Take Two: Will Jimbo Fisher turn Texas A&M into a contender?
Take Two returns with a daily offering tackling an issue in the college football landscape. Rivals.com National Recruiting Analyst Adam Gorney lays out the situation and then receives takes from Rivals.com National Recruiting Director Mike Farrell and an expert from the Rivals.com network of team sites or a regional analyst.
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For years, there has been a narrative that Texas A&M was the sleeping giant in college football. The school had money, boosters, facilities – everything needed to become a major powerhouse.
When Jimbo Fisher was hired, the Aggies became convinced it was finally their time to compete for conference championships and maybe even get to the College Football Playoff. It felt like a national championship was possible in College Station.
Two years in, there remain serious questions. After going 9-4 in Fisher’s first season, Texas A&M stumbled to 7-5 this year albeit with one of the toughest schedules in the country. A 50-7 walloping at LSU last weekend might have exposed the distance A&M still has to travel to become a national player.
There are positives though. Recruiting is going well as the Aggies have the fifth-best class nationally. There is a chance A&M could land the top-three in-state players if five-star RB Zachary Evans commits, a first in Rivals' history dating back to 2002.
But quarterback development with Kellen Mond has been non-existent. This season, the Aggies didn’t upset any team, with losses to Clemson, Auburn, Alabama, Georgia and LSU. The Aggies almost lost to lowly Arkansas on a neutral field.
Is there confidence Fisher will still make Texas A&M a national contender or are the Aggies destined for also-ran status in the coming years?
FIRST TAKE: MARK PASSWATERS, AGGIEYELL.COM
“What's gone right for Texas A&M since Jimbo Fisher arrived? They've gotten tougher and are better prepared for the SEC grind. There's only one game in the past two years (albeit the last one) where they were just flat non-competitive. That was commonplace late in the Kevin Sumlin era. Recruiting has gone from good to elite; players like Jace Sternberger and Daylon Mack, who wouldn't have sniffed the NFL otherwise, got drafted last year.
“What hasn't worked? They're still getting beaten by the top rung SEC teams. They've lost games they shouldn't have to Auburn the past two years. Fisher is known as a QB guru, but Mond remains frustratingly inconsistent. His playcalling can be repetitive and stale. Most importantly, the offensive line has been terrible two straight years.
"The prospects of success are obvious as 'his' players -- Jalen Wydermyer, Isaiah Spiller, DeMarvin Leal, Ainias Smith and Demani Richardson -- starred as freshmen, but there's still a lot of work to be done. Fisher wasn't hired to turn this thing around overnight, and he hasn't. But it does seem like he's at least righted the ship and has it going in the right direction.”
SECOND TAKE: MIKE FARRELL, RIVALS.COM
“It takes longer than two years but I just don’t know if they’re going to get there. We’ve heard this before – Texas A&M is the sleeping giant in college football but the Aggies are in the SEC West and the last time I checked, LSU is getting better, Alabama is still elite and Auburn can still beat anybody. I would put Texas A&M fourth in its own division.
“What’s it going to take? Mond hasn’t progressed as expected. I worry quite a bit about the defense as well. If you’re going to base it on the way the Aggies played LSU, this is not a team moving forward. That was an embarrassment and it shows how far away they are from competing with the best teams in the SEC West. It takes more than two years but talk to me again in two years and I don’t know if we’ll be having a different conversation.”