The day after his Texas A&M team blistered South Carolina in Week 1, Kevin Sumlin was downright giddy. Each time he remembered an anecdote about the win and its aftermath, he grew more excited.
The victory left Sumlin hopeful about the near future -- and the extended forecast in College Station. There was a certainty in place. Sumlin told me he felt as if he had a program that was still climbing the SEC ladder, with or without Johnny Manziel.
Things have changed, and quickly.
Saturday evening, a dejected, subdued Sumlin fielded questions after a 59-0 loss at Alabama.
One line stuck out to me as if it were said in bold print:
“It’s hard to say where we are right now,” Sumlin told reporters after the game.
Here’s where: The Aggies are 5-3 after a 5-0 start. They have a week off and then host Louisiana-Monroe. But after that, the slate ahead is no picnic: at Auburn, and then home games against Missouri and LSU. A 6-6 finish isn't out of the realm of possibility.
The Aggies trailed Alabama 45-0 at halftime, outgained by 400 yards. A Sumlin-coached team had never been held to single digits, let alone shut out.
“There’s no excuse for that regardless of how young they are,” a coach texted me Saturday night.
The honeymoon is over, clearly.
Since beating Bama in Tuscaloosa in 2012 -- in what some thought might be a changing of the guard -- Texas A&M is 0-6 against ranked SEC West opponents. That’s where the Aggies are. But is it where they'll stay?