couldn't wait to be freed. The team's record could be even better if the defense had a pulse. The proper supporting cast has a lot to do with a player's MVP candidate's chances. Now that one of his favorite weapons, Will Fuller, and the team's best corner, Bradley Roby, are both suspended for the rest of the season by the league for violating the substance abuse/PED policy, things will get much tougher for Watson.

If he continues to put up these cartoon like numbers, I don't see why he wouldn't be in the MVP conversation. He's currently fopurth in passing yards, sixth in completion percentage, tied for fifth in passing touchdowns, eighth in QBR, and third in quarterback rating. Watson is emerging as the star he was projected to be coming into the 2017 draft. I'm not saying Watson deserves to be the league MVP, but he deserves to be in the conversation. His MVP candidacy should be treated like the family gathering hierarchy: once you reach a certain age and/or status, you're no longer resigned to the kiddie table. Now you get to sit with all the adults, engage in their conversations, and gain access to things you couldn't previously. Watson won't win the MVP award, but I strongly believe he could finish top five. Especially if he keeps making lemonade with the lemons he's been given.

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