All That and a Bag of Mail: It’s Kevin Sumlin’s World Y’all

Oct 26, 2013; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies head coach Kevin Sumlin argues a call against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the first half at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports Thomas Campbell USA TODAY Sports

College football’s back!

And so is the mailbag. 

Our beaver pelt trader of the week is A&M’s Kenny Hill. From passing out outside Chimy’s in March to passing for 511 yards on the road against a top ten opponent, that’s what I call a bounce back performance. 

On to the mailbag. 

A ton of you:

“How about Texas A&M?”

You can’t understate how impressive this win is. It’s not possible. Very, very rarely do SEC teams go on the road and beat a top ten team by over three touchdowns. It almost never happens in this league. That’s why the best example of what happened in this game is the blackout game, Alabama at Georgia, back in 2008. Alabama rushed to a 31-0 halftime lead and everyone sort of said, “Holy hell.” That’s the night that the 85% truly began to take over Alabama’s fan base. Because that’s the night that Alabama’s dynasty began. Sure, the Tide lost the final two games of the 2008 season, but they served notice in Nick Saban’s second year that they’d arrived. It was the Georgia game on the road that started it all.  

It may sound ridiculously presumptive right now, but that game is what I thought of as I watched last night’s game. I think this was a dynasty kind of win for Kevin Sumlin’s program. Several years from now I believe we’ll point back to this win as evidence of the program’s ascension. I know, I know, two years ago A&M went on the road and beat Alabama, but while that game was a surprise, it wasn’t a total beat down. A&M caught Alabama coming off the tough road win at LSU, jumped out to an early lead and then hung on for the win. Even to A&M fans that game felt like an upset. For instance, if A&M and Alabama had played that 2012 game back in a bowl, does anyone really doubt that Alabama would still be favored by a touchdown or more and would probably win? 

I don’t. 

This win felt different. Is there anyone on earth who feels like this was an upset? I don’t. Neither do you. If A&M could go into Williams-Brice in front of a raucous Gamecock home fan and hang fifty on them, A&M would beat South Carolina pretty much anywhere these two teams play. Hell, if you take away two awful busted coverages in the first half — the ghost of A&M’s 2013 defense lives! — South Carolina did almost nothing in the first half. Then, after “halftime adjustments” A&M came right back out and continued the drubbing.

What made this win so amazing was that this was supposed to be A&M’s step back year, where they developed all the young talent they had and established the foundation for a future run. Hell, if I do a Google search right now I can probably find a billion threads on Texas message boards talking about how A&M just got lucky with Johnny Manziel, Sumlin was overrated, and the Aggies would fall back into oblivion now. So much for that narrative. Dynasties never take a step back, they just reload. That’s why I believe this was Sumlin’s dynasty win. On the road at South Carolina was Sumlin’s answer to Nick Saban at Georgia in 2008. 

For a long time I’ve been writing that A&M was a sleeping giant. Last night A&M woke up. Let’s toss that sleeping adjective on the scrap heap, A&M’s just a damn giant now.  

By the way, who was the asshole you told everyone to take the under at 60? Man, that guy sucks. Y’all should hate him. 

Justin writes:

“Does last night’s Vanderbilt’s performance ironically cement James Franklin’s tenure at Vandy as one of the best in SEC history? Sure it did not have SEC or national titles, but Vanderbilt won back to back bowl games and beat Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee in the same season. l do think Franklin struck lightning in a bottle with Jordan Matthews and Derek Dooley being in the same state at the same time, but with each passing Vanderbilt game will James Franklin’s status become greater and greater?”

James Franklin should walk into his athletic director’s Ireland hotel room today and demand a raise. That’s how much this loss helped his reputation.

On the flip side, what about Derek Mason? Losing by thirty at home to Temple, a 2-10 team last year? Holy hell. That’s one of the worst coaching debuts of all time. I asked you guys on Twitter to give me your worst coaching debuts ever. Your best nominees: Colorado’s Dan Hawkins lost to Montana State. Texas A&M’s Mike Sherman lost to Arkansas State, Georgia’s Jim Donnan lost 11-7 to Southern Miss.

All of those are pretty awful. And all of those coaches were failures too. (Chip Kelly lost on the road at Boise State, but that BSU team was really good.)  

But the worst debut loss of all-time is South Florida’s Willie Taggart losing at home 53-21 to McNeese State.

Given how awful the opponent was, there’s no doubt that Mason’s 30 point loss to Temple was one of the top five worst coaching debuts of the modern era.

Chris K. writes:

“WVU beats Alabama. Clint Trickett blows a kiss at Nick Saban.

What happens next?”

Alabama’s 85% goes to war with West Virginia. 

I don’t see any other possible outcome.

(By the way, we need Outkick readers to send us the best pictures of fans from the WVU-Bama game. I feel like this is going to be amazing. You can email or Tweet them). 

Nate H. writes:

“As a South Carolina fan, I’m devastated after last night’s collapse. I honestly can’t remember seeing us miss that many tackles and fail to make that many plays in space. But that’s beside the point. My question pertains to Spurrier. Many, including myself, seemed to think this year was his best shot at returning to Atlanta. Now it looks like Carolina will be 1-2 at the end of week 3, with roadtrips to Auburn and Florida still upcoming. Should/will Spurrier retire at the end of this year? After three impressive years of barely missing out, does a mediocre season finally take the wind out of his coaching sails?”

