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Blowout Loss Signals End is Near for Sumlin

By Matt Smith
SouthernPigskin.com
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A battle of 5-2 SEC West maroon-clad teams was expected to be competitive, but Mississippi State strolled into College Station and completely overwhelmed the Aggies, rolling to a 35-14 victory – its first ever at Kyle Field.

Labor Day weekend had seemed like much longer than the eight weeks ago that it is.

With six wins and a one-score loss to No. 1 Alabama, Texas A&M had washed away much of the blood that arose from blowing a 34-point lead in a 45-44 loss to UCLA in the season opener. The Aggies appeared on their way to potentially winning 10 games for the first time since Johnny Manziel’s Heisman Trophy-winning 2012 season.

Then, Saturday night happened.

A battle of 5-2 SEC West maroon-clad teams was expected to be competitive, but Mississippi State strolled into College Station and completely overwhelmed the Aggies, rolling to a 35-14 victory – its first ever at Kyle Field.

The Bulldogs held Texas A&M to just 96 yards on the ground, and 272 in total, many of which came after the outcome was long decided and many of the 100,000 Aggies backers had called it a night.

Now, the question must be asked, it is time for Texas A&M and Kevin Sumlin to part ways?

Sumlin’s job status has been called into question externally for the past couple years, but his future was internally put in doubt by athletic director Scott Woodward in May. No. 19 Auburn comes to College Station next week, where it hasn’t lost since the Aggies joined the SEC. The Tigers are better in all three phases than the Aggies, so Texas A&M could very well find itself a 5-4 a week from now – its worst nine-game start to a season under Sumlin. A loss to Auburn would drop Sumlin to a sub-par 8-14 record in SEC home games.

The renovations made to Kyle Field, completed prior to the 2014 season, were done to ensure it was one of the most hostile atmospheres in the country. The expectations were that the heavy costs would pay off with victories. That hasn’t happened, as the Aggies dropped their fourth straight game at home to an SEC West opponent on Saturday night. In division games against teams other than Arkansas, a team that for some reason Texas A&M has a magic hex over, the Aggies have now lost 10 of their last 11.

Despite the strong turnaround from the UCLA loss, I’ve always felt it would be best for Sumlin to voluntarily move on, even if the school did not want to make a change. After Saturday night, both sides should be aligned with what their future holds, and it doesn’t involve the two parties being together after this season.

Sumlin can make major staff changes and hope for a Notre Dame-like turnaround in 2018, but more likely than not, it would just be a band-aid. Aggies fans are as passionately supportive as any fanbase in college football, but the situation is developing the toxicity that we’re seeing at Tennessee – where Butch Jones could be dismissed at any moment.

Saturday night’s sizable fall backwards after the slow buildback from the collapse in Pasadena was disheartening for both sides. There had still been hope that this rocky marriage could be reconciled, but another poor performance in a game against a comparable opponent likely changed that thinking.

Texas A&M can win big. Kevin Sumlin can win big. They just won’t ever be doing it together. Next Labor Day weekend, a new face should be strolling the Texas A&M sidelines.

Matt Smith - Matt is a 2007 graduate of Notre Dame and has spent most of his life pondering why most people in the Mid-Atlantic actually think there are more important things than college football. He has blogged for College Football News, covering both national news as well as Notre Dame and the service academies. He credits Steve Spurrier and Danny Wuerffel for his love of college football and tailgating at Florida, Tennessee, and Auburn for his love of sundresses. Matt covers the ACC as well as the national scene.