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Three-Point Stance: Aggies opt out, fizzled hires, All-Disrespected team

Rivals national columnist Mike Farrell is here with his thoughts on Texas A&M opting out of its bowl game, a look at some can’t-miss hires that missed and a breakdown of offensive players that didn't get the respect they deserved in 2021.


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Jimbo Fisher
Jimbo Fisher (USA Today Sports Images)

C’mon, Aggies. This is not cool. Wake Forest had a great season by its standards to earn a berth in the Gator Bowl. Texas A&M, meanwhile, was a bit of a disappointment with an 8-4 mark. And the disappointment continued Wednesday with the news that the Aggies were backing out of the Gator Bowl due to a combination of COVID-19 protocols, opt outs and season-ending injuries leaving them extremely short-handed. Now the Demon Deacons are left swaying in the breeze? This is not cool.

Texas A&M athletic director Ross Bjork says that the Aggies were down to 38 available scholarship players. While this number seems very low to me, I won’t question it. However, I will question why the Aggies don’t play walk-ons and still give it a try. Mike Leach and Mississippi State gave Georgia a game last season with barely 40 scholarship players, and LSU beat Florida on the road last year with fewer than 50. Had this been a 10-2 season and a more prominent bowl or a CFB Playoff semifinal, would Texas A&M be singing a different tune?

Players opting out to protect their NFL future is one thing but an entire program bailing because it would likely get drilled seems like a bad precedent to set.





Tom Herman
Tom Herman (USA Today Sports Images)

Last week I graded the new Power Five coaching hires and gave out very high grades to Brian Kelly at LSU, Lincoln Riley at USC and Mario Cristobal at Miami. But it got me to thinking — what recent can't-miss hires actually ended up being misses? Here are five huge hires that either fizzled badly or are still trying to live up to the hype.

Charlie Strong, Texas - Strong is considered one of the all-time good guys in college football. Unfortunately, being a good guy doesn't mean you'll be successful. When he was hired at Texas in 2014, he was coming off of a strong four-year run at Louisville that saw him go 37-15, with back-to-back top-15 finishes in the country. But he didn't quite fit at UT and struggled with big expectations. He didn't have a winning season in three years in Austin and was fired for the next coach on the list.

Tom Herman, Texas - Herman was one of the hottest names in coaching in 2017, after two strong seasons at Houston (including a 13-1 campaign in 2015 when he led the Cougars to a Peach bowl win), as well as the residual glow from guiding Ohio State's offense in 2014 to the inaugural CFP title. But he never quite fit in Texas, either, and the marriage went stale after four seasons. This was even more odd than Strong as Herman at least had strong recruiting ties to Texas.

Scott Frost, Nebraska - Bringing a famed alum back to coach a team is always a double-edged sword. The quarterback of the Cornhuskers' 1997 national title team, Frost was poised to be the conquering hero after an outstanding run at UCF where he guided the Golden Knights to an undefeated season in 2017. But it's been an unmitigated disaster since he returned to Lincoln – in four seasons, he has yet to even make a bowl game and is 15 games under .500 in conference play. It's a small miracle that he wasn't fired after this season.

Dan Mullen, Florida - It was considered a coup for the Gators when they got Mullen to return to Florida after a strong nine seasons at Mississippi State, where he got the Bulldogs to eight consecutive bowl games. He had been the offensive coordinator for two national title teams, and it was expected that he would be able to get the Gators back to national prominence. But he showed a distinct lack of concern for recruiting and the wheels completely fell off this season, finishing an abysmal 2-6 in conference play. Now the brass in Gainesville has turned to Billy Napier to pick up the pieces.

Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M - When Texas A&M gave him one of the biggest contracts in college football history in 2017, the Aggies were expecting him to push them into college football's elite class. After all, he was able to win a national title at Florida State. Four years in, he hasn't finished higher than second in the SEC West, and has at least four losses in every year besides the strange 2020 season. Yes, the Aggies beat Alabama this year, but they also lost to Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and that LSU team. Fisher is bringing in outstanding recruiting classes, but that hasn't manifested on the field consistently yet.



Brennan Armstrong
Brennan Armstrong (USA Today Sports Images)

Finally, we hear about the big names in Power Five college football all the time but what about the ones who don’t get the respect they deserve. Here’s my Rodney Dangerfield (I’m aging myself) first-team offense.

QB: Brennan Armstrong, Virginia - Armstrong went largely under the radar this season because of the outstanding play of Kenny Pickett and Sam Hartman within his own conference as well as the hype around Sam Howell. But Armstrong put up some staggering numbers of his own. He finished third in the nation with 4,444 passing yards and had 31 touchdowns through the air while adding another nine on the ground. The junior quarterback will have a chance to be in the Heisman discussion next season.

RB: Tyler Badie, Missouri - Badie finished the season second among Power Five in rushing yards with 1,604, just 32 yards behind Kenneth Walker, and added 14 touchdowns. He was the engine for a Mizzou team that was up and down all season.

RB: Sean Tucker, Syracuse - Tucker was one of the quietest big-time performers all season, rushing for nearly 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns for a Syracuse team that nearly made a bowl game. He's one of the main reasons that Dino Babers still has a job.

WR: David Bell, Purdue - Bell singlehandedly destroyed Iowa when the Hawkeyes were ranked No. 2 in the country, going off for 11 catches and 240 yards. He finished the season ninth in the country in receptions (93) and yards (1,286), leading the Big Ten in both categories.

WR: Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Ohio State - While Garrett Wilson and Chris Olave get almost all the publicity, it was actually Smith-Njigba who led the team in yards with 1,259. With both of those guys off to the NFL next season, he'll be the No. 1 guy.

WR: Josh Downs, North Carolina - The Tar Heels did not live up to expectations this season, but it's no fault of Downs, who was among the best receivers in the country this season. His 98 catches were tied for third-most in the country, and he finished with 1,273 yards, second in the ACC behind Biletnikoff winner Jordan Addison.

TE: Greg Dulcich, UCLA - When people talk about the Bruins' offense, they start and end with the rushing attack, but they forget about the big tight end who was instrumental in getting UCLA back over .500 for the first time in half a decade. The junior had 42 catches for 725 yards and five touchdowns, and was the safety blanket for Dorian Thompson-Robinson.

OT: Cooper Beebe, Kansas State - Beebe was arguably the best tackle in the Big 12 this season, not allowing a single sack all season and only nine total pressures.

OT: Braeden Daniels, Utah - Daniels is an absolute mauler for the Utes, paving the way for their rushing attack, no matter who is getting carries. He finished sixth among all Power Five offensive linemen in run blocking grade and garnering a first-team all-conference nod.

OG: Caleb Chandler, Louisville - He doesn't get the publicity of some of his conference mates, but he finished third among all Power Five guards in PFF's rating system, allowing only one QB hit and six total pressures on 416 pass-blocking snaps.

OG: Andrew Vorhees, USC - The Trojans did not have a banner season by any stretch of the imagination, but Vorhees had a fantastic year on the interior, grading out as PFF's top guard among Power Five players. He was the only player in the country to get higher than a 90 in both pass blocking and run blocking, allowing only one sack on 544 pass-blocking snaps.

C: Joe Tippmann, Wisconsin - While Tyler Linderbaum gets all of the accolades for Big Ten linemen (and rightfully so), the first-year starter on the Badgers' offensive line was outstanding from beginning to end.