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Texas A&M Football

Talkin' the latest in A&M football and hoops with Andrew Monaco

December 14, 2023

During Thursday's edition of TexAgs Radio, we caught up with the "Voice of the Aggies" as Andrew Monaco offered his thoughts on all things Texas A&M football and basketball as the 2023 TaxAct Texas Bowl and a hoops clash with No. 4 Houston are both quickly approaching.

Key notes from Andrew Monaco interview

  • The overlap season was as busy as we've had. Throw in the coaching change and a new coach, and it gets even busier. November was crazy. December has been just as exciting but slower.
  • To me, I was reading the rumors like everybody else, but being a little more plugged in, you can say, "That guy is not coming." When it's somebody like Mike Elko, who you have a relationship with, that helps immensely. To me, that first box that Ross Bjork talked about was "gets Texas A&M." Elko gets Texas A&M. When Elko's wife, Michelle, said, "We're home." That's when you know you've got the right hire. That is big for the family. Coaches' wives don't get enough credit. Knowing Elko before makes it more comfortable to make that move, and I think he's the right move.
  • Elko is no longer the defensive coordinator. He's the head coach. With that comes a different respect and different responsibilities. Is he always going to have an imprint on the defense? Sure. You don't hire people to do something you don't want them to.
  • With the familiarity and relationships already built, that's a nice thing. It was the first time he had ever gone into a first meeting and hugged 50 of the players. That helps. We're excited. We weren't excited to lose him, but we were excited he was getting a head coaching job at Duke. We were all kind of Duke fans because of how much we liked Elko. To have him back, I'm really looking forward to it.
  • There is the big picture of being the head coach and kicking off against Notre Dame next year, but there is the micro and macro. You have to meet the team. You have to keep your players here and out of the portal while working the portal. You have an early signing period. You have to hire a coaching staff. There are so many things to knock down immediately before you get to the bigger picture of what you want to implement.
  • Elko made it a point to say that about the Texas high school coaches during his introduction, and he has been practically everywhere. I believe that's important in building those relationships.
  • I learned a long time ago to look at the strength & conditioning coach when you look at a new coaching hire. I never understood that when I was younger. Every successful coach has had an outstanding strength & conditioning coach. Jimbo Fisher had it with Jerry Schmidt before he went back to Oklahoma.
  • This is Elko's staff. This is who he has to be comfortable with. You have to have comfort. We want all the hirings to be done, but it's not a matter of doing it quickly. It's about getting it right. It's different when it's a head coach reaching out to a coach on a staff vs. when an agent is saying that positions at Texas A&M opened up. Everything is on paper now, so I'm interested to see how it gets implemented come the spring. Even then, we won't get all of the answers until the fall. How excited must Collin Klein be to come coach at A&M?
  • You know you've got a quarterback. An offensive coordinator can say, "Oh, I get Conner Weigman? I like this."
  • The portal goes both ways too. Not everybody leaves, and you can bring other people to come in.
  • This is an offense that did not play a complete game. They still scored over 30 points per game. If you make it high-octane, it could really be something special.
  • Think about the last coaching change and all that has changed since then. When Jimbo Fisher came in, there was an early signing period in December, and that was fairly new at the time. Add the transfer portal. Add in opt-outs. Fast forward a year from now. Tomorrow would be the first game in the 12-team playoff in the schedule. Now you're adding preparation to a bowl game. Those coaches still have to recruit all 85, the early signing period, transfer portal and opt-outs.
  • I was joking with Dr. Loftin about the transfers because you get to do it as many times as you want. Add that element. I told Dr. Loftin that we need to come up with a new podcast called "Unintended Consequences" because everything that has come out of the NCAA is all starting to merge. Because of the NCAA's inactivity and inability to deal with NIL, the states have now jumped in, and now they want federal help. All of these things are converging on them. It's almost like the NCAA is making itself obsolete and then jumped back in. There is so much going on. To be a head coach in 2023 is completely different than it ever has been in the past.
  • I'm excited for all the home games in 2024, starting with Notre Dame. It will be different without divisions now. It will take some getting used to. The two byes also jumped out. They're only playing eight conference games, but if you navigate that schedule, you have to get in off of the strength of the schedule alone. I'm not saying that just about A&M. I'm saying that about all 16 SEC teams. You could have a mini-tournament of just SEC schools.
