Rankman's wrap: Jimbo turns losing into fun at Texas A&M

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What we all saw cannot be denied: Jimbo Fisher has made losing fun again at Texas A&M. He may have also, in the minds of many Aggies, already earned every penny of his bloated 10-year, $75 million contract.

Fisher was all but carried off the field Saturday night after his team’s rousing, 28-26, loss to Clemson and, if he isn’t careful, might be specially-elected mayor of College Station.

Fisher showed all fire and brimstone you want to see in an incoming SEC preacher, spouting fourth-quarter expletives at officials over a horrible pylon touch-back call. He can atone for his potty mouth at Sunday morning church services.

Other than that, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.

Saturday goes down as a defeat, for certain, but there was plenty enough positive to placate the crowd of 104,000 at Kyle Field.

“It disappoints me that I couldn’t make the call to help them win the game,” Fisher said afterward.

Aw shucks coach, a few more close losses like this, to Alabama, Auburn and Mississippi State, and the administration might have to tear your contract into confetti.

Fisher has already proven to be an immense losing-coaching improvement over Kevin Sumlin, whose team unforgivably blew a 34-point lead last year at UCLA.

Taking a Clemson team to the wire, as Texas A&M did Saturday night, has given Aggie fans real hope of finishing fourth this year in the SEC West.

You can feel it all changing in College Station because, while all losses ultimately hurt, this one felt great. There is no reason to believe that TAMU, which finished 6-6 last season, can't improve that to 7-5 and get to something better than the Belk Bowl.

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What a day for the Ks, Kansas and Kentucky, which ended years of misery with stunning road victories.

Kansas, which lost at home to Nicholls last week, snapped a 46-game road losing streak with a 31-7 win at one of the Michigan directional schools (Central, we believe).

“For our program, for our fans, for our stakeholders, that was really important,” Kansas Coach David Beaty said. “Our fans deserve it, and they deserve better.”

Kentucky also came through with an it’s-about-freaking time win over Florida, snapping a 31-year losing streak to the Gators with a 27-16.

It was the Wildcats’ first win in Gainesville since 1979, which is also roughly the last time Florida left the state for a non-conference road game.

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Quick take on Stanford’s 17-3 win over USC: My theory on winning big with a true freshman quarterback is getting weaker with every early-entry, Elite 11 quarterback graduate. But my axiom hasn't lost all its juice.

I warned USC in 2009 about starting true frosh Matt Barkley and the Trojans finished 9-4.

In a three-way battle this season, USC chose freshman JT Daniels to lead the Trojans into the 2018 season. After two weeks, USC is 1-1 and Daniels looks like a first-year freshman. His upside is obviously enormous, but not enough to lead USC to a second-week win against a beefy-looking Stanford team.

Three points of offense is not going to cut it with USC fans in its longstanding rivalries; yet Saturday marked the fewest points scored against Stanford since the Great Shutout of 1941.

Daniels finished 16 for 34 for 215 yards with interceptions thrown on his last two passes. He was also sacked four times. If only there was a San Clemente High quarterback, sitting on the bench, to bail the Trojans out...

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The Pac 12’s hottest two off-season coaching hires spent their formative preparation months in witness\fitness protection, sheltering themselves and their players from any sort of public scrutiny and\or observation.

Kevin Sumlin basically closed his first spring practice at Arizona while Chip Kelly, at UCLA, slipped out of more back doors than a Beverly Hills burglar.

Neither coach wanted anything to do with anybody, for any reason, particularly the media, and the only thing “up-tempo” about Kelly so far has been his need to end a press conference.

Now we know why. More on this after the paywall fold.[membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

Sumlin and Kelly, after two weeks, are a combined 0-4 and lost Saturday games, at Houston and at Oklahoma, by the combined score 94-39.

Remember, these were supposed to be Pac 12 “feel good” stories entering 2018.

Both coaches deserve time to get their systems in place, of course, but it’s also true both have failed late-summer school.

Sumlin at Arizona, by far, has the most explaining to do.

Unlike Kelly, he took over a program with 16 returning starters and quarterback Khalil Tate, one of this year’s top Heisman Trophy candidates. (Not any more)

Tate had a big part in hand-picking Sumlin if you believe his off-season tweet when the school was considering Navy Coach Ken Niumatalolo as a replacement to Rich Rodriguez.

“I didn’t come here to run the triple-option,” Tate tweeted in a clear dig at Navy’s offensive system.

Arizona opted for Sumlin, who once coached Heisman winner Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M and owned a collegiate record of 86-43. Many of those wins were at Houston, the school Arizona tried to play Saturday.

Incredibly, in losses to Brigham Young and UH, Sumlin has turned dual-threat Tate into a non-factor pocket passer.

Tate did not tweet this Saturday, but he could have: “I did not come to Arizona to trail Houston, 31-0, at the half.”

Arizona is this year’s biggest earliest train wreck. Would you believe several prominent national college football writers (not me, thank God), picked Arizona as a dark-horse to win the Pac 12 South?

The Wildcats were so unwatchable against Houston the two team mascots stayed in the locker room at half and watched "Animal Planet."

Twitter, as you might expect, had a field day:

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Arizona will get better, if only because it is playing Southern Utah and Oregon State the next two weeks, but this definitely is NOT what Wildcat fans had in mind. Tate, who set the single-game rushing record for quarterbacks last year, looks like a different (worse) player under Sumlin. Tate appeared to be playing hurt against Houston but good luck getting to the bottom of that in Sumlin’s international cloak-and-dagger thriller "The Coach Who Came In From the Cold."

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Tate rushed seven times Saturday for a net eight yards, which is 1.1 yards per carry. Last year, in one game against Colorado, Tate ran for 327 yards.

Kelly is a different story because no writer, in his right mind, picked UCLA to win the Pac 12 South. Kelly, unlike Sumlin, played 11 true freshmen in last week’s loss to Cincinnati and started a true freshman quarterback, Dorian Thompson-Robinson, against Oklahoma.

UCLA is so brand new and raw a Bruin fan could almost take solace in covering the 30-point spread in Norman.

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Hey, all things considered, 49-21 really wasn’t THAT bad. Dorian Thompson-Robinson got important reps against the best team he will likely face this season.

The Bruins were never going to be able to stand up to this Oklahoma team and Kelly knew it to the point of running out the clock, down only 21-7 late in the first half. I swear I saw Chip mouthing the words “start the buses.”

With upcoming games against Fresno State, Colorado, Washington and Cal, it is conceivable UCLA could be 0-6 entering an important Oct. 20 home game against…Arizona.

Now there’s a game either team can win. We already anticipate a complete lock-down for game week with little information disseminating from either camp. Sumlin might call in the National Guard to protect his compound while Kelly may allow reporters to watch the first 10 minutes of UCLA players tying their shoes.

Despite the secrecy surrounding these clandestine operations in Tucson and Westwood, one fact will continue to gnaw at and bedevil secret agents Sumlin and Kelly.

They can’t close the games.

And based on what we’ve seen so far, go ahead and keep the practice fences padlocked.[/membership]

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