Story Poster
Photo by Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Texas A&M Football

What might have been: Aggie football's biggest 'What if?' moments

April 15, 2020
21,146

“What if?” might be humanity’s most often asked question.

It ponders the possibilities of what could’ve been accomplished or what was avoided. It reviews a decision and the ensuing chain of events.

What if you had invested early in Dell? What if you’d gone into a different profession? What if you had married your college sweetheart? What if you didn’t? What if you had bet on the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team just for the sake of patriotism?

The “What if?” question is particularly popular in sports. What if a bad call had not been made? What if a key player had not gotten hurt? What if a fourth-down gamble had not worked out?

Texas A&M has had more than its share of “What if?” moments in its football history. Following is one man’s Top Ten.

Join in the speculation and add yours to the thread.

What if Johnny Manziel and Mike Evans had played one more season?

In two seasons, Manziel and Evans combined for 148 pass completions for 2,643 yards and 17 touchdowns. A third season at that average would have resulted in 222 completions for 3,694 yards. That would’ve elevated the Manziel-Evans combination among the best in FBS history. And A&M probably wins at least three more games in 2014.

What if officials ruled an Ole Miss safety in 2012?

Had an official decided to award Ole Miss two points on a sack near the goal line, the Rebels would have taken a 29-17 lead with 8:24 to play. That likely would have resulted in an A&M loss. Maybe Manziel doesn’t win the Heisman Trophy. Of course, the ball was marked inside the 1-yard line. Two plays later, Manziel connects with Evans on the sideline for a 39-yard gain to launch an incredible comeback. The Aggies prevail 30-27 despite committing six turnovers.

Andrew Kilzer
Without a fumble against LSU in 2012, the Aggies may have had a chance at a national championship.

What if Ben Malena didn’t fumble against LSU?

The Aggies had squandered chances to take a bigger lead in 2012, but they still held a 12-7 advantage with less than a minute remaining in the first half. But on second-and-five, Malena fumbled at the 40-yard line at the end of a 5-yard run. That set up an LSU touchdown pass 11 seconds before the break to give LSU a 14-12 lead. The Tigers eventually prevailed, 24-19. Subtract that late first-half LSU touchdown and the Aggies probably win. A&M then would’ve faced Georgia in the SEC championship game and perhaps Notre Dame for the national title.

What if the Aggies had executed the last play hook-and-ladder against Notre Dame in the 1994 Cotton Bowl? 

Trailing 24-21 and facing fourth-and-17 near midfield, Aggie quarterback Corey Pullig passed to Tony Harrison, who attempted to lateral to Leeland McElroy. Under duress, Harrison’s lateral sailed too high for McElroy and the game ended. Had the lateral been accurate, the speedy McElroy likely would have run for a game-winning touchdown. That would’ve raised A&M’s record to 11-1 and given the Aggies at least a legitimate claim on the national championship. Once beaten Florida State was crowned the national champion. The Seminoles’ one loss was to Notre Dame. A&M wouldn’t have been voted No. 1, though. The media liked Florida State coach Bobby Bowden and wanted to give him a championship.

What if A&M had been in the Big 12 in 2012?

The Aggies would’ve been Big 12 champions. That’s a given, which they proved in the Cotton Bowl with a 41-13 blowout victory over co-champion Oklahoma. TCU, which finished 7-6, had by far the best defense in the Big 12 that year. The Frogs allowed 37 points to Iowa State, 56 to Texas Tech, 36 to Oklahoma State and 38 to West Virginia. Imagine the numbers Johnny Manziel, Mike Evans, Ryan Swope and Ben Malena would have accumulated. However, the Aggies would not have won the national championship, but only because they wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity. Remember, there was no playoff then. The BCS selected just the two championship game participants. Alabama would not have played A&M and therefore would have no losses. Notre Dame would still be unbeaten. It is highly doubtful a committee would’ve selected A&M instead of an unbeaten Alabama or Notre Dame.