  • The committee makes me think that I'm not sure they can get 12 teams right, and I'm gunshy about committees going back to 2020. I still don't know how a team that played six games got in over one that played an entire SEC schedule. After these two basketball seasons, I'm not sure a committee can get it right. I don't think they got it right this time. It's now subjective to who we think the four best are. What makes it fun is some of the A&M teams from the past. Those are the teams that might have been the most dangerous going into a 12-team playoff. If you're hot and get in, it could make it a lot more fun.
  • We are sailing towards haves and have-nots in college football. I thought it would be a big-magnitude move to create a super division. I did not think it would be all of these little fissures. I think there is something seismic to come.
  • We're forgetting all of the depth that has been building over the last six years in recruiting. You hate seeing certain players go because you want to watch them play. I'm bummed that it's done for me and Ainias Smith at Texas A&M, but I'm happy for him. We got 12 extra games with him. I'll miss Edgerrin Cooper and McKinnley Jackson. Think about the depth. I could not be more thrilled for Layden Robinson going to the NFL. The guys that came back embodied what A&M is about. I looked forward to some of the guys taking full advantage of their new opportunities. Elijah Robinson has talked about the brotherhood, and this is the last time that the 2023 team plays together. I've enjoyed the joy for one another, and I want to see that one more time at NRG Stadium.
  • The reception for that 12th Man Kickoff team was outstanding. To see them perform like they did was even better.
  • Buzz Williams joked before the season that this is the type of non-conference schedule that can get a coach fired. It’s a great line. I loved it. When you want to beef up a non-conference, you have to play on the road. They played six of eight in November on the road. The Virginia game caught up with them, although they’re really good. I love what they did against DePaul.
  • Memphis was interesting, and we’ll talk to the team today. Sunday could be a learning game for A&M. Memphis played a dynamite non-conference. Williams said they played OK, but OK is not good enough. That applies to Dec. 10 and Jan. 10, Feb. 10 or March 10.
  • I love what they’ve done. Add in that they’ve had to do it without Tyrece Radford or Henry Coleman III for a game. That is valuable for all of the players. When you know Radford is not playing, now the responsibility gets passed, and the guys rose to that occasion. That’s what I saw vs. Iowa State or Florida Atlantic.
  • I like that they went into Ohio State very early, played Ohio State’s style and won. They played a very different style at SMU and handled it beautifully. That’s what you get with a mature and experienced team. Your starting point is much further down the line.
  • John Thornton told me this during a game: When you have to think about diving on the floor for a loose ball, it’s too late. They don’t think about that. They don’t think about going to get an offensive rebound. When you’re taking predictable shots, you’re in position for a rebound. They don’t think twice.
  • When someone is here for a second year, whether that’s Solomon Washington from freshman to sophomore or Andersson Garcia, I like seeing the growth. I also like seeing how Jace Carter fits. I like how Eli Lawrence fits. I like the development of Hayden Hefner. You’re seeing the growth with this team.
  • It’s fun to watch this team. It’s fun to watch the matchups. It’s fun that every game matters in December and January. Instead of waiting for January for that to start, it started in November.
  • There is a difference between shooters and scorers, and I think Wade Taylor IV is a scorer. Look at Taylor’s all-around game. There are nights when he’s not scoring or shooting well. Some players will keep shooting. Not Taylor. Watch him penetrate and dish to Coleman for a bucket. That’s where his game has evolved. You can also forget about him on the defensive end and the steals and how crafty he is. He’s very different now. He has a lot of options, and his game has expanded. He can get everybody else involved. That’s what makes him more dangerous. There is a reason why he’s a preseason first-teamer in the SEC.
  • If Taylor and Radford get going at the same time, it’s the best backcourt in the SEC. Radford has next-level poise. It’s poise you see in the NBA. He is adding a pull-up jumper. How do you defend him? When DeAndre Jordan was in the NBA with Chris Paul, the best play was to lob it to him. I think experience helps, and you can’t rattle Taylor and Radford. Taylor will learn from what Virginia and Memphis did, and he’s going to beat it. When all heck breaks loose, Radford wants the ball. Their composure and maturity are going to work wonders for them in conference play.
  • The Aggies are playing without a number next to their name. You have to embrace that number, and they have. On Saturday, they get back to being the underdog vs. No. 4 Houston in a neutral-game site that is anything but neutral. This will tell you where you are against a really good Houston team. They are a contender. I like a team that plays with a chip on their shoulder, and that’s A&M.
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Talkin' the latest in A&M football and hoops with Andrew Monaco

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