Dat Nguyen might be the most recognizable Texas A&M football product of the Big 12 era.
Along with Aggie icons like John David Crow, John Kimbrough and yes, even original 12th man E. King Gill, Nguyen made a legendary mark on the school through his time with the football program.
Now, it seems to be a no-brainer for A&M coach Mike Sherman to bring the most decorated Aggie in recent history back into the fold. The Aggies have a vacancy on their defensive staff after Buddy Wyatt left for Turner Gill's new staff at Kansas.
Nguyen quit his work with the Dallas Cowboys earlier this week after being offered a two-year contract extension to continue as the NFL team's assistant linebackers coach and a quality control assistant.
That job was more clerical in nature than Nguyen really wanted. And it's why he decided to quit after spending three years as a coach for his old professional team.
"I want to grow as a coach,” Nguyen told the San Antonio Express-News. "I want to be more hands-on, and be more accountable to players.
“I didn't think I'd have the chance to grow like I had envisioned as a young coach. They offered me an extension. I just didn't see where staying with the Cowboys was going to help me accomplish what I want to accomplish.”
Coming back to his old school might do just that.
“I definitely want to be in coaching; it's a part of my life,” Nguyen said. “I want to make differences in kids' lives.”
It's hard to imagine a more positive role model the Aggies could add to help revamp a struggling defense that ranked among the bottom 16 teams in total defense, scoring defense and pass defense in 2009.
Obviously, Nguyen has never coached in college or been involved in recruiting. But his name still resonates with Aggies everywhere and would likely do the same in any household of nearly any recruit in Texas.
“People think I'm crazy to not have signed that extension, that I should keep coaching for the Dallas Cowboys,” he said. “But I've never done anything because of money. I understand what I gave up. I understand that I left an NFL job without a job at hand. I took that risk.
“I have faith, and as long as I have my wife and our two kids, I'm fine. I don't know where the Lord is going to take me. It's in his hands.”
Sherman is battling as he tries to build his program after losing 15 of his first 25 games as coach, capped by a 44-20 loss to Georgia in the Independence Bowl.
His defense struggled with former coordinator Joe Kines in charge, allowing at least 40 points in 12 of those games. The Aggies ranked 114th and 105th nationally in total defense in the last two seasons.
The hiring new coordinator Tim DeRuyter was a wildly popular move among Aggie fans, prompting a standing ovation for the new coach when he was introduced at the A&M basketball game against Colorado last week.
Bringing Nguyen back into the program would only continue that excitement for a defense that has looked little like the "Wrecking Crew" defenses of which he was such a prominent part during his playing career.