Top 10 of 2011: A&M to the SEC

By: Shane McAuliffe Email
By: Shane McAuliffe Email

When Texas A&M took the field for the first time in 2011, the action on the field wasn't near as exciting as the action going on behind closed doors over the summer.

"We have uncertainty right now which is concerning most all the presidents at this time," said A&M President R. Bowen Loften on July 21st.

In July, Texas A&M hit the panic button after hearing the details about a new cable TV channel, The Longhorn Network. The national program dedicated to the Longhorns planned on airing high school football games.

"High school football games are very problematic. NCAA rules are extremely directed at the recruiting function and how does that change the landscape and ensure equity in terms of access to potential recruits for all universities. Not just Texas A&M but for all of us here in Texas and beyond," said Loften.

As A&M's confidence in the Big 12 fell apart, their belief in head coach Mike Sherman was at an all time high. So much so that the school gave Sherman a new contract and a raise.

"I think Mike has done a great job here at Texas A&M in his three years as head coach. We've come a long way and last season demonstrates that very well. This brings him up a little better to where we think he should be in terms of his peers compensation that we see out there in the Big 12 and outside the Big 12 as well," said Loften on July 22nd.

That news only appeased the Aggies' hunger for news on the school's conference affiliation for so long.

"I'm an Aggie and Aggies aren't always patient," joked Loften.

In August, President R. Bowen Loften was given the power to negotiate a possible change in conference affiliation by a unanimous vote of the Texas A&M Board of Regents.

"We look at anything we might do, staying in the Big 12, moving to another conference as a very long term prospect," said Loften on August 15th.

And that long term prospect was the SEC. On August 14th, Texas A&M applied to join the conference but the application is declined by the league. The reason, a threat of legal action lead by Baylor.

Once the inevitable became obvious, Baylor stepped aside and A&M was in.

"Welcome to the SEC," announced SEC Commissioner Mike Slive on September 26th.

"Good things come to those who wait," said Loften.

"I can't wait," said an Aggie fan.

The celebration was on in Aggieland, despite the fact the home team lost to Oklahoma State just two days earlier.

In a game the Aggies held a 20-3 halftime lead in, the team would fall to the cowboys 30-27 and only be a sign of things to come.

The following week against Arkansas, the Aggies would once again build up a 18-point halftime lead only to lose it.

A three game winning streak followed but then the 3rd quarter comebacks came back to haunt the Aggies.

In the team's six losses on the year, opponents outscored A&M 76-7 in the third quarter.

With A&M leaving for the SEC, the Longhorns went from friendly conference rivals to bitter brothers. Vowing to not play A&M in the foreseeable future, the final Lone Star Showdown between Texas and Texas A&M had major implications.

In the end, the Longhorns celebrated on the grounds of Kyle Field what could be their final victory over the Aggies.

It was the game the Aggies couldn't afford to lose and it cast a shadow of doubt on their head coach.

"I don't think he's that good." "The record speaks for itself," said a fan.

"It's just unbelievable how much he gets paid and how bad our records are," said another Aggie fan.

A week later, Sherman was fired and left with an emotional goodbye.

"My message to them was to win the bowl. My message to them was they're a good football team, don't let anybody tell them anything different. My message to them was to be great men, men of character," said Sherman on December 2nd.

Just 12 days after saying goodbye, the new face of Aggie football took the stage.

Former University of Houston Head Coach Kevin Sumlin came back to A&M to take over a team with so much on the horizon.

And that's where we sit as the Aggies get ready for one incredibly interesting 2012, the year A&M starts its affiliation with the SEC.

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