A Weekend in Aggieland: How Texas A&M students and Alumni are preparing for the SEC
By Christian Wick
I flew down to Texas this weekend for my buddy's wedding. He’s an Aggie alumnus, Ensign in the Navy, and is currently training to become a Helicopter pilot.
But this isn’t about the wedding weekend or the Bachelor party (if you want ready about a crazy one, see Clay Travis’ Epic two part article).
These are some first-hand observations on the Aggie’s transitioning to the SEC:
Most are very realistic about the upcoming season.
Of the 30 or so I talked to, 6 to 7 wins is what most of them expect.
With SMU, S.C. State, Ole Miss, Miss St., Sam Houston State being definite wins, Alabama and LSU being definite losses, and Florida, Arkansas, Auburn, and Missouri being not as certain, I’d say 6 or 7 wins is a good prediction.
They are divided on how they will fare in the future.
Many are convinced that the Aggies can win a national championship within 5 years. Is this doable? I think so. If Kevin Sumlin can recruit an average SEC defense and put better athletes in a system that gave Case Keenum video game-like stats, the potential is there.
On the same token, I talked to some who like the fact they are in the SEC, but see themselves perpetually floating in the middle. Most of these Aggies seem to have lingering “little brother syndrome” as a result of being dominated by the Longhorns for most of their history.
What they don’t understand is that the big six (LSU, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee) are not always dominant at the same time. Arkansas and South Carolina have stepped up at the moment, so why can’t A&M have its turn in a couple of years?
And to be honest, if they build a tradition of winning in the SEC, who’s to say they can’t become a traditional SEC power? The only SEC school in one of the top 3 states for recruiting? The potential is definitely there.
They don’t have a sense of "rooting" for the SEC.
In the state of Texas, everyone has his or her own school. You’re a Longhorn, an Aggie, a Raider, a Horned Frog, etc.
They didn’t root for other schools in Texas, the Big 12, or even the Southwest Conference, so this idea of rooting for other schools in your conference is strange to them. But as time passes, and as the rest of the nation forgets how great the SEC is until the annual beat down, I’m sure they’ll follow suit.
The fans I talked to didn’t really care if Alabama beat Michigan, but in a few years they will. It’s part of the conference; you’re a fan of your school plus the SEC (with some exceptions).
Their in-conference rival isn’t set in stone.
I asked who they thought their main SEC rival was going forward and got a split answer.
I assumed LSU was the clear answer, but only a few of the Aggies I encountered agreed. Some also said Missouri, but the majority of them said Arkansas.
This caught me by surprise at first, but let’s check the facts: the A&M/Razorback rivalry goes back to 1903, and from 1934-1991, they played annually in the Southwest Conference. Granted, they first played LSU in 1899, but they’ve only played LSU 50 times versus 68 games against Arkansas.
Plus, after they play a home and home with Arkansas this and next season, they will play at Cowboys Stadium in the “Southwest Classic.” It's an okay name, but how bout “Largest Outdoor Margarita Party?” Any takers?
They are SEC people.
I know, I know, there have been articles written about this, but experiencing something in person gives you a better understanding.
When the Best Man mentioned the groom (his twin) and the bride were both Aggies during the reception, there was a loud “Whoop” from the crowd. It’s not as annoying as “Pig! Sooie!” but it fits nicely in the strange tradition column. One Aggie alum told me it comes from a cheer that evolves over an Aggie's college career, and it's on the now infamous billboard in Gainesville (see above). Here's what I found. Other notable traditions include the much talked about 12th Man. A&M is where it began in the 1920’s.
In conclusion, the Aggies are ready. It will be rocky at first, but the SEC might have another power on their hands.
Now all we need is an awkward fan photo.