Turbulent times in Aggieland

THE WEEK THAT WAS (filling in the gaps as the 2016 season approaches):

The college football season is still almost a month from starting and already Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin is having personnel problems. Not with his players--that will come no doubt--but with his coaching staff, which keeps on making off the field headlines.

The latest incident occurred when two of Sumlin's assistant coaches--offensive line coach Jim Turner and tight ends coach Jeff Banks made what were considered inappropriate remarks, primarily to women, at an Aggie fan club event. [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

The Aggies and Sumlin apologized and Turner and Banks were suspended for two weeks without pay and required to perform 20 hours of community service.

Turner's coaching career has been bumpy to put it mildly. He is a former Marine and a former captain of the Boston College football team. He was initially hired to be on Jeff Jagodzinski's staff but left after only a few months for undisclosed reasons. He was on the Miami Dolphin's staff when the incident of "Bully-ing'' developed, in which Turner was involved. This is his third stop at A&M and it would seem that this latest incident would put him on double secret probation with Sumlin.

Sumlin is having enough problems getting his team together, without having to worry about his coaching staff. Once regarded as one of the hot young coaches, Sumlin's seat as the Aggies coach is getting warmer and warmer.

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Alabama is the coach's choice as a pre-season No. 1 without an established starter at QB. Not a surprise since Nick Saban has done this before and won a national championship. Other schools with similar problems don't have the equity of faith that Bama has. Florida State, and LSU are a pair of national championship contenders where QB is a prime topic of discussion.

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In going through the pre-season chatter, a pair of teams loom as "sleepers''. Tennessee has 17 starters returning. And Nebraska, which lost seven games by a total of 31 points last season, could emerge as this season's Iowa in the Big Ten, a team that could come out of nowhere. There really isn't a monster game on the Huskers' schedule until they face Ohio State in Columbus on November 5...How does Ohio State lose 17 starters and remain as a solid Top 10 team in the pre-season polls? Is Urban Meyer that good?....Another sleeper could be Louisville, which has 18 starters returning from last season's 8-5 team. And, Coach Bobby Petrino is that good.

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You hear lots of chatter about the "welfare of the student athlete'' being a prime consideration in college football. How do you explain the University of Hawaii opening the season with a game in Sydney, Australia against California and its second game in Ann Arbor, Michigan against the Wolverines. That's 9,513 frequent flyer miles. Since classes start in a few weeks, that would seem to involve lots of missed school time for the Rainbow Warriors.

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If Kirby Smart goes 9-3 at Georgia in his first season in Athens, will that be regarded as a bad year, considering that Mark Richt was squeezed out after AVERAGING more than 9.7 wins for 15 seasons as the Top Dawg? Yes. we know, Richt didn't win any SEC championships, which is the measuring stick. Still...How good is Notre Dame? Probably as far as the offense carries the Irish. How good is Michigan? As good as Jim Harbaugh tells us they are.

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Want to see a star emerge this season? Keep an eye on Barry Sanders Jr. at Oklahoma State, who is a graduate transfer from Stanford coming back to his dad's alma mater for one last hurrah chance at stardom...How good is Stanford's Christian McCaffrey (who finished second in the Heisman) going to be with four starters gone from the offensive line?

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Week 1 is too early for "must win'' games for teams, but it would be highly beneficial for Texas coach Charlie Strong if the Longhorns beat Notre Dame in their opener in Austin on Sept. 4th...How strange will it be to see a Virginia Tech game without Frank Beamer on the sidelines? Beamer Ball is over now that Frank has retired and former Memphis coach Justin Fuente will have the chance to put his own brand on the Hokies program.

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No truth to the rumor that if another conference (Big 12?) expressed an interest that Arizona and Arizona State would at least listen, right?...Kansas State was 6-7 last season. Bill Snyder is not going to let that happen again...Next hot young coach from the mid-majors could be PJ Fleck at Western Michigan...It says here that Kentucky will be bowl eligible this season...Syracuse was 4-8 last season but has 18 starters returning and a new coach in Dino Babers. That's good news right?

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Miami AT Appalachian State on Sept. 17. Why? How?...Can or Will Kansas win a game in 2016? Yes, Sept. 3 against Rhode Island....How strange will it be at Idaho this season. The Vandals are dropping out of the Sun Belt and out of FBS level football. My advice on games against Idaho. Give the points...What's with the Sunbelt Conference which is kicking Idaho AND New Mexico State out of the conference. [/membership]

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