It was a tough season in College Station. Texas A&M finished with a 6-6, good enough to get head coach Mike Sherman fired. But on closer inspection, the Aggies were much better than their .500 record suggests. Here are the 6 losses they suffered this season, sorted by The Power Rank.
3. Oklahoma State, lost by 1
7. Oklahoma, lost by 16
12. Arkansas, lost by 4
18. Kansas State, lost by 3
19. Missouri, lost by 7
28. Texas, lost by 2
Texas A&M only lost close games to highly ranked opponents. Since our algorithm considers margin of victory and strength of schedule, we rank the Aggies at 13th, 13.2 points better than the average bowl subdivision team (this year, Washington State). They suffered from playing in college football’s best conference. Big 12 teams had an average rating of 9.32, better than the 8.75 of the SEC. However, coaches are judged by wins and losses. Sherman lost his job when Texas quarterback Case McCoy scrambled for 25 yards to set up a game winning field goal.
However, the folly of firing Sherman becomes more clear if we look at Texas A&M’s year end rating since 1998.
First, Texas A&M was trending upward this season despite the poor record. While a change from 9-4 to 6-6 usually suggests a worse team, The Power Rank thinks otherwise. Second, those two huge downward spikes came in the first year of a new head coach. The Aggies fired record setting coach R.C. Slocum to bring in Dennis Franchione at the start of the 2003 season. They finished 4-8 and got hammered 77-0 at Oklahoma. Sherman took over from Franchione in 2008 and posted a… you guessed it, a 4-8 record. Texas A&M lost to Arkansas State at home that year.
In 2012, Texas A&M will join with SEC with new coach Kevin Sumlin, who recently led Houston to the brink of an undefeated season. The Aggies will lose quarterback Ryan Tanneyhill, top rusher Cyrus Gray, and two of their top three receivers. On defense, they need to replace much of the defensive line. For an impatient athletic department, it’s going to be a long season in College Station.
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—The Power Rank Bowl Predictions, 2011.
—About The Power Rank.
—College football’s incredibly slow progress towards a playoff.
—The Power Rank featured on KALX Spectrum, the science and technology show on UC Berkeley student radio.
—Wisconsin as a 68% chance of beating Michigan State.