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Texas A&M's bowl bid buried under Fisher hire

Texas A&M seems to be treating the Belk Bowl as something leftover to do at the end of the season, on par with putting away the game jerseys and editing the highlight film for the postseason banquet.

But that's to be expected given the circumstances.

The Aggies fired Kevin Sumlin following a 7-5 campaign. Under Sumlin, Texas A&M digressed from an 11-2 record during his first season in 2012, to no more than eight wins in each of the last four campaigns.

It was easy to see Sumlin's exit coming this fall. From the moment the Aggies blew a 34-point lead in the season-opener at UCLA, Sumlin's job was in jeopardy.

For a brief moment, Sumlin appeared to buoy the season with a win at Florida that got the Aggies to 5-2, but they lost three of their last five, including yet another defeat against LSU.

And then the possibility that Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher was flirting with the Aggies became the worst-kept secret in college sports in late November.

Sure enough, Texas A&M inked Fisher to a 10-year, $75-million contract that was confirmed on Monday. The Aggies administration put on a show in introducing Fisher on Monday. Texas A&M president Michael K. Young even went so far as to brag that the Aggies always get their man in coaching searches and never even have a No. 2 candidate.

Meanwhile, the SEC slotted Texas A&M opposite Wake Forest in the Belk Bowl to be played December 29 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Aggies special teams coach Jeff Banks will serve as the interim head coach for the bowl game. Instead of bothering with a bowl game press conference amid the hoopla surrounding Fisher's hire, Texas A&M issued a generic statement from Banks.

"We are honored to represent Texas A&M in the Belk Bowl," Banks said. "Our players will be excited to get back to work and prepare to face an excellent and well-coached Wake Forest football team."

While the Aggies turn the bulk of their attention to the beginning of the Fisher era, a few Aggies will be giving an encore in their final collegiate games.

Texas A&M senior safety Armani Watts has been a prime playmaker for the past few seasons and senior punter Shane Tripucka might be the best position-by-position player on the Aggies' roster. As for junior wide receiver Christian Kirk, it seems likely his NFL prospects will be too good to pass up following the Belk Bowl.





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