Mike Hlas is an award-winning columnist with the Cedar Rapids Gazette and force behind The Hlog. Each week he will break down the biggest mismatches in college football. Considering the increasing number of Bowl Championship Series teams scheduling games against cupcake opponents, Mike's task is more complex than carrying all the boxes out of Lehman Brothers.
Last week, R.C. Slocum was inducted into Texas A&M’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He got a standing ovation from the fans at the Miami-A&M game in College Station.
The irony was thick. Slocum was fired in 2002 after the Aggies went 6-6. But in his 14 seasons as the coach, the team never had a losing season. His record was 123-47-2, and he won four conference titles. Slocum was replaced by Dennis Franchione, whose five-year record was 32-29. He got shown the door last year, and has been replaced by former Slocum assistant Mike Sherman.
Last Saturday, the Aggies got thumped by Miami, 41-23, to slip to 1-2. It was A&M's second home loss in a row (the other was to Arkansas State). The Aggies lost only four home games in the 1990s.
It’s not the first time a team wanted to go to the "next level," with a coaching change only to see that next level be two steps down. While the Big 12 is full of dynamic football programs, once-mighty A&M is no longer among them. The Aggies are last in the Big 12 in a multitude of statistical categories, including total offense and total defense.
That said, Army at Texas A&M is our Game of the Weak. The visitors have no shortage of football problems themselves. They enter with an 0-3 mark, with the defeats all at home, to lowly Temple, I-AA New Hampshire and Akron. The Black Knights have a total of 20 points.
Army is 17-79 this decade and hasn’t been to a bowl game since 1996. It hasn’t won a road game in two years. In 2003, it became the first I-A team to go 0-13.
Like A&M, Army was once a college football brand-name. But it was much longer ago. The Black Knights were national-champions from 1944 through 1946. They had 14 finishes in the final AP rankings. They were the stuff of college lore.
Now they’re a team that loses at home to Temple. And they face a team that lost at home to Arkansas State.
A&M is famous for its “12th Man.” It may want to expand to 13 or 14.