The Texas A&M Aggies marched into the vaunted Southeastern Conference last season and promptly established itself as a legitimate contender, finishing 11-2 and knocking off eventual national champion Alabama in the process.
A&M’s supremely talented quarterback also became the first freshman to win Heisman Trophy. This instant success, in addition to hype about this season, has fed an ever-growing amount of arrogance among the Aggies’ quarterback, fan base and administration.
Johnny Manziel has drawn more and more criticism with every move he makes, the latest of which was his “show me the money” celebration in Week 1 after being accused of taking money for autographs. But not everyone is a Manzeil critic. Texas A&M President, R. Bowen Loftin, is certainly not one of them. He was recently photographed imitating Manziel’s gesture. It seems the A&M arrogance runs all the way to the top.
There are plenty of people, professional athletes included, who feel A&M is exploiting its polarizing superstar and believe he should be getting paid. The money debate is not likely to cease any time soon, and the outcome of the Johnny Drama saga is as big a mystery as whether or not he was paid to sign those autographs.
One certainty, however, is that Texas A&M will have to pay up eventually, and not in the way Manziel wants it to. At some point, the harsh reality of life in the SEC will come crashing down hard on the Aggies. It’s not a question of if, but rather when? It may be next week when the No. 1 Crimson Tide rolls into College Station. It may be later on this season. It may not happen until Manziel has left the school and moved on to bigger and better things. But hard times will come for Texas A&M football.
It seems Loftin – the 64-year old bow tie-wearing, philantrophy-loving school president who still likes to be cool and hip – isn’t worried about it. He’s stepping down after this year, so he has nothing to lose. The A&M program, however, does. There is no such thing as a fairy-tale life in the cutthroat world of SEC football, and at some point things in Aggieland will be more nightmarish than dreamy.
The last thing you want is to give every other school in the league a reason to kick you when you’re down. But A&M isn’t down right now. In fact, it’s probably riding the biggest high in program history. But just as every other SEC school has, the Aggies will learn that nothing is permanent and success in this league is cyclical.
So when you get your brief moment at the top, it’s best to enjoy it with some class and dignity, because there are 13 other teams just waiting for you to trip and fall.
In a league as tough as the SEC, dues must be paid. No team gets a free pass to unending success. A&M hasn’t experienced the letdown yet, but the Aggies’ time will come.