This year’s edition of the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl could be one with lots of offense and excitement. But it is a game whose complexion has changed in the days leading in, and could change still more between now and game time.
The Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl is set for Wed., Dec. 30, with a 6 pm kickoff.
How this game was viewed on December 6 when the game was announced, and the way it is viewed now, are two vastly different things. When the game was announced, A&M was a seven-point favorite, now Louisville is at least a five-point favorite. Why the difference? Turmoil, unexpected turmoil at Texas A&M has cast a pall over this game.
In consecutive years, A&M has signed the top high school quarterback in America by one service or the other, to play in College Station. In 2014 it was Kyle Allen, and it 2015 it was Kyler Murray. Head Coach Kevin Sumlin started with Allen, later went to Murray, then went back to Allen and now as we get ready for this bowl game, neither are Aggies. In the span of a week, each has decided to transfer out of the program. This shocking turn of events shined a light on Sumlin and just what is going on there. Meanwhile, that leaves Jake Hubenak as the starter.
At press time, there are numerous credible reports swirling as to Sumlin’s job prospects at Texas A&M. There are those who do not believe ‘once toe meets leather for this game,’ that Kevin Sumlin will be on the sideline for the Aggies. The irony is in their last game against LSU, it was LSU coach Les Miles who was sure to be let go. Only he was not. Serious questions have been raised concerning coaching philosophy, his handling of talent, even his personal habits away from the field, all of which cast a shadow over Aggie Football. It has gotten ugly, and depending on what you believe, quite personal. It has not been reporting’s finest hour.
Louisville is used to these questions about their coach, one forever seeming to play both ends against the middle looking for another job. Head Coach Bobby Petrino has a checkered past to be kind, both in professional and personal conduct. For the time being all seems quiet on the Petrino front, and he seems to be a definite to return to Louisville, for better or for worse. Louisville has also shuffled quarterbacks this season between Kyle Bolin, Lamar Jackson and Reggie Bonnafon.
Which way this game goes is anyone’s guess. There are far more questions than answers on each side, starting at the top. A&M faded late once again while Louisville got stronger. Given A&M’s issues, this is a game Louisville should win—but anything can and probably will change this outlook as kickoff nears.