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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Opinion: Aggie football needs to return to its humble roots

Photo by Photo by Ishika Samant

Opinion writer Benjamin Barnes says the football team would benefit from embracing old traditions and abandoning our unearned pride. 

It should be no surprise that A&M football was victorious in their weekend bout against Alabama’s unranked little brother, Auburn. Our defensive front was far superior and our offense proved we’re not overly reliant on Conner Weigman.

Following a few beers and around the mid-4th quarter, whenever we had Auburn’s players so frustrated they started throwing haymakers at our running backs, I noticed several ​​cliché Aggie football thoughts sneak into my mind.

“If our secondary improves and we make some minor adjustments on offense, we’ll be unstoppable,” “Miami was a fluke,” and of course, the one I hear perpetuated around campus, “We deserve to be ranked.”

Blame it on the buzz or the overwhelming sense of pride myself and the rest of the student section shared as we harmoniously swayed during the fight song, but this, my fellow Ags, is what I refer to as entitlement.

This entitlement has proven to be A&M’s single greatest obstacle and an unhealthy departure from our origins.

When you build up a sport so much it becomes synonymous with the school’s culture and combine it with NIL deals that reward a player before they’ve been on the field, a coaching staff that is paid millions, an eye-sore of a new indoor practice facility and recent modifications to a stadium that is already among the largest in the country, you’ve set yourself up for heartbreak before the season has even started.

If the following year produces anything short of a playoff berth or at the very least, a spot in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, it’s chalked up as a failure. This is right around the time when harsh criticisms reign in calling for Jimbo to be handed his overdue pink slip.

… Until Jimbo does what he does best and brings in a recruiting class that rivals any other Southern football powerhouse. We are then quick to buy into the same mantra that plagues Cowboys fans — “This is our year.”

Like it or not, this is the grim emotional roller coaster Aggie football fans willingly ride year after year. Since 2000, the Aggies have lost at least four games in every season aside from the Manziel era in 2012 and the shortened COVID-19 season of 2020.

Perennially speaking, we’re an eight-win team, with half of those wins coming from non-conference play, unless their name happens to be Appalachian State.

All right, jokes aside, if we take a look back to our humble beginnings, I think we’ll find what our current fanbase and culture are lacking: heart.

In the days before old money egos took over, Kyle Field was actually a portion of land to be used for — surprise surprise — agricultural purposes. In 1904, a young horticultural professor by the name of Edwin Kyle was tasked with creating a space suitable for play and even funded the cost of lumber to build the players’ benches.

A few decades later we’d go on to win three national championships in the span of 20 years. Our only three to date. Ever since, despite our championship trophy case not growing, our stadium, budget and collective expectations have.

We’ve become our own worst enemy. We not only reward underwhelming performances, but have the audacity to claim we’re a team to be reckoned with and are shocked when a better team proves us wrong.

Thankfully, there are fairly simple solutions we can employ to break this cycle.

For starters, recruit players who didn’t get offers from any other major D1 schools or are coming out of junior college. Our current roster has superstars no doubt, and you need them to compete at this level. However, we don’t need superstars as our first, second, third and fourth options.

Research has shown that too much talent on a roster can diminish overall morale and distract players from competing as a team. Instead, players become consumed with individual interests and stop communicating effectively with one another about team goals. If our players getting busted for smoking marijuana following the South Carolina game last year isn’t proof of this, I’m not sure what is.

Next, severely diminish the head coach’s salary. If being a part of this organization is half as prestigious as we say it is, a young coach who still wants to prove himself along with a generous one or two-million-dollar salary should suffice plenty.

Better yet, make the coaching staff’s salary dependent upon the results they yield. If they have a four-win season and can’t maintain control over the players, that’s fine, but don’t complain when your salary is now a measly $400,000.

Lastly, distance the players from all the distractions that come with the millions we’ve pumped into our practice facilities. Recreate the field that Kyle envisioned and practice somewhere remote far away from campus. Show them what it truly means to be an Aggie. I’m sure several alumni live in the surrounding area and would be happy to renovate their land into grass practice fields to achieve this goal.

This would separate those there for the lights and cameras from the players who have the grit to play for the man beside him. If this doesn’t sound appealing to any of the coaches or players, then perhaps Old Army truly is dead.

I’ll now pose a question to you. Whether you’re a coach, player, student or perhaps even on The Board of Regents, what is most important to you at the end of the day? Is it winning every game we can and possibly competing for a national title, or spending frivolous amounts of money in the annual SEC off-season pissing contest?

Pampering players and selling tickets that are rooted in entitlement hasn’t worked so why not shake things up? Let’s foster the hard-working, dirt under your nails attitude this school was built on.

Aggies, we have a decision to make. We can continue to try and buy our way into talks of serious contenders or we can set a precedent as one.

Benjamin Barnes is a telecommunication media studies senior and opinion writer for The Battalion.

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About the Contributor
Bj Barnes
Bj Barnes, Opinion Columnist
Benjamin Barnes is a Telecommunication Media Studies senior from Rochester, Indiana. Barnes' has been involved with The Battalion since his junior year and plans to start his own media group following graduation. If he's not writing, he's most likely watching a Texans game or at the gym.
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