After all, the Aggies were leaving the Big 12 Conference, where the competition was good, but not great, and heading to the monster that is the SEC. Texas A&M would find itself in a division with the Alabama Crimson Tide and the LSU Tigers, among others.
Now that its first season in the SEC has passed, one could say that Texas A&M not only held its own, but actually excelled in the nation’s most brutal league. An 11-2 record, including 6-2 in the conference, an upset victory over top-ranked Alabama and a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback were the highlights in what could easily be called a successful start in a new league for the Aggies.
Coach Kevin Sumlin brought his style to the SEC, and in his unassuming manner, he downplayed expectations for his team. After all, they had a new coach, were in a new league and were breaking in a new quarterback. Turns out the new coach, Sumlin, was voted SEC coach of the year by some media outlets. The new league, while tough, turned out not to be a huge problem for A&M. And the new quarterback, a redshirt freshman named Johnny Manziel, became a Heisman winner.
What might be even more satisfying for Aggie fans is that Texas A&M, with its success in the SEC, is now the top program in the state of Texas. The 11-2 record, against SEC competition, far outweighed the 9-4 record posted by coach Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns.
This means not only bragging rights in the Lone Star State, but it also has repercussions in recruiting. According to Rivals.com, Texas A&M had the nation’s No. 11 recruiting class in 2013. And Texas? The Longhorns came in at No. 23.
The opportunity to play in the SEC, as well as to play for Sumlin in an up-and-coming program, are appealing facts to recruits. If Texas A&M can continue its success on the field and in the recruiting world, the Aggies should remain the top team in Texas.