Texas A&M Football: Why the Gator Bowl would have been depressing

Moose Muhammad, Texas A&M football Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports
Moose Muhammad, Texas A&M football Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports /

The Texas A&M football team was selected to play in the Taxslayer Gator Bowl this season, a contest that was a significant downgrade from a season ago in the Orange Bowl. After an 8-4 regular season, however, nobody expected better.

Fast forward a few weeks and the Aggies will not be playing in their bowl game — instead, they dropped out amid a COVID-19 outbreak in College Station. But some, including TexasMonthly, hypothesize that A&M was simply looking for an excuse. Here’s a small snippet of what they said.

"Texas A&M head football coach Jimbo Fisher would have been nuts to allow his Aggies to play the Gator Bowl. In the end, it wasn’t a complicated decision. This wasn’t just about a surge of COVID infections, although that surely played a role. Because A&M’s announcement came ten days before the game, other factors must have been in play."

Did the Texas A&M football team duck out of the Gator Bowl due to a lack of interest?

It seems far-fetched to think that the Texas A&M football team would drop out of a bowl game that could earn the program upwards of $3 million. This is an especially relevant point when you consider the mega-contract that Jimbo Fisher recently signed to stick around in College Station for another decade.

That said, what would the purpose have been in playing this game?

Zach Calzada has already entered the transfer portal. Isaiah Spiller, Jalen Wydermyer, Kenyon Green, and DeMarvin Leal have all declared for the NFL Draft. Mike Elko had departed the program for the Duke football head coaching job. More coaches are following.

It’s not the end of the world for the Aggies but this wouldn’t be the same team that Aggie fans have been watching for the entire 2021 year. You’d have a walk-on freshman starting at quarterback and half of your offense missing.

For the Texas A&M football team, the Gator Bowl would have represented a program trying to avoid adding another disappointing loss to their record. What’s the best-case scenario here? You beat a ranked Wake Forest team that lost three of its last five games. I’m not saying the Aggies ducked this bowl game, but the decision to drop out couldn’t have been very difficult.

If A&M hadn’t set the bar so high under Jimbo Fisher, this may have been an exciting opportunity. Still, nobody will pretend like it was — it was a subpar bowl game for a program that was hoping to make the College Football Playoff.

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Hopefully, the Aggies will make their way into a more competitive postseason matchup next year.