Alex Parker, TexAgs
Had Kyler Murray stayed at Texas A&M, the Aggies may have found themselves in the national championship game in 2016.

What if Kyler Murray never transferred?

The 2018 Heisman Trophy winner and 2019 NFL Rookie of the Year was destined for stardom. That was apparent even when he arrived in College Station in 2015. Had he been the Aggies quarterback in 2016, the Aggies might have won the SEC championship and probably would have reached the College Football Playoff. Remember, the Aggies trailed Alabama just 20-14 and were driving late in the third quarter before a botched handoff exchange between quarterback Trevor Knight and running back Keith Ford resulted in an Alabama touchdown. Alabama prevailed 33-14, but the outcome might have been different with Murray at quarterback. The remainder of the regular season probably would have been different, too. Recall, A&M was fourth in the first CFB rankings but lost to Mississippi State 35-28. A&M wins that game with Murray at quarterback. The Aggies beat Ole Miss, too, and likely outscore LSU in the finale instead of falling 54-39. Knight wasn’t bad, but an offense that included Murray, Christian Kirk, Josh Reynolds and Ricky Seals-Jones would’ve been lethal.

What if the 1975 Arkansas game had not been rescheduled?

We get it. Back in those days, A&M needed money and teams rarely appeared on television. So, A&M officials jumped at an opportunity to play Arkansas on national TV. That required moving the game originally scheduled for November 1 to December 6. Did anyone ever think that playing a sound opponent on the road the week after facing Texas was a bad idea? Should have. The undefeated second-ranked Aggies were flat and fell 31-6 in Fayetteville. Even Arkansas players and coach Frank Broyles said the Razorbacks would not have won if the game had been played as originally scheduled. Had A&M not agreed to alter the schedule, they’d have finished 11-0 and gone to the Cotton Bowl to face Georgia, which instead was soundly beaten by Arkansas. Here’s what really hurts: No. 1 Ohio State lost to UCLA in the Rose Bowl. Had A&M won the Cotton Bowl, the Aggies would have been national champions.

What if A&M doesn’t tie SMU in 1994?

A&M was 8-0 and SMU was 1-7. But a lackluster effort results in the Aggies falling behind early. They rally to salvage a 21-21 tie, but the damage is done. Ineligible for the Southwest Conference championship, the Aggies finish 10-0-1 and ranked eighth. They join Nebraska and Penn State as the nation’s only unbeaten teams. Without the tie, A&M probably finishes third, which is significant in that it would’ve been its highest finish since winning the national championship in 1939.

Jessica Campbell, Legacy.com
It’s hard not to wonder what might have been different if Bear Bryant had remained in College Station.

What if news of Bear Bryant’s departure had not been leaked?

The Aggies were 8-0 and ranked No. 1 entering the next to last week of the 1957 football season. But earlier that week speculation surfaced that coach Paul Bryant was leaving A&M for Alabama. As rumors persisted, the Aggies were increasingly distracted. Consequently, they lost the last final three games (including Gator Bowl) by a total of six points. Without those rumors, A&M very well may have defeated Rice and Texas to reach the Cotton Bowl and likely would have faced Navy for a chance to win the national championship.

What if ‘Momma’ never called?

Bryant, who played college football at Alabama, explained his departure from A&M by saying “Momma called. And when momma calls, you just have to come running.” Bryant then built Alabama into a national power and was credited with winning six national championships. Had he stayed in College Station, perhaps A&M would have won some of those titles. Instead, upon his exit A&M struggled for a decade until winning the 1967 Cotton Bowl over … Bryant’s Alabama Crimson Tide.

Discussion from...

