The question gets asked a lot by Southeastern Conference fans and it goes something like this: “How would (highly ranked team) do in the SEC?”
Often it’s not even a question, it’s an assertion, such as: “(Highly ranked team not from the SEC) would be lucky to finish .500 if it played in the SEC.”
Hypotheticals are one of the foundations of college football debates, because so much simply can’t be determined with certainty. And while we’ll never know for sure how Ohio State or Oregon or Florida State would do in the SEC, Missouri and Texas A&M are showing the idea that top teams from other leagues would crumble playing SEC football is more myth than reality.
The Aggies and Tigers moved into the SEC last year. Texas A&M finished 6-2 in the conference in 2012, including a victory against No. 1 Alabama. But make no mistake, those Aggies were born in the Big 12.
While the school, Aggies fans and the program’s future might have received a huge boost by switching conferences, the team was basically the same one that went 7-6 the year before, with two major exceptions — new quarterback, new coach.
Quarterback Johnny Manziel came to College Station when Texas A&M was in the Big 12.
As for coach Kevin Sumlin, there’s nothing to suggest he would not have taken the A&M job if the Aggies were still in the Big 12.
Missouri’s first season in the SEC was a flop (5-7), but Year 2 is turning out to be a boon for the fifth-ranked Tigers (7-0, 3-0), another team that’s Big 12-bred.
Missouri has signed two recruiting classes since announcing it was moving to the SEC in November 2011. The Tigers’ latest depth chart lists 55 players on offense and defense. Sixteen are from the last two recruiting classes, 13 from what is turning out to be a very nice haul in 2012.
Rivals.com ranked Missouri’s 2012 class 31st in the nation, and it included receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, one of the nation’s best prospects who is from Springfield, Mo. The rest of the class was mostly composed of players from Missouri, Texas and the Midwest. Typical Missouri recruiting territory.
Missouri’s 2013 recruiting class was ranked 41st by Rivals and skews a bit more toward SEC country, but not much.
Like Texas A&M, Missouri might be reaping huge rewards in other areas now and in the future because of its move to the SEC, but it’s hard to find any evidence that this Missouri team would be any different if it was playing in the Big 12.
The additions of Missouri and Texas A&M have worked out great for the SEC, making the conference even better.
But if two programs that combined to win one Big 12 football title can walk into the SEC and immediately contend for championships, it’s safe to say Ohio State and plenty of others would do just fine.