The end of the 2013 regular season for Texas A&M fans was a wake up call, a dose of reality if you will, with LSU beating A&M 34-10 in dominating fashion and Missouri turning the tables after last years blowout and besting A&M 28-21. LSU and Missouri were not the best teams A&M faced this season, but they simply had the Aggies number this year. There were a lot of things A&M could have done better in those games; dropped passes, poor play calling, minimal use of running backs and tight ends, an injury plagued quarterback, defense playing less than stellar, etc. But there’s a bigger issue… We as Aggies have become nauseatingly spoiled in a matter of 16 months.
Before the 2012 season every Aggie was excited about the opportunity the SEC would provide A&M, but we knew that it would take at least 3-4 years before A&M would have the SEC caliber recruits and the experience to contend with talent, depth, and size on a yearly basis. That reality is still the case. Kevin Sumlin has repeatedly reminded us of this over the past two years, but our hopes have outweighed our own common sense. A&M is experiencing tremendous success on the recruiting trail, which is to be expected with the appeal of Kevin Sumlin, the sensation that is Johnny Football, and being the only team in the state of Texas in the Southeastern Conference. However, our defense has been a perfect representation of the expected growing pains on the field, and our offense has masked those growing pains with the once in a generation Heisman Trophy winning talent of Johnny Manziel. Johnny partied, punked, and played his way over the past two seasons into making Aggies everywhere forget one thing, we were not supposed to be this good right away.
Kevin Sumlin is a tremendous coach and a phenomenal recruiter and that has shown, but it takes time to transition from Big XII talent to SEC talent. Coach Sumlin has been forced to play a lot of Mike Sherman’s kids in his first two years along with his own very young but talented recruits. Mike Sherman was a great offensive recruiter especially when it came to offensive linemen. That’s been prevalent in the dominance of our offensive line the last two seasons which helped give Johnny more time to work his magic. Kevin Sumlin had 32 stellar recruits in the 2013 class, half of which saw playing time in the 2013 season. Our defense had 11 true freshman on the two deep roster who were incredibly talented, but were undersized and had little to no experience. The experience they did receive and the limited success they had will pay dividends as early as next year. As far as the offense, that stable of talent is already paying dividends and will continue to only get better.
It has been an incredible journey over the past two years in the SEC, and we should all just sit back and be thankful for the sensational talent and never say die attitude that Johnny gave us each Saturday during our transition to the SEC. Instead however Aggies are still beside themselves over losses to Alabama, Auburn, LSU, and Missouri. I can’t help but ask, when did losing to teams of this caliber insight such fury from our fan base? When did going 9-4 in our second year in the SEC with a Heisman trophy under our belt become “disappointing”? The fact that there were even mentions of A&M being an SEC and national championship contender before this season was flattering and a testament to the extraordinary talent of Johnny Manziel, but they were also highly unrealistic.
We have to be careful as Aggies that we don’t get blinded by the instant success. Patience as they say is a virtue, and Aggie nation needs to prioritize the integrity of the fan base by understanding where we stand as a program and where we are heading before our expectations start taking on a life of their own. We’ve seen what happens when fan bases get cocky and turn on their own players and coaches due to their uncontrollable sense of entitlement (I’m looking at you TU). We as Aggies never want to relate in any way to the likes of the egotistical nightmare mentality plaguing fan bases like Texas.
These first two years in the SEC have been fun and going into the 2014 season, even with Johnny Football in the NFL, tremendous success is on the horizon. I pray that Aggies maintain their integrity as well as their humility going forward.