What might have been: Aggie football's biggest 'What if?' moments

16,721 Views | 36 Replies | Last: 3 yr ago by NoahAg
ABATTBQ87
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
hook-and-ladder is incorrect terminology:

The receiver runs a HOOK pattern, catches the pass and then LATERALS to the trailing runner/receiver
atxaggie07
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
I think it's meant to be slang.
-------------------------------------------------------
quote:
"Some people, when a certain team has a big year, they'll buy a jersey," he said. "OK, did you go there? No. Are you from Austin? No. Did you work there? No. Do you know anybody who worked there? No. Well, nice shirt, you know?"
TAMU74
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
The '75 Arkansas will always be the #1 "What if" for me.
farmersfight
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
2012 - The schedule was played as intended. LA Tech the first game - KK and Sumlin have the chance to see what JFF can do BEFORE the Florida game, potentially giving the Ags the edge against UF (L 17-20) the following week. Then having a scheduled bye week (IIRC) before the LSU game (L 19-24). The things that could have been.
W
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
I think both losses in the 1991 season fall into the "what if" category.

if A&M beats Tulsa...then the Ags probably play undefeated Miami in the Cotton Bowl for a shot at the national title.

or if the 10-1 Ags had beaten FSU...then A&M finishes 11-1 and #3 in the country...and the national narrative would have been very different for the 1992 & 1993 seasons
AggieBlu
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
farmersfight said:

2012 - The schedule was played as intended. LA Tech the first game - KK and Sumlin have the chance to see what JFF can do BEFORE the Florida game, potentially giving the Ags the edge against UF (L 17-20) the following week. Then having a scheduled bye week (IIRC) before the LSU game (L 19-24). The things that could have been.
And make Josh Lambo the kicker.
I will never understand how someone can tell so many lies and not feel bad about it...
Southlake
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Every team out there has at least 10 what ifs?

How about we figure how many, what ifs went our way?
DeadCiv
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
Southlake said:

Every team out there has at least 10 what ifs?

How about we figure how many, what ifs went our way?
.

Gee, you're a fun guy.
coupland boy
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
Greg Hill's fumble through the end zone in the Cotton Bowl will always make me wonder what might have been. That was the first cotton bowl and beating a very good FSU was a tremendous lost opportunity.

I think Mike Evans and Manziel staying might have only masked a bit longer some of our problems that are now obvious from that time. I liked watching Johnny play but it would have been bad for the program.

IMO - the biggest loss from Kyler leaving was perception and unfortunately the broken relationship with him. Clearly he wanted to be an Ag. The late trip to Austin just pisses me off but I can't decide who to be more pissed at - coach or dad.
They ****ed us. Ultimately Kyler went to a league that was better suited to his size which just wasn't suited to the SEC.
Sterling82
How long do you want to ignore this user?
W said:

I think both losses in the 1991 season fall into the "what if" category.

if A&M beats Tulsa...then the Ags probably play undefeated Miami in the Cotton Bowl for a shot at the national title.

or if the 10-1 Ags had beaten FSU...then A&M finishes 11-1 and #3 in the country...and the national narrative would have been very different for the 1992 & 1993 seasons

The 91 season, featuring one of the best A&M teams ever, was full of them...Tulsa: Bucky getting hurt, a first half TD negated that would have made it 28-3. FSU: the fumble at the 1, the dropped touchdown, the step out of bounds on the int return. That team was national championship material but couldn't catch a break when needed.
The Chicken Ranch
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
The entire story of TAMU athletics is, "what if?"

Embrace it. It's who we are.
West Point Aggie
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
Will all of 2020 be added to this list I wonder!
Cy_Tolliver
How long do you want to ignore this user?
Great thread, but you left off the Greg Hill fumble through the end zone in the 1992 Cotton Bowl He was running clear to the end zone and even if he was tackled, it would have been first and goal.

Greg Hill fumbled FOUR times in that game and we lost by 8 points. Our only other loss that year, as I recall, was to Tulsa (who finished ranked) and we led that game 28-0 at halftime. We had four turnovers in the second half. I still don't know why we scheduled a road game at tulsa.

that was one of the greatest defensive teams in CFB history. Sam Adams, Quentin Coryatt.




