1. Actually, this has been a pretty good week to be a Texas Aggie fan. The whole Johnny Football phenomenon went national last week. It’s surreal to hear freshman Johnny Manziel on every major national radio sports show from ESPN’s Mike and Mike to the Dan Patrick Show to Jim Rome. Not only did Johnny finally get to meet the media and the nation for the first time, but when Rome spends an entire segment doing a comedy schtick with the Johnny Football YouTube lady you know Texas A&M has finally made the mainstream news cycle. Johnny Football Fever has gone viral. At the Cowboys game last night, the stadium camera found Manziel watching the game in a suite and the stadium erupted in applause. And when he likely wins, expect to see our little freshman QB on The Tonight Show and David Letterman (as much as I wish Johnny wouldn’t waste his time).
2. So we can count on one hand the number of quality bowl match-ups out of the 35 or so bowls in existence today. There’s Notre Dame vs. Alabama, Oregon vs. KSU in the Fiesta, OU vs. Texas A&M in the Cotton, LSU vs. Clemson in the Chick-fil-A, and Michigan vs. South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. The irony here is that only two of the five “good” games are in the BCS series. Wait wasn’t the BCS formed to get us the five best match-ups? This shows the true failure of the BCS, and while there’s a new four-team playoff system coming in 2014, it doesn’t change the systemic flaws that de-values the postseason. The most often used excuse against a comprehensive playoff is that it will de-value the regular season. Well, you’d rather have a completely dysfunctional and worthless postseason? Not me. Only a 16 team playoff will work. You need enough spots to give the mid-majors access to the NCAA title, give each major conference an automatic qualifier, and give all teams in the Top 10 a shot at the title.
3. Speaking of a good week for Aggieland, look what a 10-2 season and a top 10 finish in the SEC does for a school’s recruiting. As expected, the 2014 class has jumped out with a big bang when Top 5 athlete Nick Harvey and the state’s No. 1 RB Shaun Nixon jumped on the maroon wagon. But that’s not the biggest news. That belongs to Georgia’s No. 1 WR prospect Jaquay Williams who picked A&M over South Carolina, Auburn, and Georgia. Earlier in the week, A&M landed JUCO TE Cameron Clear from Tennessee. Can you say national recruiting? Ultimately, that’s why Texas A&M made the move to the SEC, right?
4. Now I get it. I’ll be honest. When A&M played SEC teams in the past, it got under my skin when their fans chanted “SEC, SEC, SEC…” But now that the Aggies are benefitting from the SEC brand, I find myself openly cheering for every SEC team. I get it. While Alabama is A&M’s competitor during the conference race, it benefits A&M and the rest of the SEC when the Crimson Tide rolls Notre Dame to capture a seventh straight national championship. In talking to these recruits, I’ve seen the power of the SEC brand in recruiting. In addition, there’ a pride and a badge of honor playing football in the SEC and it’s something we all want to continue…and it continues with a seventh consecutive national crown. Roll Tide! SEC, SEC, SEC….
5. I don’t have any confirmation yet on the rumors that Toonces the Cat will be driving the University of Texas team bus down to San Antonio for the Alamo Bowl.
6. I know the basketball team has been overshadowed by all the Heisman buzz, but it was also a pretty good week for Billy Kennedy and the hardwood boys. First, the long awaited signing of Colombian phenom Tony Trocha (aka…The Human Fly Swatter) finally came to fruition with the announcement last week. Trocha still may be available to play in the spring semester, but don’t expect a huge breakout performance because he’s raw and he hasn’t practiced with the team. So it will be slow. But, the importance here is perception and a sense of optimism for the future. Second, the Ags garnered a solid 70-59 road win at UH. The Coogs aren’t that good, but they do have some young talent like guard Daniel House. Last year’s team would have lost this game. This is a small step, but it is a step forward. It’s better than losing, right?
7. While SEC football is the bully on the block, SEC basketball is pretty mediocre this season. Kentucky is even young by their standards and losing in Lexington to an unranked Baylor team certainly hurts the conference. Florida is the best team in the SEC and they will make some noise this season, but recent SEC top programs UK and Vanderbilt are down. Mississippi State has been decent in recent years, but they were hammered by graduation and they may be the worst team in the conference. In fact, the west division is atrocious. How bad? The Aggies are arguably the best team, although Mike Anderson and Arkansas could be the best of the mediocre. Unfortunately, the SEC doesn’t do divisions in hoops. Bummer…
8. Speaking of Mike Anderson and Arkansas, a phenomenal streak is in jeopardy this season when Arkansas and A&M face each other twice this season. When former A&M head coach Melvin Watkins was fired almost a decade ago, he was immediately scooped up by Missouri head coach Quin Snyder as an assistant and he remained in place when Mike Anderson was hired. Nine years and two teams later, the Curse of Melvin is still intact. The Aggies are 8-0 against teams where Melvin Watkins is on the opposing bench. Only eight more and A&M will get back to even with Watkins after that farewell 0-16 Big 12 season.
9. It didn’t get much fanfare, but the Aggies and Longhorns faced off for the first time since the SEC move when Laurie Corbelli and the volleyball team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Austin but fell in four sets to the heavily favored Longhorns.
10. Roger Ebert and several high profile movie critics raved over Spielberg’s “Lincoln”. After watching it, I came away impressed with Daniel-Day Lewis’ portrayal of Mr. Lincoln, but I didn’t pay $7.00 to look at Sally Field ramble on and on and on as Mary Todd Lincoln. During one long diatribe, I closed my eyes and dreamed of some classic Flying Nun episodes. I opened my eyes and she was still rambling, so I closed them again and went into Smokey and the Bandit…PG mode. “I’m gonna catch you, you scum bum!!!”