Click for Part I and Part II.
We covered the administration and the fan base in earlier posts, and as I told you this would be a 3-pronged attack, that leaves the final installment: the football team. Are they ready for the SEC?
I basically said the administration wasn't ready, and then they went and threw down some cash like a teenager with his first paycheck on various billboards around the state proclaiming "this is SEC territory." Well done, Jason Cook. I see what you did there, and I like it. But it's August. The billboards have epic failure potential, but the administration of Texas A&M is nothing if not brazen. After all, Governor Rick Perry is pulling the strings behind the scenes here. (See: failed Republican presidential nomination attempt for further reference.)
I believe the fan base is ready for the SEC, but not without significant reservations. The Florida game is the acid test for the 12th man. We'll talk then.
The football team has been progressing nicely throughout fall camp. Those with opinions I trust at least say so. (Which reminds me, if you are into the Aggie football subscription website thing, I recommend gigem247.com. Best bang for your buck.) From all accounts, Coach Sumlin has this program energized and fired up.
Nobody would argue that the Aggies are bigger, faster, and more talented than their SEC west opponents. The fact of the matter is this team was recruited to play in the smaller, offense-minded Big 12. Sumlin is doing what he can with what he was given. That's not to say I don't think the Aggies are strong at certain positions, because they are. But this team isn't going to beat many teams on talent alone.
But before we talk about them being 'ready', ask yourself this question: "What should the expectations be for this team in 2012?"
Keep in mind, Mississippi State was ranked in the early going of 2011, had the talent to compete, has an offensive coach in Dan Mullen, and went 6-6. (Sounds similar to A&M, eh?)
To be honest, I don't think the Aggies are ready for the SEC. But all things considered, Kevin Sumlin has done one hell of a job getting this team prepared. No team can be truly ready for this big of a change in this short of a time period. Practice and workouts only go so far. The actual games are what will get this team ready... For 2013.
2013 is what we need to set our sights on. This year, let's enjoy the ride, and hope for the best. Lower you expectations a bit (for this year), and revel in the good surprises when they do come. Relish our underdog status, show the chip on your shoulder, and wait for the respect to come. It may take time, but this program will earn that respect.