Is Texas A&M football the most disrespected program in the SEC?

Texas A&M football, while idiosyncratic, is certainly a team that has had their share of accomplishments in the SEC. Why, then, the disrespect?
Sep 17, 2022; College Station, Texas, USA; A view of the fans and the stands and the 12th Man logo
Sep 17, 2022; College Station, Texas, USA; A view of the fans and the stands and the 12th Man logo / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Is Texas A&M football the most underappreciated team relative to accomplishments in the SEC?

On a recent episode of That SEC Podcast, a production not unfamiliar with taking snipes at Texas A&M football from time to time, the topic of disrespected programs came up. The hosts, SEC Mike and Cousin Shane, had different answers—one said the Aggies, and one said the Florida Gators.

It was a bit unclear how they were using the term in the final analysis; they sort of vacillated between "underrated/underappreciated" and "derided/risible." There's no question that the Aggies have faced their fair share of derision in the latter years of Jimbo Fisher's tenure, as the national championship-winning coach was panned by media and fans alike.

However, this raised the question of the former in my mind, as well: has Texas A&M football gotten enough flowers for what they've accomplished so far in the SEC? Have they been given enough credit for what they've done in the nation's toughest conference?

Let's take a look at the resume since the Aggies came onto the scene in the SEC 12 years ago (stats found here). They have:

  • Two major bowl wins (2012 Cotton and 2021 Orange)
  • One Heisman Trophy
  • Reached bowl eligibility 11 times in 12 seasons
  • Averaged fewer than 4 losses per season
  • Reached a top-10 ranking in 8 of 12 seasons
  • Defeated 9 teams ranked in the AP top 10

That, by pretty much any measure, is remarkable success over this time period. In fact, the Aggies have the fourth-most wins of any team in the nation's best conference over those 12 years (97), trailing only LSU (110), UGA (134), and Alabama (151). Yet, I think most would chafe at the idea that Texas A&M has been the fourth-best team in the conference over that period, even though it is right there in the numbers.

For comparison, here is how a team entering the SEC next year profiles in these same categories.

  • Only one major bowl win (2019 Sugar)
  • Zero Heisman Trophies
  • Reached bowl eligibility only 9 times in 12 seasons
  • Averaged more than 5 losses per season
  • Reached a top-10 ranking in only 4 of 12 seasons
  • Defeated only 6 teams ranked in the AP top 10

Yet, for all the self-generated fanfare, you certainly would not know that this is a program with a far leaner record of success in previous years. Part of that has to do with how teams are covered, of course, but I think it's interesting how much of a "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" business college football can be. Until what you've done lately is not a result fans of a certain team like, and then they simply appeal to whatever splits they find amenable, that is.

Long story short, this upcoming season could change a lot of narratives. Luckily, I think Mike Elko has things headed in just the right direction.