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Aggies’ chalk talk drama could have on-field ramifications

Photo Credit: AP Photo

If you’ve got clear eyes and a full heart you can’t lose. That’s a fact, jack. At least according to Coach Taylor of “Friday Night Lights” fame.

We can’t fairly speculate about the hearts in College Station right now — though someone with far more knowledge on the matter has previously filled us in — but it is worth questioning the collective state of the eyes in Texas A&M’s football program.

Are they clear?

Likely not, because there are a whole lot of distractions circling the Aggies right now, and it couldn’t be happening at a more crucial point of the summer.

Head coach Kevin Sumlin is already on the hot seat — that’s another fact (jack) –but for the next two weeks he’ll be down two assistant coaches. His program is in the news yet again for the wrong reasons, and this time around it’s not just a few players leaving. The sexual innuendo filled “chalk talk” assistants Jim Turner and Jeff Banks put together is an embarrassment to the Texas A&M program and frankly, it could and should be considered a fireable offense.

To make matters worse, Sumlin himself was at the event while it was going down, though apparently he was too busy to see that the “chalk talk” consisted of “advise” like this:

Or this:

“While I was in attendance at the Chalk Talk event this week, I was engaged in meeting participants, taking photographs and signing autographs and I was unaware of the contents of Jim and Jeff’s presentations until this morning,” Sumlin wrote in a statement. “Upon learning of the details, I immediately consulted with Director of Athletics Scott Woodward, and made the decision that both Jim and Jeff will be suspended without pay for two weeks effective immediately and will serve 20 hours of community service. I have addressed the issue with both of them and have their commitment to be better representatives of our program.”

We can talk about how ridiculous, stupid, insensitive and careless this was until we’re blue in the face. We can mention Sumlin’s apparently inability to monitor the culture of his program, and we could even bring up two consecutive 8-5 seasons (after a 11-2 kick off campaign in College Station followed by a 9-4 year) to point out the fact that A&M seems to be trending in the wrong direction under Sumlin, both on and off the field.

Those are all valid points, but fans have a way of taking truth and warping it to either soften the blow of news or simply disregard it. Fan is short for fanatic after-all, so that’s not a rabbit trail this writer wants to travel down, at least right now.

What can’t be argued goes back to the “clear eyes” statement made above, though. Say what you want about Sumlin and his Aggies, but this couldn’t have happened at a worse time.

We’re essentially a month away from the college football season and these next few weeks are easily the most important of the offseason. Yes, spring is big for shaking the dust off and implementing new ideas — not to mention, new players — but it’s the last few weeks of July and first few weeks of August that can really determine a team’s season.

These are the formative weeks of the offseason. Schemes and strategies start coming into place, all-important reps are being had and units should be starting to gel. Team chemistry is a big fall camp buzzword, but the thing many may not realize is the chemistry between an assistant coach and his unit can be just as important as the chemistry between players.

Texas A&M is heading into a crucial stretch of its season prep without its offensive line coach (Turner) and special teams coach (Banks). Sure, Sumlin and his staff can and will figure ways to pick up the slack, but do you really want to be picking up slack with literally weeks to go before a tough season opening matchup against a very game UCLA team?

The offensive line is vital to the success of a football team. Its leader won’t be at practice for the next few weeks. Throw in a new quarterback in Trevor Knight — though he does have experience — and that’s not great news for the Aggies.

Special teams can win or lose a ball game. That unit will be without its leader for the next two weeks. Again, not good news for the Aggies.

According to Coach Taylor — who knows a thing or two about football, ya’ll — you need both clear eyes and a full heart to avoid a loss. All joking aside, Texas A&M is heading into the season on the wrong foot, and perhaps that’s even more dangerous for the Aggies’ chances of success in 2016-17.


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