It’s astounding how one big college football loss can totally change the narrative. Coming into this game we were all asking whether Spurrier would coach long enough to catch Bear Bryant. Now we’re asking whether he will retire. I don’t think South Carolina’s awful, I think they just ran into the A&M buzzsaw. Hell, if in two weeks the Gamecocks found a way to beat Georgia, South Carolina would still be in decent shape to win the east. Remember back in 2012 when South Carolina destroyed Georgia, Aaron Murray’s house got egged, and by the end of the season Georgia had won the east and was throwing into the end zone with a chance to play for the national title? A national title, by the way, that they would have won over Notre Dame?

A ton can change from week to week in college football. 

Having said that, I think Carolina ends up 8-4 this year. 

Doug H. writes:

“Clay,

Last night was not pleasant for Vanderbilt. As a Vandy fan, should I feel like I divorced Kate Upton and married Susan Boyle?

Also, Vandy plays Ole Miss at LP Field next weekend. With the amount of bridges in the immediate footprint of LP Field, should metro police keep crisis negotiators on call all day saturday? When Ole Miss gets done with us, l’m worried that we could lose half of our fan base with fans wanting to jump in the cumberland river.”

I think it’s worse than divorcing Upton and marrying Boyle. This is like your hot wife leaving you for a more successful guy, you’re dejected and inconsolable for months, and when you finally get the strength to go back out on a date, the first woman who sleeps with post-abandonment gives you herpes. 

As for Ole Miss, it would be the most Ole Miss thing possible for the Rebels to lose to Vandy a week after Temple beat the Dores by thirty. I’m not saying it’s going to happen — hell, I’m not willing to bet on Vandy to beat anyone in FBS right now — just that this would be the most Ole Miss move possible. 

Also, the continuing war between good Bo Wallace and bad Bo Wallace is one of the most entertaining spectacles to watch if you don’t happen to be an Ole Miss fan. How can a senior quarterback be this erratic? Three interceptions in the first half followed by four touchdown passes in the second half. Watching Bo Wallace play quarterback is like trying to potty train a kid. Just when you think he’s got it all figure out he craps his pants in the mall. 

Ben H. writes:

“After watching Kenny Hill play, should Cleveland Brown fans be nervous that Johnny Manziel’s not as good as we all thought he was?”

Kenny Hill was fabulous — and I think he’ll be great all year — but I think we need to start giving Sumlin and his staff praise for their coaching acumen with quarterbacks. Everyone they put in at quarterback is going to put up big numbers in this system. It sort of reminds me, ironically enough, of when Steve Spurrier was unstoppable at Florida. Spurrier had Noah Brindise out there passing for 200 yards and I’m not sure Noah Brindise even had arms.  

Stu Mandel and I were talking last night about how Sumlin and Gus Malzahn are the new Spurriers. Their offenses are just way ahead of the defenses right now. Everyone who talks about the SEC being a defensive league forgets all about the 1990’s when Spurrier came into a boring, staid offensive era and just changed everything. Malzahn and Sumlin are doing that right now.  

Matthew E. writes:

“Three years ago James Franklin addressed the media after a game with Georgia and an argument with Georgia DC Todd Grantham. As I recall, you called it the Gettysburg Address of Vanderbilt Football at the time. That statement proved to be correct. Vanderbilt went on to go to bowl that year and went 9-4 two straight years after that.

Obviously James Franklin left and heralded coordinator Derek Mason took over. And then Temple happened. Is this the day Vanderbilt Football died, again? Have you ever in your life seen so much momentum, changing of a culture, excitement in a fan base, etc. come crashing down so fast?

As a life long Vanderbilt fan, I feel as if all hope is completely lost and quite possibly forever. Can Vanderbilt recover or does it take us another 20 years?”

Last night was Vanderbilt’s Pickett’s Charge. I think y’all are headed for a long, dark winter of trench warfare, the Petersburg of college football. Before the season I was confident that Vandy would beat Kentucky. Now I don’t feel like any game is a definite win. 

As we noted above, it’s almost impossible to find more of a collapse over two games — from dominating a bowl game to win your ninth game for the second consecutive year to losing a football game by thirty points to Temple. 

You know it was bad when your best offensive play of the night was AD David Williams producing an email allowing Anchor Down on the back of the uniforms. 

Marlin W. writes:

“I expect you tee off on Cumulus……but my friends and I are wondering, there has to be more to the story, no business shuts down a highly profitable product over a few $ (your raise).

Just doesn’t make good business sense.

I hope your next mailbag includes an expanded piece on your current situation with and future plans in radio.”

I got a ton of questions on leaving 3HL. I want to reiterate my thanks to everyone who listened to 3HL, to my crew on 3HL, and to everyone in management in Nashville. We had a great run and they’re a very good group. The only further details I could give you is that Cumulus offered me a three year contract extension. The first year had a $5k raise, the second year had a $2k raise and the third year had a $3k raise. So the first year raise was actually the big one! And all that first year raise added to my salary was $20 a day pre-tax.

Making this even funnier, we charge $5k for a single remote. So I’m worth one remote to the local gas station. I mean, the whole thing was just laughable to me. Thanks to Outkick and TV I’m fortunate enough to have the financial flexibility to reject absurdly low offers from companies making millions of dollars off my labor. But here’s a lesson to you, if you make millions for a large corporation, most of them still don’t care about you.  

I think the error in your judgment is in believing that big businesses don’t make stupid business decisions. They do it all the time. As for an update, I will be back on the air in Nashville — and beyond — before too long. I think you guys will be very happy with what’s coming. That’s all I can say for now. 

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.