Texas A&M and its students are thrilled to be in the SEC and join Auburn in the “league of champions.” There’s nothing like it. The SEC is fiercely competitive on the field, but off it, they’re like family.
I’ll preface this column by saying I have long admired SEC athletics, particularly football, and I don’t think there’s anything more exciting in all of sports. There isn’t a better brand of football anywhere in the country. It’s good-ole-fashioned smash mouth greatness.
I’d argue I’ve seen as much, if not more, SEC football than Big 12 football over the years. The reason is two-fold.
First, SEC football is better – period. Second, SEC football is significantly more accessible, even in Big 12 country (one of the many reasons A&M moved to the SEC in the first place.) I’ve followed the league intimately and can’t wait for the Aggies to kickoff what should be an exhilarating 2012 season.
I’ll warn you upfront it might take you some time to get used to Aggie traditions, but hopefully in time they can be cherished as a piece of the SEC’s rich cultural fabric.
No, it’s true, we don’t have lady cheerleaders. (Sorry fellas.)
Instead, we have Yell Leaders (note the word ‘yell’ and not ‘cheer’) coordinating the many Aggie Yells. To counter this, we have what’s called ‘mug down,’ where the Aggies kiss their dates after every A&M score. The Corps of Cadets, Reveille, Bonfire, Muster and 12th Man are some of the many traditions that make A&M unlike any institution in the country.
You’ll also find that Kyle Field will fit in brilliantly with all of the greatest SEC venues.
The atmosphere there is not unlike what you’ll find in Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium, LSU’s “Death Valley” or Georgia’s “Between the Hedges.”
It’s as intense as any venue and the 30,000-plus strong student section, known as the 12th Man, makes it particularly special.
As far as this upcoming season is concerned, the Aggies are excited for the challenge. Few Aggies expect to compete for SEC titles immediately, but A&M has the fan base, facilities, coaching and recruiting base plan to be competitive long term.
We’ve had our moments. Our most recent glory days were in the late ‘80s through the ‘90s. In fact, A&M’s last bout with Auburn was a 36-16 victory over Bo Jackson’s Tigers in the 1986 Cotton Bowl. A&M would lose only four home games in the 1990s.
More recently, the Aggies have seen better days. A&M’s last conference title dates back to 1998 and A&M remains around .500 since the turn of the century.
However, the SEC has propelled A&M to a top-five recruiting class nationally, according to national recruiting services. If this trend continues, A&M could be vying for SEC West titles in the not-so-distant future.
As far as Auburn is concerned, I have a tremendous respect for the school. My grandfather received a scholarship to play football for the Tigers before injury deterred his career. Much of my family is from Alabama, and we have our share of Auburn fans. More recently, I’ve watched Tuberville’s stalwart defenses and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton’s ascension to college football glory in 2010.
Here’s to hoping A&M and Auburn spark a great rivalry over the next few years. I look forward to my first experience at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The Aggies are glad to join you, Auburn. They’re glad to be home.