College football arrives on Thursday evening.
The most transcendent, larger-than-life college football personality in recent memory is long gone and now Texas A&M faces the arduous task of life post-Johnny Manziel. The Aggies also lost his primary sidekick in wide receiver Mike Evans, who was taken with the seventh pick of NFL draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
If you remember, these two were pretty great last year: Manziel threw for 4,114 yards and 37 touchdowns, while rushing for 759 yards and nine touchdowns; Evans, a 6-foot-5 behemoth, caught 69 passes for 1,394 yards and 12 touchdowns.
But Coach Kevin Sumlin must now focus on the task ahead. The undertaking of losing literally a former Heisman Trophy winner and a crucial weapon at wide receiver has been incredibly difficult for coaches in the past.
I looked at the past eight teams that lost a Heisman winner and go-to receiver in the same season. The player didn’t have to have won the Heisman his senior year, but simply had to leave alongside a receiver who had more than seven touchdown catches.
Seasons that didn’t qualify: Oklahoma lost Sam Bradford following the 2010 season, USC lost Matt Leinart following the 2005 season and Nebraska lost Eric Crouch following the 2001 season, but none lost a go-to receiver. Note: Reggie Bush technically didn’t win the Heisman in 2005.
As shown, most teams drastically regressed following the loss of the key players.
Here were the average percentage shifts each category:
And when it’s applied to Texas A&M for the upcoming season:
Considering Manziel threw for more yards in his senior season than everyone listed save for Robert Griffin III and Chris Weinke, and given that Evans caught more touchdowns than everyone but Boldin, it appears the Aggies have a lot of work to do if they hope to remain successful in 2014.
Josh Planos has had his work featured at Rivals, Bleacher Report, Denver Post, CBS Sports Radio, Fox Sports Radio, and ESPN Radio, and is currently a columnist for the ESPN TrueHoop Network and FanSided. He loves interacting with readers via Twitter (@JPlanos).