Man, Texas A&M is cool. Seriously. Not satirically. The Aggies are all the rage, with a dizzying style of play and big conference wins and OMG JFF.
These aren’t the Aggies we grew up watching. Those guys were whiners, who blamed losses on the clock running out. Those guys choked away leads. And so we laughed out loud at their mistakes and their hubris, for thinking they could succeed in the Southeastern Conference when they couldn’t in the Big 12.
On the eve of what would have been the 119th Lone Star Showdown, now’s the time to come out and say it: Texas A&M made the right decision to jump east. Texas might be wishing it did the same.
No, the SEC isn’t a better conference than the Big 12, from top to bottom. The Big 12 currently has seven bowl-eligible teams, will definitely finish with eight (West Virginia will beat Kansas) and might end up with nine (if Baylor beats Texas Tech or Oklahoma). That’s 90 percent of the conference going bowling. The vaunted SEC, on the other hand, will probably send eight of its 14 teams to the postseason.
But the SEC is more relevant than the Big 12, with games that draw larger media attention and national spotlight. On the same day the Aggies beat No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa on CBS, Texas dispatched a boring — but going-bowling — Iowa State team with ease at 11 a.m. on the Longhorn Network.
The Aggies are making a push to becoming the preferred school of choice for many of the state’s best prospects. The Longhorns are No. 8 in ESPN’s recruiting rankings while Texas A&M is No. 12, with a chance to zoom upward if five-star athlete (and one-time Texas commit) Ricky Seals-Jones ends up in College Station.
Recruits love the Aggies’ free-wheeling offensive style, without even a playbook, where receivers are asked to just get open and Johnny Manziel will find them, or space to run. Manziel, like most good quarterbacks, was once recruited by the Longhorns to play in the secondary. As the legend of ‘Johnny Football’ continues to grow, there’s a very good chance he brings home the Heisman in a couple of weeks.
Few thought new head coach Kevin Sumlin’s spread offense could work in the rugged SEC, but it has, prolifically. The Aggies are fifth nationally in total offense and sixth in scoring. Offensive coordinator Kliff Kingsbury — a terrific quarterback at Texas Tech in a previous life — will get head coaching offers in the offseason, if he isn’t slotted as a Ryan Gosling body double beforehand. The aura Sumlin and Kingsbury bring to the living rooms of recruits across the state is impactful.
“I feel like they gave me the best chance to produce,” Thomas Johnson, a standout 2012 wideout who once was verbally committed to Texas, said after choosing the Aggies on National Signing Day. “It wasn’t difficult.”
Texas A&M has shed its reputation as an also-ran and will soon be chasing conference and national championships. So as we enjoy turkey and pie this Thanksgiving, let’s not forget that helping of crow.