Is this Texas A&M’s Decade of Dysfunction?

By Mark Nagi

I hope that Tennessee fans realize that they are smack dab in the middle of the good ‘ol days.

The football team has won 20 games in the last two seasons, including two bowl games. The men’s basketball team got to the Elite 8 for only the second time in program history. The softball team won the SEC two years in a row.

And to top it all off, the baseball team just pulled off the treble. SEC regular season title. SEC tournament title. National championship.

All 20 Tennessee sports made it to the postseason, with 11 ending the year ranked in the top 10 nationally, and six of those sports in the top 5. Tennessee finished third in the 2023-2024 LEARFIELD Directors’ Cup standings.

If you were to tell someone during the Greg Schiano Fiasco of 2017 that Tennessee would be near the top of the heap in collegiate athletics less than 7 years later, you would have been laughed out of the building.

But that’s where we stand.

And it looks like another SEC program is taking the mantle of dysfunction. Have you paid attention to what’s been happening at Texas A&M lately?

Let’s start with baseball. Texas A&M fell to the Vols 2 games to 1 in the finals, and 6-5 in the deciding game 3. Nothing at all to be ashamed of. They were the second-best team in the country.

But immediately after the game, the cracks in that foundation showed themselves. Aggies head coach Jim Schlossnagle was asked by a reporter about a job opening that had just been made public. Texas A&M’s most hated rival and now SEC teammate, Texas was on the market for a new head coach.

“I took the job at Texas A&M to never take another job again,” Schlossnagle said.

Less than 24 hours later, Schlossnagle accepted the head coaching job at the University of Texas.

The reaction from College Station was filled with vitriol and brought back memories of the Lane Kiffin defection in 2010.

“I knew this would be a controversial move, leaving Texas A&M for Texas,” Schlossnagle told the Fort Worth-Star Telegram. “But I didn’t anticipate the venom that my family, our staff, and their families have received. Death threats, endless text messages, and other things. I do believe that most Aggies are really good people, and I have heard many positive things from many of them, but the vocal minority certainly has been aggressive, to say the least.”

Texas A&M has a lot of money. And they aren’t afraid to spend it. So, they reportedly offered Tennessee head coach Tony Vitello big money to leave the Vols.

He declined, and that should not be a surprise. Tennessee baseball is obviously rolling, the stadium continues to get upgrades, and he will soon get an extension that makes him one of the highest-paid coaches in the sport.

Texas A&M named Aggies assistant coach Michael Earley to replace him, but the damage was done.

With football season just around the corner, let’s remember the problems facing the Aggies.

In mid-November, Texas A&M fired Jimbo Fisher. His buyout was $77.6 million. Yes, the Aggies are paying Fisher what is the equivalent of the GDP of Peru not to coach their team.

Making things worse, they tried to hire Kentucky’s Mark Stoops, but depending on who you listen to either he turned them down or the Aggies never offered him the job.  Either way, if you can’t get the Kentucky coach, your coaching search isn’t going well.

They settle on Duke’s Mike Elko, but who knows how it’ll work out.

Texas A&M has been in the SEC since 2012. They made an immediate impact in football thanks to Johnny Manziel, but is there any reason to believe they’ll make noise in the conference this year?

Trev Alberts took over as AD, replacing Ross Bjork who left for Ohio State.  Can Albert turn things around at Texas A&M?  He better.  Otherwise, their decade of dysfunction is going to pick up steam.