ColoradoMooseHerd
How long do you want to ignore this user?
1995 at Colorado
#3 in the country playing #5, leading going into the 4th. Pass going through sanders hands that would have been TD. Pass going through Connells hands that was intercepted and return towards goal line.

Should have one. I think that game changed the season and the hunger we had to win it all.
Cy_Tolliver
How long do you want to ignore this user?
ColoradoMooseHerd said:

1995 at Colorado
#3 in the country playing #5, leading going into the 4th. Pass going through sanders hands that would have been TD. Pass going through Connells hands that was intercepted and return towards goal line.

Should have one. I think that game changed the season and the hunger we had to win it all.
I was putting together a wine rack while watching that game and smashed it to pieces when that pass went through Sander's hands.
Ol Rock
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
What if Aggies hired Urban Meyer, who had rumored interest, instead of Dennis Franchione?
greg.w.h
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
Should be WTF moments...
coupland boy
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
ColoradoMooseHerd said:

1995 at Colorado
#3 in the country playing #5, leading going into the 4th. Pass going through sanders hands that would have been TD. Pass going through Connells hands that was intercepted and return towards goal line.

Should have one. I think that game changed the season and the hunger we had to win it all.


That game hurt.
William_C_G
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
1975 is the biggest "what if." But saying the team was "flat" after beating Texas does not fairly describe why we lost. Starting Aggie QB Mike Jay suffered a back injury late in the Texas game and did not play against Arkansas. Arkansas Coach Frank Broyles was a guest commentator for ABC for that game. After the game, he supposedly said something along the lines of "When you lose your quarterback, you lose your whole offense." It did not help that freshman Tony Franklin missed a 22-yard FG before halftime.
Charlie Wallace
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
The 1963 tu game should definitely have made the Top 10 "What might have been" list.

https://www.myaggienation.com/athletics_history/football/year_by_year/year_by_year_2/article_128a674c-f4a9-11e2-a785-001a4bcf887a.html

Brotherton should have just dropped to the ground after the interception and we run out the clock ahead 13-9 at the time with only a couple minutes left in the game.

Later, Willenborg DID make the interception in the end zone. I and everyone else in that end zone had a clear view of the play. The ref blew it. This was the greatest crime in football history. We got robbed!

tu went on to beat Navy and Roger Staubach in the Cotton Bowl and ended up No. 1.

Charlie Wallace AMC '62
jsmc71
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
Charlie Wallace said:

The 1963 tu game should definitely have made the Top 10 "What might have been" list.

https://www.myaggienation.com/athletics_history/football/year_by_year/year_by_year_2/article_128a674c-f4a9-11e2-a785-001a4bcf887a.html

Brotherton should have just dropped to the ground after the interception and we run out the clock ahead 13-9 at the time with only a couple minutes left in the game.

Later, Willenborg DID make the interception in the end zone. I and everyone else in that end zone had a clear view of the play. The ref blew it. This was the greatest crime in football history. We got robbed!

tu went on to beat Navy and Roger Staubach in the Cotton Bowl and ended up No. 1.

Charlie Wallace AMC '62
Wasn't alive then and it may be a better "what if" moment, but I have a hard time believing it was any worse of a call than A&M's "fumble through the end zone" against Clemson in 2018 that actually went 3 feet outside of the pylon.
up-n-aTm
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
If you don't have BAS, just read this thread. You'll get a lifetime toxic dose.
jaroldm70
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
Love reading your articles......hope you never hear "moma" calling
jaroldm70
samhoustonag
How long do you want to ignore this user?
This is gonna be a really long list.
Cy_Tolliver
How long do you want to ignore this user?
there are lots of WTF moments, and I was too young to remember 1975 so that might be comparable.

But it's clear 2012 was our year. How BAS is it that we recruited a 5 star kicker, literally the number 1 kicker in the nation, and THAT is what caused us to lose two games - even if we would have won one of those we would have been national champs????
W
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
a couple of notes on 1975...

the score at halftime of the A&M-Arkansas game was only 7-0 Hogs. The final score looked like a blowout, but the defense hung in there for 3 quarters.

also...the 75 team only played 5 home games. Tough way to run the table
W
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
one of the biggest "what ifs" that went in A&M's favor...

the 1999 bonfire game. On the horns' final play...they lined up in 4 wide...and Hankwtiz rushed 7.

so it was man-to-man across the back end. A very risky defensive call up by 4 points with 30 seconds left.

fortunately big play Jay got to Applewhite before one of his downfield receivers broke free
maroongoon95
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
The biggest What if is....... What if we weren't cursed? 5 natties in 1939, 1975, 1992, 1995, 2012.
PLUM LOCO
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
What if Drew Brees was big enough to play Div. 1 college football?
terata
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
"The '75 Arkansas will always be the #1 "What if" for me."

I'm with you TAMU74. What if.....it's still a huge disappointment
Gramercy Riffs
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
Cy_Tolliver said:

there are lots of WTF moments, and I was too young to remember 1975 so that might be comparable.

But it's clear 2012 was our year. How BAS is it that we recruited a 5 star kicker, literally the number 1 kicker in the nation, and THAT is what caused us to lose two games - even if we would have won one of those we would have been national champs????

We had five turnovers against LSU, so you might as well blame Johnny, Mike (who had a ball hit him between the 1 and the 3 before popping up and being intercepted), and Malena (as Olin pointed out). The LSU kicker missed one also, but I guess the "what if" game only applies when it's in our favor. Either way, we didn't lose because of our kicker. Turnovers, untimely penalties, and poor clock management lost it. And turnovers. And also... turnovers.

Bertolet didn't miss against Florida. That's a bad one to get wrong.

I'm not sure why we have to go through this every time 2012 is brought up. Either some of our fans weren't watching or they don't understand football. Maybe both.
Gramercy Riffs
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
farmersfight said:

2012 - The schedule was played as intended. LA Tech the first game - KK and Sumlin have the chance to see what JFF can do BEFORE the Florida game, potentially giving the Ags the edge against UF (L 17-20) the following week. Then having a scheduled bye week (IIRC) before the LSU game (L 19-24). The things that could have been.

Or, we go into that first game with the same sort of offensive approach because in Kliff's words, he didn't really know what we had at QB until he saw it in a real game, and we can't keep up with La Tech and lose. I don't know if they would have scored in the 50s, but we sure wouldn't have either.
W
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
the 1995 team really struggled on offense the entire year despite having Leeland and Connell.

the o-line was not very good outside of Calvin Collins.

the 95 team only scored 7 points vs. Tech and 6 points vs. the horns.

barely managed 20 points vs. SMU and just 17 points vs. Rice.

Pullig was out of sync for most of the season
W
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
the 1989 season had a couple of forgettable "what ifs"

--- the phantom P.I. call on 4th down on Arkansas' late 4th quarter drive. A&M would have taken over on downs needing 1 or 2 first downs to play in the Cotton Bowl.

--- and the Tech game. The defense got on the field late after a timeout and the Red Raiders completed a 3rd & 26 pass...and then took the lead with a few minutes left. A&M would have won a share of the conference title
W
How long do you want to ignore this user?
AG
and another one...

in 1976 if Emory makes the QB switch to David Walker after the Ags' first conference loss to UH in game 3. Instead of waiting until after the Ags' second conference loss to Tech in game 5.

once Walker took over in 76...A&M ran the table with winning margins of:

24 points, 23, 36, 21, 49, 24, and 23 again (in the Sun Bowl)
Page 1 of 2
 
×
subscribe Verify your student status
See Subscription Benefits
Trial only available to users who have never subscribed or participated in a previous trial.